Friday, June 21, 2013

Six reasons why the NHL is FAR superior to the NBA

As I was driving home from work, listening to the first quarter of game 7 of the NBA Finals, I was thinking about whether or not I'd watch the game  when I got home. San Antonio was up 11-4 over Miami, and I thought to myself, "So what? It means absolutely nothing at this point in the game. I decided right then that I wouldn't bother watching the game until the 4th quarter. And by 4th quarter, I meant LATE in the 4th. Like 5 minutes left or less, unless it looked like a blowout, then I wouldn't watch it at all. Last night, I watched Game 4 of the NHL's Stanley Cup Final. Didn't get home in time to see the very beginning, but after that, I didn't miss a minute; not even to pee. Back to making my way home tonight, I changed the radio station to another all-sports channel. They were talking about... yep, basketball. ESPN will talk about it for hours on end, and then have a two or three minute segment on that night's NHL game. And then it's right back into basketball. Which leads me to this:

6 reasons why the NHL is far superior to the NBA

6. The player's names:
I LOVE hockey names. I'll take Nicklas Hjalmerson, brothers Olli and Jussi Jokinen (Try saying that once... Oh-lee and Juicy YO-kin-en... Nice!), Kevin Shattenkirk, and Dustin Byfuglien (pronounced Buff-Lin). You get LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Derrick Rose. I'll even throw in Joakim Noah, cuz he has a cool name... but still I WIN!!! Hockey names rule!

"It's spelled just like it sounds B-Y-F-U-G-L-I-E-N. Bufflin."

5. Hockey is much harder to understand: Yes, some people might consider this as a bad thing. It's not. Just about anyone understands basketball. You run, you jump, you put the ball in the net. Hitting the other team's players is bad. (We'll get into this one more in a minute) In Basketball, one guy can run down to the other end of the court, and his teammate can throw it to him all the way down. No problem. Hockey makes everyone wait until the puck is past the blue line, then they can go in and try to score. It can be especially frustrating if your guy goes in too early, or the other team flips the puck outside the blue line, then you have to line up and try to get it in again. There are infractions for hand-passes, playing the puck with a high stick, offsides, icing, and a myriad of penalties (including roughing, boarding, interference, and cross-checking) after which, the offender has to go sit in the box and "feel shame" for two minutes. Understand all this, and you can understand just about any sport, and can claim intellectual superiority to those mere mortals who say "I just don't get Hockey."


See the difference?

4. Whining: Brush against an NBA player and he falls down faster than a 9 month old baby. He cries more too; especially if the ref doesn't blow the whistle and call a foul. Then the coach will put on that pouty face that only NBA coaches can make. I swear, when they interview someone for an NBA coaching job, they ask them to make that face.
Like this:

Or this:

Of course the players do it too. I think it started with this guy...


...Danny Ainge, who was so good at whining as a player, they decided to put him in the front office to see if he could whine enough to make other general managers give him their good players for his has-beens and never-were's. The exception to this was Phil Jackson. I rarely saw that man pout. He had the scowl down to a science though. Sort of reminds me of my father.

Your Mother and I are really disappointed in you, Son
But this... this is what a hockey coach looks like:

And he's in a good mood

3.Hitting (non-fighting variety): The NHL keeps track of hits. In a good way. As in, "What a game by Cal Clutterbuck! He had 10 hits!" This is what an NHL hit looks like:

And this is the aforementioned brushing against a player in the NBA:

Damn! You almost touched me D-Wade!

And, more important is what comes after. After Dwayne, or d-wayne, or however the hell he spells his name brushed against CP3, the ref probably blew the whistle, walked over to the scorer's table, bounced the ball a few times, and everyone stood around while one of the players stood on the line and took free throw shots. In all, it takes about a minute to watch those multi-millionaires do something that is being done by a kid in every city and suburb in America. Standing still and shooting a ball into a hoop. Woo boy. There's excitement. And after Clutterbuck knocked one of the Blackhawks against the boards in the NHL game? They both got up, skated after the puck, and kept playing. The scorer's table placed a mark in the book under Hits, and the game went on. No foul, no whistle, no penalty, and thankfully, no free throws.

