The late-night fate of Europe’s NBA fans

June 2, 2012
By Phil O’Connor Being a fan of any team is usually a thankless task. But following the fortunes of an NBA team from Europe – especially at this time of the year – is bordering on masochism. I fell for the charms of the world’s best basketball league back in the eighties, when Magic Johnson and his “Showtime” Lakers and Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics were the two top teams it had. The duels between Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Robert “the Chief” Parrish, the scoring and rebounding of James Worthy and Kevin McHale, the deep threat of Danny Ainge – not to mention Bird and Johnson – hooked me for life on the game. The advent of Michael Jordan, Karl Malone and Clyde Drexler only added to it, and the Dream Team at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 completed the NBA’s takeover of world basketball consciousness. It might seem odd that a teenager from a non-basketball nation like Ireland would fall for its charms, but given Boston’s large Irish community and the fact that there was a good likelihood I’d wind up emigrating there, it wasn’t so strange after all. I was also the tallest kid in the class all through school, which meant that if I was going to be good at any sport, I’d have a head start in basketball. Long before the internet, games and scores were followed under the covers in our Dublin home, thanks to the late-night broadcasts on the US Armed Forces Radio station. I’d often fall asleep waiting on the sports report or whatever game was on to finish. Back then, Bird was my hero, and not just for his shooting ability; his passing was breathtaking, and anyone who has ever played any ball-sport will recognise his outstanding ability and vision. I might never have become a resident of “Southie”, and I may have flirted with the greatness of His Airness when Jordan was at his peak, but the Celtics have always been my team. Nowadays it’s easier to keep up with their progress than ever before, but the advent of games streamed live on the internet has been both a pleasure and a chore. As summer begins in Europe, it means a lot of very late nights as the Celtics do battle with the Miami Heat for supremacy in the Eastern Conference. As a sports reporter, I don’t have a normal working life; a lot of what we cover takes place at night or at weekends, so our working days start later than most. Unfortunately, my children have yet to show an understanding of why I have to stay up until dawn watching Rajon Rondo play out of his skin, scoring 44 points and still losing game 2 in the conference final. They still get me up at 7 am, even if I’ve only just gone to bed. Days are spent in a state of mental exhaustion, and by the time I’ve recovered from one all-nighter, it’s tip-off time again. Next week I head for the European soccer championship in Kiev, Ukraine, which will only complicate my basketball fix. Hopefully I’ll have a few more sleepless nights this summer as the Celtics beat the Heat and go all the way to another championship.

Can the Clippers break the Laker stranglehold on LA?

December 24, 2011

By Larry Fine

The Lakers have owned Los Angeles in the NBA sense for 50 years since moving to the City of Angels from the Land of 10,000 Lakes where they were born the Minneapolis Lakers.

All I want for Christmas is…NBA – five teams and players to watch

December 23, 2011

The new NBA season took a while to come around after a five-month lockout spent negotiating an improved labor agreement. What better day to start than Dec. 25. Merry Christmas!

Heat may need a big man to take pressure off Big Three

October 28, 2010

NBA/Now that all of the hype surrounding the Miami Heat’s season opener against the Boston Celtics is over, the question remains: how good is this team?

Big shoes to fill for small U.S. basketball team

August 26, 2010

tysonWhere have all the big men gone?

The United States enters this weekend’s world basketball championships with a squad chock full of gifted NBA players but they will be lacking a dominating inside presence.

If no one shows up for a baseball game…

May 16, 2010

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Brandon Morrow follows through on a pitch against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning of their MLB American League baseball game in Toronto April 14, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Cassese

In North America sports culture summer is the time for baseball. The MLB season kicks off in early April and for the most part flies under the radar for the first few months as fans’ attention is focused on the NBA playoffs, the NFL draft and to a lesser extend the NHL playoffs.

King James may find a new castle

May 12, 2010

LeBron James is sounding like his days with the Cleveland Cavaliers are numbered.

When politics enters sports

May 5, 2010

RTR2DISA[1]suns small

For many people, watching a ball game represents a chance to escape the problems of everyday life.

Pain is an afterthought during playoffs

April 30, 2010

RTXS5T1[1]LEBRON

Often casual fans define the toughness of a sport by the extent of injury that players are willing to play through.

Ten events that capture the essence of American sport

April 27, 2010

BASEBALL/Passion for sport is no greater or less in North America than in other countries but there is a difference. The focus here is unashamedly on the domestic, with an ambivalent attitude among many fans about what the rest of the sports world is doing or thinks.