Ball Don't Lie - NBA

February 15, 2010

Take a bow, Texas

Well, that was stupid, wasn't it?

And pointless and useless and needless and without merit and without substance and so, so, worth it. So much fun.

All we've gotten, from the outside, is effusive testimonial after sincere batch of praise after honest-to-goodness exclamation that this thing - this giant mess orchestrated by two of the showiest owners in pro sports history - was nothing short of a fantastic experience. That presence, alone, was worth it. Even if the contests didn't go as expected, even if the sightlines were poor, the snow a bit scary, the hassle unmatched in the annals of hassledom.

That's all we've gotten. And you can only hear so much before you start to believe them.

This isn't a bit of jealous pique from yours truly. I wasn't there for a reason, but I can tell you I'm beyond chuffed at the prospect of so many participants that I dig and respect having the time of their lives.

Counting media, more than 110,000 people were in a building to watch the All-Star Game on Sunday, mostly on a giant big screen TV that would seem to only work in a CGI'd movie, Dubai pre-2009, and, yes, Texas.

I've seen the little Tweeted photos from press row, perched somewhere south of Oklahoma, and you can't see a damn thing but that TV. God knows how these guys and gals got to the locker room post game within the hour - unless the lockers and media room was actually planted within that TV. Maybe that's where the Bilderberg Group meets. Have we seen Lenin's tomb, recently? Is that crusty old Bolshevik perched inside the screen? Does the TV talk? Can it love?

You just get the feeling that this bit of nonsense was appreciated by all involved. A little bit of unapologetic U-S-A stuck right inside of a dreary February, with half of the country under several feet of snow, stuck in a recession, with families across all 50 states clipping coupons and pricing out four-cylinder vehicles. That while the 2007 All-Star Game, played without reflex in Las Vegas, seemed to swing too close to a sense of hedonism that still isn't suffered gladly by the general population, this ridiculous display seemed to have some merit.

Merit doesn't have to have function, mind you, but there is a glow emanating from Arlington, Texas, right now. And it ain't the TV. Part of it's the TV. OK, a lot of it is the TV.

But it's not all the TV. I've heard very good writers - scribes that don't usually bother with anything outside of trade rumors and who's going where - prattle on endlessly about the spectacle. I've seen Tweets from people who could barely get into the city a day late, after having to no doubt deal with insufferable crowds and waits and slush and poor sightlines and little hoop-related fodder for copy, acting as if they'd do it all again. Right now. No instinct to get back to their own bed, to their own localized brand of snow. Do it all over.

And for that, from someone who watched from the comfort of his living room, I guess we have to thank Mark Cuban and Jerry Jones. Two guys who have done nothing but make themselves the story for 10 and 20 years created something that was much, much bigger than them. Something organic, even if spurred on by digital technology, hype and oodles of lucre. Something that was unique to the Republic of Texas, which has long represented some of this country's best and worst instincts in full, something that couldn't be pulled off anywhere else.

Not Los Angeles, even with all that star power. Not Las Vegas, even with all that implied impermanence (and eventual, implied skeeviness). Not Atlanta, the NBA's tertiary home base after Manhattan and Secaucus, not with that traffic. Not Indiana. Not Chicago. Not our nation's capital, not even the Home of the Whopper.

Texas. Where it snows, apparently. Where both Jones and Cuban had to go to find fame, if not fortune. A place that creates a sense of pride amongst its many residents that is off-putting at its worst and inescapably charming at its finest. Everything's bigger there, they tell me.

And nothing was bigger than last night, and the weekend that preceded it. About 110,000 people watched a basketball game, a pretty good basketball game, but one that still meant absolutely nothing. And yet, all we got from the spectators - and those jaundiced where's-my-free-parka media throngs - was that this was something to behold. If you couldn't understand why those damned hippies spoke lovingly of the rain and mud when they couldn't even see or hear Sly Stone at Woodstock, you might have been able to understand this.

Tomorrow we get back to business. Trades are to be constructed, games will be played, shootarounds will mean something with those playoff brackets to fill. But for now, we're still a little rosy at the prospect of whatever the hell it was that we just saw. Something so absurd and so irascible and so over the top and so blindingly fantastic that you know it could only come from this corner of the continental 48.

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