Thursday, March 27, 2008

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.
I know, it's uninformed and probably not worth a response. I pulled it out because I thought it was indicative of what I hear anecdotally *a lot*, esp. this time of year, of course: I like college basketball and I refuse to watch NBA basketball, and I have lots of reasons why the NBA is unwatchable even though I don't actually watch myself.

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.


At 12:52 PM, Anonymous JG said...

The NBA--just as popular as golf!

That Harris question would seem to favor sports like NASCAR and hockey--which are followed passionately by some fans and ignored by a lot of other people. Pro Basketball would fare better in a weighted "rank your top 3 sports" question ... right?

At 11:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your example of the Warriors/Lakers game is actually a prime example of WHY I DON'T LIKE THE NBA: Shoddy referring and preferential treatment towards superstars..

No thanks. I'll stick to my underpaid little NCAA amateurs. At least there's no Kaiser Stern ready to uproot franchises at the behest of some crooked cowboy in the NCAA.

At 11:24 AM, Anonymous David said...

Anonymous, did you see the end of the UCLA v Texas A&M game? I remember a shoddy non-call by the referee that favored the superstar laden UCLA team. The NCAA is no better in regards to refereeing. I've watched my share of poorly officiated NCAA games.

My biggest battle is showing people that most NCAA teams don't play better defense than NBA teams. With a shorter three-point line, it is much easier to play an effective defense that limits penetration. This is not possible with the NBA's further three-point line and superior athletes. Each level presents a different form of basketball that can and should be appreciated for its differences.

At 4:15 PM, Blogger Nate Jones said...

I couldn't agree more. The NBA is superior in every sense of the word. People allow their cult like loyalty to the colleges they attended and the warm and fuzzy feeling they get from the faux amatuerism of the NCAA make them believe that college ball is better. It's not better. It's like comparing a high school/college level musical to that of a broadway production.

Also, Monta Ellis is my favorite player in the league after Kobe Bryant. After that dunk on Barbosa last season, I was on board for life. I pretty much never miss Warrior games now. He's got the ability to get to the rim like Tony Parker, but the ups/athleticism of Baron Davis and the mid-range jumper of a Rip Hamilton. if he gets a three point shot, he could become one of the best players in the league. I suggest you watch the videos of him on the and1 website. They'll make you love him any more. Just a down home southern kid.

At 5:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

curry reminds me of an undersized kevin martin.

At 5:23 AM, Blogger khandor said...

In an effort to get your own point across what you are not doing is listening carefully to the voices of those telling you that they do not like the NBA and the reason(s) for their disinterest in it.

The NBA (whose game I heartily appreciate) is distinct from each & every level of basketball because the ORIGINAL RULES of the GAME have been BASTARDIZED for the purposes of increased 'entertainment value' and 'Star Appeal' (individualism) at the EXPENSE of TEAM PLAY (offensively & defensively).

Despite what Corporate America might think ... the mass population in the Republic is NOT atttracted to this specific 'marketing technique', in contrast to the well crafted images of yesteryear that combined INDIVIDUAL & TEAM PLAY/Success in the personas of men/players like Magic Johnson & Larry Bird (and eventually MJ, once Phil Jackson's Triangle Offense & commitment to Team Defense arrived in Chicago).

Basketball is the ULTIMATE Team Game ... but the NBA chosen to move further away from this Core Concept as the phenomenon that was Michael Jordan rose to its apex.

Returning to a better blend of Individual & Team emphasis ... with 'Stars' who love to PASS the BAll, first & foremost, AND Defend as a group AND can then score it, as well ... is what the NBA needs to do to halt its current slide into Nichedom.

PS. Monta Ellis (is a tremendous offensive talent) is a Prime Example of what is wrong with the NBA, in these people's eyes, as his own coach, from time to time, has to emplore him to share the ball better with his teammates AND to (at least) take an 'interest' in playing some sort of passable defense when the opposition has possession of the ball.

At 5:55 PM, Blogger M. Haubs said...

Khandor: One of many examples of current NBA teams who combine individual and team play on both the offensive and defensive end would be the SAN ANTONIO SPURS.

And NO ONE WATCHES THEM, despite people saying that this is what they want to see.

The list of stars who love to pass the ball includes DAMN NEAR EVERY POINT GUARD ON A WESTERN PLAYOFF TEAM, and builds from there.

Whatever dude.

At 5:57 PM, Blogger M. Haubs said...

Always good to hear from Jones on the NBA....

I like the Kevin Martin comparison... though it's worth noting that he *is* 6-7....

At 9:06 AM, Anonymous kamagra said...

Interesting comparative, I think that Monta Ellis is a better player, he was more committed to the team and his attitude was more friendly.

At 9:02 AM, Anonymous cialis online said...

Announcers are idiots they know nothing they are useless i wonder why exist a job position like this in the world... if a damn player plays bad one day they just said he or she played terrible and bla bla but they don;'t if the player is passing a hard time in it's life... they are like idiots.

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