The perils of the NBA playoffs
Game 1 of the NBA Finals 2010. No, this is not a summary account of who won or lost; nor is it an in-depth analysis of what went wrong for the Celtics (they were the ones who lost btw). Rather, this is a heart wrenching story of a boy who is still searching for that one elusive chance to watch an NBA Finals game live on television. Yes, I have never witnessed NBA Finals action live, but this is not for lack of trying. It’s not my fault really- following basketball in India has historically been difficult!
Problem 1: Half the games are not even telecast on TV (ESPN STAR arbitrarily decides what matches to show and which to chuck).
Problem 2: Cricket, cricket, cricket. We have the good old cable operator at home and no Direct-to-Home (DTH) Service like TATA Sky or Dish TV. At my place the cable guy allows only two sports channels. I had called him last year- the night before the NBA Finals 2009 (and I am talking here about the NBA Finals- no less!) and asked him to make sure he puts ESPN the next morning. He tells me that there is some random cricket match and he would get lynched if he removed NEO Sports. The sad part was that there wasn’t even a cricket match happening at that time (since NBA matches in India are telecast live very early in the morning and get over no later than 10-10:30 a.m.). I tried convincing him but the logic fell on deaf ears. He has got so bugged with me that he doesn’t even pick up his phone nowadays.
Problem 3: Watching TV in the morning is a strict no-no at my place, indeed in many households, where mornings are meant to be quiet and peaceful. The only allowable sound to break the tranquility is the rustling which accompanies the turning of pages of the newspaper. One of my old habits is to wake up and immediately rush to the TV without even brushing my teeth, to catch whatever is left of NBA action. If there wasn’t a game happening I would immediately switch off the TV- mindful of old traditions of morning silence and family breakfasts. I usually wake up in time to catch the last quarter of any game and pray to the basketball Lords that the game will go into overtime (for the selfish reason that I will get to watch more basketball).
Problem 4: College. In college, following basketball presents its own difficulties. 2/3rds of the year I am away in college. While this means that there are no regulatory parental controls on viewership (see problem 3), it also means that there is no TV at hand (yes I belong to a college where hostels don’t have common rooms with television sets).
Also we have classes that we have to attend. My college has a 70% attendance requirement, the rest 30% I consume in the following manner:
(i) Taking part in basketball tournaments -15%
(ii) Falling sick from all sorts of diseases normally afflicting the stomach- 10% (hygiene and hostel are two irreconcilable terms you see- the only thing common between them is the “h”)
(iii) Last minute assignments and projects which I could have done earlier (but who are we kidding here…its college- nobody does their work on time) so another 5% gone here.
The problem with the above is that it leaves no margin for bunking classes for “other” reasons. You know what these “other” reasons I’m talking about are: yes- Watching basketball matches! By a stroke of good fortune, a floormate of mine managed to get a Tata Sky connection on his laptop. The very next morning we were watching game 1 of the Lakers-OKC first round playoff series and were so engrossed in the game that we ended up bunking the next class. The ramifications of succumbing to such temptation were immediately felt: we were now on the wrong side of the dreaded 70% attendance line.
Current status: My mom, using her enviable social networking skills found a neighbour who happened to have played basketball for Delhi and more importantly had a Tata Sky connection. So I went over to their place at 6:30 in the morning to watch the first game of the Finals. As luck would have it, their TATA Sky connection wasn’t working. We tried fiddling around with the antenna in the vain hope that it may suddenly decide to pick up some signal. Not surprisingly, this didn’t work. I trudged back home and made a last ditch attempt to watch the game online. But a slow internet connection put paid to any hopes of watching Kobe and the Lakers dismantle the Celtics.
Monday 5:30 am on ESPN. Game 2 for you guys, game 1 for me.