NBA Fan Bases, Skill Sets, and Bodies of Work

Published June 14, 2011

National Review Online

Another NBA season is in the rear-view mirror, and given impending labor strife between grotesquely tattooed millionaire players and their billionaire owners, another such marathon may be a long way down the road. If there’s a hiatus in professional hoops, TV announcers and analysts and sports-radio talkers could put it to good use by undergoing whatever forms of shock therapy are required to stop them from turning fans into a “fan base,” skills into a “skill set,” and a season into a “body of work.”

This rhetorical inflation was on full display during the Mavericks-Heat championship series (orthographically presented by the NBA as The Finals, in a vaguely antebellum, Gone With the Wind scrolled script that might be appropriate for The Masters but seems weird in the high-testosterone and very black world of professional basketball). Thus some of the Dallas “fan base” came to South Beach for the sixth and final game, wherein LeBron James demonstrated that his “skill set” has an unfortunate tendency to go on vacation during the fourth quarters of Games That Count, thus casting into doubt his “body of work” since the NBA season opened, back when Nancy Pelosi was Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and LeBron-bashing had not yet become a contender for the title of national pastime.

No. Mavericks fans came to South Beach and had themselves a ball while Dirk Nowitzki showed skills (and guts) that some thought he lacked, thus helping bring to a satisfactory conclusion the morality play of The Season of the “Chosen One,” as one of LeBron’s tattoos modestly identifies him. Messianism among super-rich and immature athletes is something which America must, evidently, endure. But enough with the microphone-jockeys sounding like sociology professors from Moo U.

George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. and holds EPPC’s William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.

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