Tuesday, December 22, 2015

LeBronophobia: the fear of having a 250 lb, 6' 8" man land on top of you

Big shots like Jack Nicholson and Spike Lee like to sit so close to the action at National Basketball Ass'n games, they might as well put on a tank top and go out there and play.

Then I might finally watch an NBA game! As it is, it's about as interesting to me as watching a giant toss a ball into a can. Strategy, split-second decisions and clever designs?  That's for baseball and football. Pro basketball is men dragging each other up and down the court, tossing that biscuit into the basket, and then dragging down to the other end.  If you want to see basketball played with finesse and expertise from practice and unity of effort, watch a women's team, such as the perennially great squads at the Univ. of Maryland, and leave the 8' men to their own game.  

And I say this as someone who is tall, so there's that.

But if the NBA is going to stay in business, they are going to have to do something about those seats 6" from the court where luminaries and rich people sit to watch the game, all the while praying that someone the size of LeBron James does not land on them while chasing a ball.

It happened the other night to Ellie Day, the wife of golfer Jason Day, currently ranked #2 in his profession.  She was at a Cleveland Cavaliers game in the glamour seats, and James flew off the court after a ball.  Ms Day, who delivered her second child just last month, served as his landing strip, and needed to be carried from the court on a stretcher and in a neck brace.  

Cavaliers coach David Blatt said such seats "concerned" him after the completely unnecessary and avoidable accident.

"Honestly, the only thing I saw was LeBron diving for the ball to save the ball," Blatt said. "I kind of got blocked and just saw a sea of bodies. We all hope that she's OK. It's always concerned me, the sideline seats. Always concerned me, because things like that, when you're talking about players of this speed and physicality and effort level, it's not a simple thing.

"The powers that be are the ones that really need to decide how to deal with that. He made an honest attempt at the basketball, that's all, obviously. We all hope she's OK."

LeBron James heads for the stands...
Of course, no one is blaming James for doing what he is paid so handsomely to do. The league hasn't commented on something that is only marginally safer than allowing spectators to jaywalk across the track at a NASCAR race.

But James doesn't seem to be too worried about fans sitting courtside: "I think it's a great experience for our fans. I mean, that doesn't happen much. It's unfortunate it happened (that evening), but that doesn't happen much."

...and the aftermath
"Our fans are why our game is so great. Sitting courtside, it's all part of the game. It's pretty cool. If I was a fan, which I am a fan of the game, but, I would love to sit courtside and watch games."

In pro hockey, after a 13-year old girl died from being hit by a flying puck at a game, the National Hockey League installed safety netting above the plexiglass which surrounds its rinks.

In June, Tonya Carpenter was suffered "life threatening" injuries after a broken bat struck her at Boston's Fenway Park.  She has recovered. The Red Sox raised the netting around the dugouts and home plate, and the major leagues, rather than allowing fans to sit on lawn chairs along the first and third-base lines, is recommending that more nets be put up to protect fans.

It really doesn't matter to me, because you will see me in the audience for "Maury" or "Jerry Springer" before you'll see me shelling out money to sit in an NBA arena. But maybe they'll get the point.

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