Stephen Curry v. Monta Ellis
Here's a comment attached to a Sporting News story on the uncertain NBA potential of Stephen Curry and Tyler Hansbrough:
- it's tiresome to hear announcers always making comments about how so and so will do at the next level. i don't care! i am a college basketball fan, if i want to hear about the nba then i will listen to and watch the league, which probably won't happen anytime soon.
there is a passion in college basketball that will never exist at the pro level. plus, most of these players have much better technique than the 'nba stars' of today, most of whom who were college stars, forgot the basics of the game once they put on an nba jersey.
As much as I wish I could back up Tom Ziller in his Ballhype back-and-forth with Dan Shanoff, it's hard for me to argue with Shanoff that the NBA is indeed becoming a niche sport.
This Harris Interactive poll (hat tip: "PurpleEagle") offers a basic measure in simply tracking which sport Americans call their favorite through the years. Pro basketball has dropped like a stone from 13% and third place in 1998 to 4% and a tie for sixth place in 2008.
Now, we're pretty clearly on the record here in believing that the NBA is a vastly superior product to watch than NCAA basketball, even at tournament time. That said, we love and respect the game on all levels - we watched some NBA, some NCAA D-1, some NCAA D-3 this weekend and appreciated pieces of all of it.
What befuddles me is how so many basketball fans out there - on a 0-100 scale of watchability - fervently believe NCAA hoops is a full 100 and the NBA is an unquestioned 0, and it damn near cracks me up how so many seem to willfully ignore spectacular NBA basketball.
It's at times like these, after the Lakers-Warriors home-and-home shootouts (among several other great NBA games in the last week), that I just need to ask: How can you be a basketball fan and not like this? How? I acknowledge that it is so, but I just don't understand.
My favorite example is the LeBron 47-12-10 vs. D-Wade 44-8-9 all-time classic (Watch the last quarter+) which did not even register a blip in the national media because it was held a few hours before the 2006 Final Four (Florida-George Mason, UCLA-LSU), which, we might add, was thoroughly unwatchable.
I've got a milder example for you from this weekend: Stephen Curry was fantastic and is justly being celebrated for leading Davidson to two upsets with 70 total points. I fully respect the young fella's accomplishments.
I just find it amusing that Curry is the absolute toast of the Western world right now, on the tip of the tongue of every American sports fan, yet here's what Monta Ellis (just two years older than Curry), for an example, totaled on Sunday and Monday in a home-and-home vs. the Lakers: 49 pts., 16 reb., 14 ast.
I know, it's a different situation - Monta was just one of many stars (Kobe, Baron, Stack Jack, Odom) in the Lakers-Warriors double-dip, the games weren't on national TV, it's still not the big stage of the postseason, and it's not like that was even close to Monta's best basketball after his otherworldly February (26 ppg on 60% FG).
My point is just that Monta Ellis seems to move up my chart of favorite players to watch every day - he is a wildly exhilarating young player to watch, with the way he somehow both glides and explodes at the basket, and he just scores so efficiently.
I loved, during Marc Stein's appearance on the Bill Simmons podcast, how he muttered "God, I love Monta Ellis" under his breath for no particular reason when his name came up. Exactly! I invariably find myself muttering variations of the same thing when I watch the Warriors. How can you be a basketball fan and *not* feel that way about watching a guy like Monta!
And I guess that's my point: I can appreciate what Curry's doing, but I don't understand how you *can't* appreciate what someone like Ellis is doing, simply because you've decided that you love college basketball unconditionally and you abhor the NBA. Yet today, every casual sports fan knows who Curry is and there's a palpable buzz around what he's done; none know who Ellis is and that sound you hear around him would be crickets.
Again, I'm really only using Monta as an example - crikey dick, a good chunk of casual fans probably still don't even know who Chris Paul is. He's only three years older than Curry and all he's doing is playing the point guard position damn near as well as it's ever been played.
Oh by the way, total score of the Lakers-Warriors two-game home-and-home, in case you didn't notice: 238-238. Damn fun basketball all the way around, lots of spectacular plays, great back-and-forth at the end, even if Bob "Bobby Covert" Delaney screwed up the end of Monday's game with a UCLA-like gift of a call for L.A.