MARCH 13 HOME STRETCH COLUMN — PETE TEMPLE, SPORTS EDITOR
The report was clear, concise and to the point.
“The Heat is winning by one at halftime, the Bulls are leading by nine in the third quarter, and the Timberwolves are losing by 11 in the second quarter.”
This was not a professional sportscaster reading scores on TV, radio or computer screen. This was my 8-year-old son, Ian, summarizing the NBA games in progress after tracking down the scores on my smartphone.
Ian has followed the lead of his brother Levi, who turns 10 on Friday. Levi had long since declared that the Chicago Bulls are his favorite NBA team, and Derrick Rose is his favorite player.
Early this season, Ian asked me to read him the names of the teams that were in first place. I did, and he promptly declared the Miami Heat to be his favorite team. He later learned about LeBron James, and announced that James was his favorite player.
As a father who has spent inordinate amounts of time trying to get the boys interested in a sport – any sport – this is a welcome departure.
Still, I have no idea where this is coming from. These are boys who have spent their childhood going from Thomas the Tank Engine, to Batman and other superheroes, to Lego Ninjago, Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; without so much as a nod to baseball, football, basketball or hockey.
Now, Ian beats me to the Gazette sports section each morning so he can check the standings. In honor of Levi’s 10th birthday, he and I will travel to a Bulls game in the coming weeks. He asks me about it … oh … every day.
It’s also kind of ironic, considering that when it comes to sports entities, professional or college, the NBA has long been low on my list.
In many ways, the NBA is often unwatchable for me. Too often, a single player brings the ball up the court, goes one-on-one against a defender, makes a move and puts up a shot. His four teammates might as well have been watching from the eighth row.
Worse is the final minute of the game. The Des Moines Register published an article Sunday analyzing the final minute of college basketball games, and keeping track of how much actual time elapses. The author reported that the final minute, in a close game, averages eight to 12 minutes of actual time.
I would submit that an NBA final minute takes longer.
Still, as one who grew up surrounded by sports-related toys, and is unable to fathom a childhood without them, I don’t argue. Because of my boys, I have probably watched more live action of NBA games this year than the previous five years combined.
My boys, against all odds, are NBA fans. It looks like I am too.