Summer of Nothing: Steve Watches the 2012 NBA Finals

It may be hard to believe, but I used to be a huge NBA fan.

I worshipped at two churches each Sunday during my youth. One was Roman Catholic, the other was the Church of Jordan. The T.V. set in the Uhlmann household would be set every Sunday to the NBA on NBC and the sweet sounds of John Tesh’s awesome theme music and Marv Albert (Saturday belonged to the NHL on Fox.) Every day after kindergarden, I’d come home to a game of NBA Live ’98 to see how many points I could drop with Jordan or Reggie Miller against the computer.

But then Ben Howland became the head coach of the University of Pittsburgh basketball team at the turn of the millenium, and with that came a competitive team on the hardwood in my hometown. My attention shifted to the professional ranks to the college game, to which I still follow more closely to this day. I gave the NBA one last go with the Minnesota Timberwolves of the mid-2000s, but after Kevin Garnett decided to ruin that franchise, I gave up.

The 2012 NBA Playoffs have been different. With the Penguins’ season ending earlier than expected, I found myself peaking into the match-ups more often, watching bits and pieces here and there. With me having absolutely nothing to do so far this summer, I decided to pay special attention to the NBA Finals, culminating in me watching an NBA game from beginning to end for the first time in approximately six years.

Here is what I took out of Game 2.

-We are witnessing something special in the play of Kevin Durant and LeBron James. They are this generation’s Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson. At times, I had the feeling that the two were competing mono y mono through much of the game, which is exciting to watch.

-There is so little structure in the NBA that it becomes hard to watch at times. Even the great teams of the past, even the Bulls teams of the ’90’s had an offensive set (the Triangle Offense helped Phil Jackson win 11 titles between Chicago and L.A.) You just don’t see it anymore. Teams just have their stars run isolation or pick-and-rolls, and this was definitely the case with the Heat. One of these days, coaches will realize team basketball on offense will lead to more success. For my sake, I hope they realize it so the product can be much better.

-Oklahoma City fans are one of the best groups fans for any of the four pro sports leagues that I’ve ever seen. Even with their team down double digits early, they never sat on their hands. With how loud it sounded on just T.V., I can’t imagine what it would be like to be there in person.

-Going along with that point, why must NBA teams continue to feel the need to have to blare music during every possible second, including while the ball is in play? You don’t hear music once the puck is dropped in the NHL, or once the quarterback goes under center in the NFL. OKC’s fans were loud enough, so there was no need to attempt to drown them out with OutKast instrumentals.

-I’m very excited for the rest of this series. Though the series is 1-1 with it shifting to Miami for the next three, OKC is still very much in the series. If they can win just one game in Miami, having Games 6 and 7 at home with their home-court advantage has me thinking they still have a good chance to bring home the hardware. Final prediction: Thunder in 7.

Summer of Nothing: Dwight Smith Watch

On June 9, 2011, something remarkable happened.

I had nothing to do.

No schoolwork, no articles, no meetings, nothing.

It was then that I officially dubbed the summer of 2012 the “Summer of Nothing”. I have a part-time job where I write articles from home for 12 hours per week. After that, nothing.

With this new-found freedom that has escaped me for the past two years, I need to find some things to do to pass the time. Going to Pirates games and watching Game Show Network can only get me so far.

I really want to ramp up content on this blog over the next three months, and I received some inspiration from a likely source.

I had gone to Wal-Mart this past weekend and bought a pack of baseball cards (imagine that). In my pack of 2012 Bowman Baseball, a product that traditionally spotlights the biggest prospects in the game, I pulled this. A card autographed by Blue Jays prospect Dwight Smith.

I had never pulled an autographed card in my life to that point, and it gave me a brilliant idea. I’m not one for “prospecting” when collecting cards, but those who do like to collect young ballplayers’ cards and monitor their rise through the ranks. I’d figure I could do the same during this “Summer of Nothing” and keep tabs on Smith, who was the second-round pick of the Blue Jays in last year’s draft.

So it’s official, you are on watch Dwight, and I will be posting your progress on this blog from time to time. The “Summer of Nothing” could be the beginning of your rise to stardom, or making that piece of cardboard worth, well, the price of a piece of cardboard.