I know this is a Yankees blog, but there’s not much news going on in the Yankee Universe right now.  There usually is a void of baseball news from Dec 15-Feb 15 and its especially huge during the Jan 15-Feb 15 period, what with NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl, the NBA and NHL All-Star Games, the Daytona 500 and this year, the Winter Olympics.  So this post is about something completely non-Yankees.

I was listening as some of the ESPN commentators the other day were discussing why ratings for the NBA All-Star game aren’t that high and how they felt that casual basketball fans were no longer watching the NBA.  I regret that I cannot remember who the commentators were, but I felt that they hit the ball out of the park, so to speak.

The NBA is no longer the game I remember, the game I grew up with and as a result of that, I don’t think I have watched a full game, regular or postseason in almost 5 years.  I can’t relate with anything about this game anymore, the players are different and the game just feels different.  I’ve come up with 4 reasons why I cannot relate anymore.

1. What’s with the handshakes? I caught the beginning of the Magic-Cavs game the other night.  I watched Lebron James do a unique and special handshake with almost every teammate and, I think, the entire stadium too.  I couldn’t believe it as the TV cameras followed him for near 5 minutes as this went on.  I don’t want to watch this!  I tuned in because nothing else was on and I hoped to catch a good game, but I couldn’t believe the amount of handshakes.

2.) Lebron is really good and really cool, but enough already! Some people need a reminder about this.  Maybe it’s mostly the media’s fault, but there are other guys in the NBA who are as dominating as he is, yet his every move is reported on.  And it doesn’t stop there.  It seems like every single nationally televised game involves Lebron’s Cleveland Cavaliers.  Teams like Denver and Atlanta are doing well and have some top players, but they never seem to be on.

3.) Who can relate to these guys? It’s not just Lebron.  He’s a great guy.  After all, he’s a Yankee fan.  But the top players today aren’t the top players from 15 years ago.  Guys like Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning, Reggie Miller, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Clyde Drexler, Isiah Thomas, Karl Malone, John Stockton and David Robinson seemed like guys who you could look up to.  They seemed like normal guys.  Now, NBA players seemingly have tattoos everywhere, and weird ones at that – lips on a neck, pictures of themselves and superman signs on their arms.  These guys make millions and then go weird.  At least baseball players who make millions could still blend into a crowd of normal people.

4.) The Knicks have sucked for about 10 Years now. If it wasn’t for the uniforms, I wouldn’t believe you if you told me that this was the same franchise that used to make the playoffs every year and was dominating.  The Knicks have made the playoffs once since this century began and haven’t had a winning record since the 2000-01 season.  This is the same team who made it to at least the second round of the playoffs for the entire 1990 decade behind such unforgettable players as Ewing, Allan Houston, Charles Oakley, John Starks and Charlie Ward.  This team would have had at least one championship, probably more if it hadn’t been for Jordan’s 6 titles in the 90’s.

Sadly, this team has regressed into a joke of an organization.  Beginning with the end of the Ewing Era in 2000, the Knicks have tried to win by overpaying for underachieving players such as Howard Eisley, Steve Francis and Stephon Marbury, to name only a few.  That combined with mismanagement, horrible coaching, and a sexual harassment lawsuit in 2007 that revealed disappointing details about the environment and management practices in the Knicks organization.

It even seemed that the additions of Donnie Walsh as president and Mike D’Antoni as head coach in the 2008 offseason would improve the team, but it has still floundered – seemingly biding time until the 2010 offseason and the impressive free agent class available.  Still, the team is atrocious, not just bad, and it’s painful to watch them.