Last night we went to see the 76ers play The Knicks. Although football (the variety which involves kicking the ball) is my true love when it comes to sports with rugby a close second, I have come to appreciate the razzle dazzle of the NBA over the years. My introduction to the sport came in '93 when I was on Hachshara and stayed up to watch Jordan and the Bulls winning the Championship with their first great team and since then I have kept track via TV and the internet.
Since Jordan retired (hopefully for the last time...) my favourite player has been a guy called Allen Iverson. He's the league's top scorer, a great attacking player, but most importantly - he's a little guy - a mere 6'0" tall in a game which is dominated by freakishly tall men. I have a theory that there are a few exceptionally talented players in the league but in a lot of cases, size and not skill is the decisive factor - Iverson is a regular sized guy with an amazing skill. He also happens to play for the 76ers so when we were offered tickets to one of the executive suites, we accepted with alacrity.
I grew up in England, where stadia were often run down with awful facilities - Wembley, the National Stadium may have had amazing atmosphere, but it was an ugly arena in which to watch the beautiful game. The Wachovia Center (sic) is an incredible modern facility in which to watch sports,- doubling up for Basketball and Hockey. Watching from on high, we were able to see the game unfolding, mixed in with American style entertainment - music, dancers, competitions - a real family occasion.
We had a great evening out - topped off by the 76ers winning the game at the buzzer in a nail biting finish - my wife surprised me by getting seriously enthusiastic, pummeling my right arm through the last quarter as the scores got closer and closer.
Although the atmosphere is a little fake when created by announcers and music, in comparison with that at English football crowds where supporters sing for 90 minutes, I can't help but feel that worldwide sports have a lot to learn from this example - warm, safe and fun!