Thank goodness my town has a hockey bar now where I don’t have to argue with the bartenders to turn switch the basketball game that no one is watching to the Stanley Cup playoff game.
My favourite era of hockey was from the 90s to the early 2000s, despite the poor scoring of the time. This was when I lived in the San Juans, and you could get all the games from CBC. They showed two games every Saturday (usually Montreal, Ottawa or Toronto in the late afternoon, then Vancouver, Edmonton or Calgary at night). Then CBC just showed Stanley Cup playoff games constantly for two months from mid-April to mid-June.
I also used to love the hockey commercials on CBC. My favourite will always be the “Die Maple Leafs! Die!” Nike commercial.
I kind of fell out of love with NBA basketball around the same time. I used to love the NBA of the 80s — the absolute epic, legendary battles between the Celtics and the Lakers and the other teams lying in wait — the 76ers, Pistons and Bulls. Each team had their own style and identity uniquely theirs. I think basketball has lost that, all the teams seem to run the same offences today. I will probably still watch some of the NBA Finals, especially if Golden State gets in. I’m sick of the Spurs.
What specifically turned me off of basketball was the Western Conference finals one year in the ’90s between the Lakers and Kings. In Game 7, the refs called blocking foul after blocking foul on Sacramento players as they literally stood there holding their hands up and Shaq traveled and jumped into them. Shaq got away with traveling and charging on virtually every play, but because he was Shaq, the refs called it the other way.
I’m not a believer in conspiracy theories, I’m seriously not, but that is a case where I cannot shake the suspicion that the NBA preferred to have a giant market like L.A. in the NBA Finals rather than a tiny market like Sacramento. That was what finally soured me on the NBA. The refs have too much power to control the flow and outcome of the game. I think more in basketball than any other sport. Anyway, I digress. I’m talking about why I soured on the NBA, not about why I think hockey is better. Here are my top 10 reasons why the Stanley Cup Playoffs are better than the NBA playoffs:
1) My favourite reason. Hockey teams are allowed ONE timeout. ONE. How many do you get in basketball. Like 10? The last two minutes of a basketball game take 20 minutes sometimes, I swear.
2) No Bill Walton. No Joe Morgan or Rick Sutcliffe or Tim McCarver for that matter. But, mostly, no Bill Walton.
3) The best, most beautiful trophy in sport. What does the NBA have? A gold-plated basketball.
4) Playoff beards!
5) The terminology:
“Off the blocker!”
6) The names! Every unpronounceable, unspellable name from Tarasenko to Pacioretty to Silfverberg to Zuccarello.
7) Every team has a shorter nickname than its official nickname. Penguins = Pens. Senators = Sens. Canadiens = Habs. Predators = Preds. Blackhawks = Hawks. Lightning = Bolts. Wild = …. well, the Wild are one of the freak teams.
8) Hockey wounds. Stitches. Right back on the ice.
9) The sounds! The puck off the post, the puck hitting the stick on a sharp pass, the thud on the boards during a massive collision, the goal horn.
10) No Toronto yet again. That’s a cherry on top.