Last night, ESPN’s Annual Crossover event switched the NBA broadcasters with the Kings of Kings, NCAA broadcasters Dickie V and Bill Walton, in a pair of NBA/NCAA doubleheaders on ESPN and ESPN2. Anytime Bill Walton is commentating, it’s must-see TV. I love the guy. So much so, I went through his TV schedule for the rest of the year and set reminders for each game, like this past Saturday.
Amidst all my other awesome stuff going on, I still find time for Bill.
That got me thinking where the ESPN Crossover Night ranks amongst other great basketball events.
I’m grading my rankings with a score out of 100 with the following airtight formula.
Stakes Involved (__/30) +Conversation Startability (__/25) + Gambling Interest (__/20) + How likely am I to leave home to watch with others? (__/10) + Social Media Entertainment (__/10) + Does your Mom watch? (__/5)
PLUS Bonus Points if it is acceptable to get very drunk while watching.
Without wasting anymore of your precious time, here is my Top Five.
No. 5) NBA Trade Deadline
The Trade Deadline was last Thursday, and I happened to be out in public amongst other humans (working, not socializing). I won’t disclose where I was so as to avoid hordes of crazed females tracking my whereabouts, but every single man in the room was on his phone. I turned my Twitter notifications on for Woj-bombs. I risked looking at my phone at work to see the updates cause I’m a bad boy, and I was not disappointed. Found myself talking NBA with random people all day. Some people say the NBA stinks a little bit cause the Warriors are guaranteed to win it all, but what the Cav’s were able to pull off STILL has people talking about it. Just this moment, almost a week later, I’m still getting pushed Woj tweets:
Despite no basketball being actually played, The Trade Deadline still takes over the day.
(21/30) Stakes Involved – If a Superstar is traded, which is possible, it changes everything. This year, that didn’t happen, BUT, the Final’s may actually be interesting now. That being said, they’re 4 months away and the Warriors still have 4 of the best 15 players in the League.
(23/25) Conversation Startability – The ladies at work asked us a couple times “please can we talk about anything but basketball” to which I would I lean in and give the Bro’s a Get a load of this loser look, and counter the request with a question like “Do you think Larry Nance Jr. will improve the abysmal Cleveland defense with his ability to switch screens and guard multiple positions?” further securing my Alpha status amongst my work peers.
(6/20) Gambling Interest – The only thing this affects are preseason futures bets and NBA Championship Odd’s
(0/10) How likely am I to watch in a group setting? – Nothing to watch.
(10/10) Social Media Entertainment – NBA Twitter’s best personalities pump out their best heat.
(0/5) Does your Mom watch? The only people paying attention are NBA fans.
Bonus? I’ve been told it is frowned upon to drink heavily on a Thursday morning.
No. 4) NBA Crossover Night
I touched on last nights event, and my love for Bill Walton, already so I won’t beat a dead(head) horse. Here’s something you can expect during a normal Bill Walton broadcast.
If I had any money whatsoever I would give it all to hang out in Bill Walton’s teepee before going to a basketball game with him. No.1 Bucket Item list for me.
By the way, I have completely glossed over Dickie V announcing the Celtics/Clippers game. He was great, my only complaint was he mentioned Rick Pitino at least 50 times, and every time I hear Rick Pitino’s name, I picture him having extremely brief sex in a restaurant with somebody that wasn’t his wife. The NBA is sending Hubie Brown to a Duke game, so I may as well shoot myself. I mute Hubie Brown 100% of the time, he sucks, sorry. Respect to a legend, but somebody unplug his mic and just let him ramble silently please.
Anyway. Let’s score it.
(21/30) Stakes Involved – The timing of Crossover Night is crucial. It comes right in time to help with our post-football season depression. Have a rough hump day? Put on your favorite tye-dye shirt, step into your own teepee, and listen to Bill endorse “More Mushrooms, Less Mushroom Clouds” while Steph and DameDolla trade 30 footers during their race to 50 points. The stakes are low risk/high return. If you don’t catch the game, you won’t cry about it. But if you’re able to listen to 2.5 hours of a likely stoned, filterless NBA Legend volunteering stories from 1970’s NBA Locker Rooms, you’ll be much better off at the end of the night.
(22/25) Conversation Startability – When hasn’t “Did you hear Ball Walton invite Dave Pasch’s 12 year old son to go on the Grateful Dead tour with him last night during the game?” worked as a pickup line at a bar? Never.
(14/20) Gambling Interest – Unfortunately, there are no “Will Bill Walton light a joint at halftime?” odds listed on any major gambling sites. However, betting on the Warriors/Blazers over is not only fun to watch, but probably a lock as well.
(0/10) How likely am I to leave home to watch with others? – The opposite, I made a teepee out of bedsheets and watched in there, discovering uncharted levels of loneliness.
(5/5) Social Media Entertainment – 5 Bonus Points awarded for Bill’s performance last night.
(2/5) Does your Mom watch? Maybe?
Bonus? Teepee time certainly isn’t a sober reflection period. +3 points.
No. 3) Final Four Saturday
College Basketball’s second biggest event, and the first is certainly not The NCAA Championship game. After a long weekend of Final Four drinking, I’m supposed to stumble into work on a Monday and grit my way through 8-10 hours of misery, only to stay up til midnight with beers and heartburn foods all over again? No thank you.
