More on the Basketball Problem

The editor of the online Observer, Jake Brooks, a Miami Heat fan, doesn’t agree with me about the meaninglessness of basketball’s first three quarters:

I’ve heard this complaint voiced many times. I have even complained myself about the same thing. But
there are players today–Lebron, Kobe, Dwyane–that make you want to watch the entire game just to see what they’ll do. Also: there are things that happen in the first three quarters that give you a better idea how, why and where a game is going–ie no. of fouls, matchups. It’s about narrative. Without the first three quarters, you may be entertained, but you’ll have no sense of narrative, which is important if you care about the series as a whole and want to understand your team.

My answer is maybe he’s more evolved than me, because for me it’s not about narrative, it’s about competition. I’d watch a cheese chasing race—apparently they have these—if it was close. I look for meaningful incident, not bravura performance per se. I suppose you can say the Yankees’ five-run 11th inning that beat the Tigers last night shows baseball falls short, too. But the teams scored 17 runs, not 220 points, all told, and the early runs might well have won the game. The first 3/4 of points in basketball almost never do.