Videos by OutKick
The NBA still has a lot going for it.
Sure, the product on the court isn’t what it was during the Michael Jordan era, but there’s still some good, fun basketball being played. That was evident when Deandre Ayton threw down a game-winning alley-oop to take Game 2 against the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night.
With the Suns down 102-103 with 0.9 seconds left in the game, Jae Crowder lobbed an out-of-bounds pass up over the goal. Ayton, the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, took the lob and knocked in a quick dunk as the buzzer went off.
Game. Set. Match. Phoenix won 104-103.
EVERY ANGLE of Jae Crowder's pinpoint pass to Deandre Ayton to win Game 2 for the @Suns! #NBAPlayoffs #ThatsGame #NBAWCF presented by AT&T continues with Game 3 on Thursday at 9pm/et on ESPN pic.twitter.com/JMEXIj0erK
— NBA (@NBA) June 23, 2021
That outstanding sequence gave the Suns a 2-0 lead heading into Thursday night’s Game 3. Fun play, right? I’ve been coming in and out of the NBA playoffs, but I just so happened to catch this game-winner live. I enjoyed it, but it also made me realize something.
The NBA still has a good product. They just need to get out of their own way.
Alienating a huge portion of their potential fanbase by pushing politics isn’t the way to go. Neither is attempting to ban the National Anthem from being played pregame while they’re throwing up celebrations of the Chinese New Year on jumbotrons.
Watching superstars such as LeBron James whine and flop on a night-in, night-out basis? Once again, not it. First off, not everything is a foul. Secondly, you’re not always going to get the call you want. Leave that over-the-top complaining to the fans and just play basketball.
I know I’m only scratching the surface of the issues a lot of people have with the sport. There are plenty of things I’m forgetting to include, but the point is this: the NBA is sabotaging its own popularity.
The speed of the game, the pure athleticism, the playoff structure … all of it can make for fun T.V. As someone who grew up watching Jordan, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing and a young Kobe Bryant, I hate to see where the game has gone today.
That especially holds true when I see plays like that final alley-oop to Ayton. It reminds me how much fun the sport can be.
Follow Clint Lamb on Twitter @ClintRLamb.