What’s better than one HUGE games? Two nearly-as-HUGE games with a day of recovery afterwards.
(26/30) Stakes Involved – It’s not the Championship, but it’s presented as such.
(25/25) Conversation Startability – “Who ya got tonight?” is the easiest question to ask anybody. It shows you know theres a sporting event tonight and you may even care. Memorize some statistics and even the awkwardest of people can pull off looking somewhat sociable for a brief period of time.
(12/20) Gambling Interest – Hmm. A tossup. By now, I’ve likely lost all of my money already in Bracket Pools and the previous 64 games played. On the contrary, I could convince myself I know these teams really well by now so I should be able to pick a winner. I’ll score it in the middle.
(9/10) How likely am I to watch in a group setting? – Nearly guaranteed.
(4/10) Social Media Entertainment – I’m really only checking to see if NBA guys are watching and reacting.
(5/5) Does your Mom watch? Yep.
Bonus? It would disrespectful not to drink. Thank God for Uber. +5 points.
No. 2) Game 7 NBA Finals
Surely the pinnacle game of the NBA Finals is No. 1, right? Wrong. Game 7 isn’t guaranteed. Hell, Game 5 or 6 isn’t either. The Finals could be a non-event. Last year, the conclusion of the season was already known in August. Who knows what will happen this year, but I don’t think we will the Game 7 we all crave.
That being said, if the stars (and matchups) align and we get a Game 7, the whole event is perfect. Two or three days of anticipation. Storylines develop, rivalries are formed, the ref’s swallow their whistles and let them play, and legacies like LeBron’s are cemented in moments like The Block.
(30/30) Stakes Involved – Won’t waste words explaining.
(25/25) Conversation Startability – *See “Who ya got tonight?” reasoning*
(17/20) Gambling Interest – There’s a couple of angles here. Only the real gamblers or team fans would have futures bets. Again, I think this is one of those games that is so big it doesn’t require gambling on it to raise the stakes and be entertained. That being said, there are so many props to get in on and research to do it’s a great betting night.
(8/10) How likely am I to watch in a group setting? – Game 7’s fall on Sundays, which takes the group setting appeal out of it somewhat, but a barbecue with some recovery beers and friends after a long night out? Sign me up.
(4/10) Social Media Entertainment – The Pregame shows pump out most of the social media interactions. The real story is in the actual game and I don’t want to miss anything looking at my phone.
(5/5) Does your Mom watch? Yep.
Bonus? Drinking on a Sunday night is another tough look. It’s definitely possible, but getting plastered is probably out of the question. +1 points.
No. 1) First Weekend of the NCAA Tournament
There’s no talking me out of this. It’s perfect. For TWO DAYS, from 12:10 PM Eastern Time to roughly 1 AM, the most energetic basketball you will ever see takes place. Every single one of these kids is the most excited they have ever been and they leave absolutely nothing on the court. The inevitable effort play compilation makes me cry like a baby.
Any clue how many times you’ll see a kid make up for his lack of athletic ability with a willingness to give up his body for the team by taking a charge over the course of 32 college basketball games?! Lotsa times, and I wanna see every one of the player/bench reactions. Don’t even get me started on the “This is what all the 6 AM Conditioning Session’s were for” videos.
Scoring this is pointless, but I’ll go about it anyway.
(30/30) Stakes Involved – All the Stakes.
(25/25) Conversation Startability – The most Startable.
(20/20) Gambling Interest – So many plays here. I can bet futures, I can bet individual games and parlay them with other game. I can join as many bracket pools as I can afford (not many). Plus, there’s always the impossible chance somebody gets a perfect bracket and wins a billion dollars. Whenever I finish that bracket I always lean back and imagine what I would fo with a billion dollars, an extremely good time for anybody who hasn’t done so recently. Then, the possibility you win a moneyline bet on a buzzer beater. Or lose. You get the point.
(10/10) How likely am I to watch in a group setting? – A couple years ago, I was a tax accountant in the middle of tax season cranking out tax returns on one monitor with a game on the other monitor, one game on my laptop, one game on my iPad, and one game on my phone. Nobody complained, they simply joined me for 10 minutes at a time. A group of tax accountants amidst tax season in the office is the unlikeliest group watch setting candidate on Earth, and it happened organically in that stale cubefarm.
(10/10) Social Media Entertainment – Stories of players backgrounds surface. School twitter accounts take shots at other schools. The lone perfect brackets begin to surface. Most importantly, my personal favorite activity, bashing how the NCAA is making billions of dollars right in front of our eyes but we can’t pay the
Slaves Assets Student-Athletes that they own, is never more relevant.
(5/5) Does your Mom watch? Yep, and will probably call me after every Miami Hurricane/Florida Gulf Coast/Georgia Southern game.
Bonus? The only sporting day equally suited for heavy drinking like the first two days of the NCAA Tournament is The World Cup. Good company. +7 points.
Honorable Mentions: (NBA Draft / NBA Free Agent Signing Period / NCAA Conference Championships / ACC-B1G Challenge / NBA Opening Night)
Biggest Snub: NBA All-Star Weekend. The Dunk Contest is great, but it comes and goes and nobody really cares about it. Still fun to watch though. Until they fix this All-Star Draft by moving it to a couple days before the actual game to avoid all the replacement fiasco, televise The Draft with Live reactions, and figure out how to make the game competitive, I’ll leave it off my list.
Don’t @ Me.