Saturday, November 20, 2004

Now, That was some Basketball

My friend Mike and I went to see an ABA basketball game tonight. The Portland Reign were matched up against the Fresno Heat Wave. We met at Flying Pie pizza, had a pie, and drove over to Warner Pacific College to watch the game. Parking was difficult, but not impossible to find. I met Mike, we paid our $10 for tickets and headed towards the bleachers.

It is a small college and the bleachers only have enough room for several hundred people. Across the court are the reserved seats for $25. Every seat is excellent of course. Portland came out first and started practice. Their uniforms were white and blue and they were fairly plain. The Fresno Heatwave had much nicer looking uniforms. They were black with yellow, red, and white angled stripes. It kind of reminded me of one of those Disney films where the nice team has poor people uniforms and the fancy uptown school with all the mean kids have the slick uniforms (but not a lot, just a little).

The easiest to spot player on either team was 7' 4" Ha Seung-Jin. This Korean player was several inches taller than the nearest Portland player. After the usual opening remarks, national anthem, and starting lineups, the tip off took place. After that, it was off to the races. Portland scored 41 points in the first quarter. The pace was fast and furious and definitely much more fun to watch than the bump and grind of the NBA.

Western Oregon Alum Robert Day was great as shooting guard and the core group did well. It was obvious neither team had been practicing long together, but that added to the fun. The ABA has some different rules from the NBA to appeal more to fans. A team only gets 7 seconds to bring the ball across half court (NBA teams get 10). You can't foul out in the ABA, but after 6 fouls on a person, the opposition gets an extra foul shot. There is something called the 3D rule (follow this link for more details) that can actually allow a 3 point basket to count for 4, 2 point baskets will give 3, etc. This rule came into effect once for Portland during tonight's game and they did get an extra point out of it. The rules were different enough from other basketball leagues that confusion reigned (no pun intended) several times.

All of this added up to many, many fast breaks. It was clear by half time that none of these players were conditioned for this type of fast-paced style, but it was still entertaining. Both teams (I think) had over 60 points at halftime. By then, the bleachers were over 80% full. As we looked around during the course of the game, we saw a few former Blazers and a current one; Maurice Lucas and Terry Dischinger were present along with Ruben Patterson, and another player I recognized but could not come up with a name for. Former Blazer Ron Brewer coached the Fresno team.

The second half was evenly matched. The game ended in a full court sprint by Portland's John Outlaw (Blazer Travis's brother I believe) to score a layup as time expired to send the game into overtime. The first overtime was three minutes and also ended in a tie. The second overtime was an untimed game to ten points. The first team to get 10 wins. Portland did and won the game. The final tally was 132-128 (counting the second overtime). The last part of the game was loud and very fun.

After years of the NBA's slow-down offense, whiny stars who sometimes seem to enjoy getting stoned more than hustling for loose balls and griping about salaries and playing time, it was just plain exciting to watch people play the game straight out and with a great deal more athleticism than I see in the NBA. For $10, I just don't see how you can beat it.

For my known and unknown readers, here are some teams you might be interested in seeing:

Portland Reign

Pennsylvania Pit Bulls (Pittsburgh area)

Philadelphia Fusion

Orange County Crush


Anonymous said...

The ABA seems to be where my favorite college players go to fade into obscurity (see: joe Crispin and Ryan Robertson) I caught a few Long beach games while I was in california a few years ago and was pretty impressed. The ABA2000 people have a pretty good sellable product. Unfortunately, it is inevitable that they'll fold soon. All the idependent leagues do.

I try not to get attached to the smaller pro leagues to save myself the pain. I stick to High School and college ball.

...The Oregon HS Basketball really needs to implement a shot clock. the games get stupid occasionally.

Anyway, nice to see another basketball (not just NBA) fan is out there.
--Mike Gushard

The Moody Minstrel said...

Speaking of good basketball, what did you think of that Pacers - Indians game? Woooo-EEEEE what a beaut of a scrap THAT was, eh?

Hey...violence is the only real reason people watch sports, isn't it?

DewKid said...

Definitely amusing to watch NBA players smacking fans around in the stands. Bunch of children if you ask me, and the players involved definitely deserve any punishment coming their way.

The thing I find odd, is that there is no discussion as to what will happen to the fans who started the whole thing. I mean, throwing a drink (several drinks, actually) at the NBA players isn't exactly "minding their own business" (quoting nobody in particular here). I wonder if there will be any legal action against them, or if the NBA will instead pay them off handsomely to make the whole thing go away. I'm guessing the latter.

Anonymous said...

Philrod Piddlewaif:

My dear Mr. DewKid, surely you must be aware by now that, in any issue involving a conflict between a celebrity and some common James, only the celebrity is guilty. Whatever provocation the unknown sod may have committed is utterly INCONSEQUENTIAL.