What the NBA is telling us about America

Style and substance have become enemies in America, and the latter appears to be getting overwhelmed in the form of Candy Crush, Flappy Birds, the Kardashians, Chris Christie (-his job, of course), et al. Heck, bearded members of one of the great music bands this country ever produced, ZZ Top, can’t go anywhere these days without being mistaken for a homophobic reality TV star!

Quick: Duck Dynasty or ZZ Top???

Quick: is this Duck Dynasty or ZZ Top???

Turn on the tube for some sports highlights and the likes of Dairy Queen will shamelessly try and sell you a 1,500 calorie “$5 buck lunch.” The rubber stamped “Fan Food” ad features a 140 lb. young male licking his chops while digging his paws into a towering burger that holds as much nutritional value as a Milk Bone. Once that insult concludes, SportsCenter makes it’s presence felt with a revving host of obnoxious intro graphics that would quiet even the likes of Tom Arnold’s mind. The anchor begins by teasing Carmelo Anthony’s record scoring night as if it were the greatest accomplishment you will witness in your home since the advent of pizza delivery. It turned out that Anthony netted a New York Knick record of 62 points. There was no mention that he also tied Spike Lee’s franchise mark in futility for total assists in a game.

If you need more evidence that our standards for excellence in America have become a complete farce, look no further than the National Basketball Association’s All-Star roster from out of the Eastern Conference. Not only will you see more players representing the second-place team than the first place team (in overall seeding), you may also notice the player who leads the league in triple-doubles, Lance Stephenson, is missing all together. Not only is Stephenson an essential member of an Indiana team who indeed owns the best record in the NBA, but he’s putting together the best season of his own career by consistently executing two of the most honest statistics in all of sports: assists and rebounds.

Stephenson in front of a guy who probably voted for scorers over producers.

Stephenson in front of a guy who probably voted for scorers over producers.

As a careless result of granting the fan community complete voting control in selecting its all-star game’s starters, the NBA awards “hero ball” pretenders like Kyrie Irving and oft-injured players like Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade starting positions for the event.

So when it was up to the league coaches to place Stephenson on the roster as a reserve, they instead made the trolls look sane by adding Heat F/C Chris Bosh, who stands 6’10” and averages under seven rebounds along with just one assist a game-for a second-seeded team, nonetheless. I get that life isn’t fair, but it doesn’t have to be stupid.

At what point did complacency become the way? When did style find the ninja skills to dominate substance? We simply can’t take our eyes off of performances that encompass all things low iq, or instant gratification over long term satisfaction. Most people say they watch Fox News not because it’s “Fair and Balanced,” but because it’s entertaining. I thought news was supposed to be honest, informative and in turn boring. O’Reilly and Hannity have replaced Cheers and Seinfeld, while Obama versus the Republican party has replaced heavyweight boxing. It’s as if the media has created a fourth branch of government to keep us distracted from what really matters. (Respected print media outlets are no longer infallible, either: I don’t want a Rolling Stone reporter to tell me about Drake’s insatiable appetite for indoor pools. We know performing artists live lavishly. I want to know why he lifts his shirt to point to his nipple on stage, why he wears his pants halfway down his rump, and why he doesn’t tie his boots. Then I want a paragraph detailing the way he reacted after you ask him that!)

To paraphrase what Charles Barkley, pro basketball's No. 1 ambassador, recently told Dan Patrick: "The quality of play (in the NBA) is embarrassing."

To paraphrase what Charles Barkley, pro basketball’s No. 1 ambassador, recently told Dan Patrick: “The quality of play (in the NBA) is embarrassing.”

Please get ahold of yourself, America, and stop shoveling coal into the hopper. The NBA product is insulting an impressionable fanbase that’s all too happy to enjoy all things “Fanfood” related. Start with something simple: don’t watch the NBA All-Star game this Sunday night. If the ratings are low, the league, new commish and all, will do something different next year. It’s a baby step, we know. But a step in the right direction, nonetheless. We’re not asking you to skip the Finals…this year.

The majority of the NBA fan agrees that the overall quality of the game itself has significantly diminished since the original Dream Teamers handed over the establishment to the neck tattoo generation. Part of the reason our kids underperform in school is because their heroes, let’s use sports figures as an example, are now guys whom are marketed as “accomplished stars.” Yet they don’t lead (Dwight Howard), grind (Bosh), share (Carmelo Anthony) or win (Irving). Meanwhile, the NBA’s leading renaissance man for 2014, Lance Stephenson, will watch the game from home.

Mr. Positive, Magic Johnson recently told DJ Sway, "Few players of this era could have played in my era." Heartbreaking.

The always positive Magic Johnson recently told DJ Sway, “Few players of this era could have played in my era.” A step further: non original Dream-Teamers Isiah Thomas and Dominique Wilkins would be the third and fourth best players, respectively, in today’s game.

In case you were wondering just how Stephenson, a Brooklyn product who nurtured his game growing up at the famed Rucker Park, handled the news that he was an All-Star snub? He took care of business on the court, recording another triple-double to help the Pacers win.