2.Toughness: A lot is made of the NHL fighting. Tell someone you love Hockey, and the odds are good you'll hear, "Oh, you must love the fights." Actually, no. I don't. They are part of the game, and sometimes it makes me laugh. But love... no. Not even close. If I was into just the fights, I'd watch boxing, MMA or WWE... no. Not the WWE. I'd rather watch the Disney Channel, and I ABHOR the Disney channel. What I love about the NHL is the toughness of the players. For instance: In the 2nd period of a playoff game, Duncan Keith of the Blackhawks got hit in the mouth with a puck, lost seven teeth , went off to the dressing room, was treated, and was back on the ice for the third period.

Nice smile Dunc. Real nice!

 Mike Milbury, now a commentator, but then, of the Boston Bruins, climbed into the stands in New York and beat a fan over the head with the fan's own shoe. Okay, that's fighting, and in this day and age, he'd probably get kicked out of the league for that, but still. He pulled off the dude's shoe and hit him over the head! Crazy! And just this year, in the playoffs, Bruins defenseman Gregory Campbell was hit in the leg by a slapshot that he dove in front of, (yes, he intentionally got in the way of a 100 mph frozen projectile) breaking his fibula in the process. They must have stopped the game for him so they could bring out an ambulance or something, right? Wrong.

He stayed on the ice, skating on one leg, trying to play defense until the whistle blew, or the puck was cleared down the ice far enough that he could get to the bench and get another player in because he didn't want to let the Penguins score. He was on the ice for another minute. Are basketball players this tough? I don't think so.

1. The games themselves: I could devote an entire post to this segment alone, but I'll try to keep it simple. I'll start with a question. When was the last time an NBA game was decided in the first quarter? Answer: Never. That's my biggest problem with the NBA. The only part of the game that really matters is the last few minutes unless someone gets injured or in foul trouble. As I said earlier, the San Antonio Spurs were up 11-4 early in the game. As I wrote this, the Heat went on to defeat the Spurs and win their 2nd straight championship. Almost none of the early play made a bit of difference. All that mattered is that Miami made more shots in the last few minutes. A big deal was made of the Heat "fans" who left early in the 4th quarter of game 6, missing the great comeback, highlighted by three pointers from LeBron and Ray Allen. Have these people ever watched NBA basketball? If anything, skip the first 3 quarters, not the 4th. In the first three quarters, you could make the greatest play in the history of the game, and what would it count for? 2 or 3 points out of 100 or so that the team scored. Whoop de hoo!! Last night, the Hawks and Bruins, in an amazingly high scoring affair, scored 11 goals combined, nearly matching the 12 goals both teams had scored in the first 3 games put together. But let's stick with those 11 goals. The winning Hawks got 6. Patrick Kane's goal was worth almost 17 percent of their output for the night. Compare that with one of LeBron's 3 pointers which accounted for 3.15 percent of the Heat's total. Therefore, a goal in Hockey is worth over 5 times what a 3 in basketball is worth. And 5 times more exciting, I might add. The thing about Hockey is, even though it is low scoring, a goal can happen at any time. You could say that about hoops too, but you can't say a basket is rare. They happen over and over for 48 minutes, diminishing their value in my opinion. NHL games are like watching an intense movie, but not having any idea about when the climax is coming. It could come within 8 seconds, or 59.9 minutes, or in overtime. You just never know, therefore you have to watch the entire game. And if it goes to overtime, like 3 of the first 4 games of this series have, it's "Next goal wins!" Your team can literally be inches away from heartbreak, and turn around and win it within 30 seconds. If you love sports, that's pretty much the ultimate. Just remember to take your heart meds.

Let's move to time outs. NBA basketball is littered with time outs. Each team gets 7 or 8 a game, unless it goes to overtime, when they get three more. I can't remember the total because it's so many. The last few minutes of a game can take FOR-EV-ER. Hockey coaches also have the chance to take time out. ONCE PER GAME. And if it goes to overtime? No extra time outs. The refs stop the game once, after ten minutes of clock time to fix the ice a bit. No commercials, no stoppage. It's, "GAME ON WAYNE!"

I'm really glad the NBA season is done, for the simple fact that after a couple more days, they will stop talking about it on the radio and on Sportscenter. The NHL is down to its last 2 or 3 games and if the previous 4 were any indication, this series will go down to the last minute of Game 7 with no real clue as to who will take home the Stanley Cup. I can't wait. Game 5 is Saturday, Game 6 is Monday, and if it gets that far, Game 7 on Wednesday. I'll be watching, will you?

PS. Meanwhile, this is me, trying out for one of the many NBA coaching jobs that have recently opened up.

Wish me luck! Mr. Snarky