I normally don't get that excited about the NBA. Not usually even in May and June when its down to the finals, and certainly not in March, a time reserved for NCAA men's college basketball. But this year is different.
I watched Illinois win, and I'll be watching them square off against Wisconsin who came back to defeat Michigan State. I'll certainly catch a glimpse of what Georgia does - a team that won four conference games all year who won in a thrilling overtime game against Kentucky and then went on to defeat Mississippi State on the same day. It seems the Georgia Dome was torn up by a tornado and they had to wind up playing the games in Georgia Tech's Alexander Memorial Coliseum. I'll check in when the Bulldogs face the Razorbacks of Arkansas (who upset the Volunteers of Tennessee) in the SEC final.
I'm an ACC guy from way back, so I also caught Virginia Tech almost, but not quite knocking North Carolina out of the ACC tourney. Tyler Hansbrough once again carried the Tarheels on his back when it mattered. For the past many years now, Gorman and I have participated in an NCAA "Calcutta" Auction pool. There's one guy we always like to see suffer just because he's a Duke fan, and now, on top of that, he's a Nielsen employee so on behalf of Jericho fans everywhere, we don't want him doing well in the pool. March Madness is in full swing - so why do I care about the NBA?
The NBA is fun again. Exciting. In March even. Yesterday, after a long afternoon of watching college hoops I watched the Golden State Warriors defeat the Memphis Grizzlies in a game that really mattered. The Warriors are currently in the 8th and final playoff spot, a couple of games ahead of Denver. But here's how exciting it is - the Warriors are only FOUR games behind the Lakers and the Rockets who are in first place. So the spread as I write this between ALL the playoff teams in the Western Conference is only four games. There are a lot of good teams who can play and I'm really looking forward to what should be a very exciting NBA playoffs.
And for the first time in years, at least for me, the stretch run towards the playoffs is exciting. Today the first place tie between the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers will be broken when they square off at 12:30pm PDT on ABC. And in about 10 minutes at 10am PDT, New Orleans, one of the best teams in the Western conference faces one of the few good teams in the East, the Detroit Pistons (also on ABC). Almost without question, this is the first pro basketball game I'll have watched before noon my time - perhaps in the entire time I've lived on the West coast, which will very soon be 10 years.
For me, this year's March Madness definitely includes the NBA.