Chuck Klosterman's great little essay on ESPN's Page 2 wonders why the NBA always seems to be in crisis mode.
Pro football players execute dogs, rain cash on strippers and overpopulate the drunk tanks of metro Cincinnati, but the NFL's popularity remains totally unfazed. Meanwhile, the NBA continues to fret about whether it should use a different ball. Unlike other sports, pro hoops tries to actively reinterpret the meaning of everything it is; it wants to control the way fans think about it.
He concludes that a big part of the problem is the NBA's determination to manufacture an image for itself that departs from reality (Utah vs. Milwaukee in February is AMAZING!). Klosterman continues:
The NBA seems worse than we think it should be because we unconsciously believe it should be better than it is. At the same time, the NBA machine keeps insisting that what we're seeing on TV is better than it really is and that all the league's problems are strengths. It's a dichotomy that permeates pro basketball in totality, and it makes people think and say, "Man, I think the NBA is in trouble." And they're right. But the NBA is always in trouble. Always.
And that means something else entirely.
It means that problems are normal.