Watching sports should be enjoyable and those playing it for the fans should also have fun. The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) top honchos definitely have these in mind when they slammed harsh penalties on different personalities in their leagues.
Fan interest is paramount
Both leagues made commendable choices by putting fan interests about all.
Aside from the obvious fact that these leagues’ primary aim is to put people in playing arenas and attract viewers in front of television sets or gadgets, the idea of providing exciting live entertainment through competition in a safe environment was not lost on them.
PBA Commissioner Willie Marcial was clear in his explanation on this. His slapping an indefinite suspension to Phoenix’s forward Calvin Abueva was partly because of an earlier incident with Bobby Ray Parks’ girlfriend, Maika Rivera, that involves exchanges of vulgar language, dirty finger signs, and sexual gestures.
It didn’t matter that Rivera also admitted she flashed the “finger” to Abueva.
Fans troop to playing venues to enjoy the game. That’s why leagues throw out fans with unruly behavior because they show evidently that they have intentions other than to enjoy the game and, in the process, deprive others from having one.
Injuring a player is also depriving the fans
The acts that take out other players from the hardcourt is also not only depriving that player himself of livelihood but also the fan base.
Take into consideration why Ginebra fans couldn’t see Jeff Chan on the floor. It is because James Sena stuck his foot in Chan’s landing spot. Although the action is not intentional on his part, Sena is causing Chan to miss games and not only depriving Ginebra’s possible wins but the Ginebra fan base and the PBA fan base as a whole to witness one of its shooters play.
Abueva’s hit on Terrence Jones was dangerous. Hits like those, ones that are delivered to an unsuspecting victim in the head area have been proven time and time again to be dangerous and could sideline the victim to extents that could affect how he goes on with his life outside the court.
That goes the same for Golden State Warriors investor Mark Stevens. The act of shoving Kyle Lowry, who was making a brilliant play for the ball causing him to fall to the stands, could lead to events that will sideline the Toronto guard and deprive the Raptors fans, and the NBA fans in general, a chance to see him on the floor.
It din’t matter that wasn’t a strong shove in this case. Allowing fan contacts like this one could go awry and could result to something untoward. What would be a better example than the “Malice at the Palace” incident where an innocent cup of beer thrown by a fan at a fuming player sparked the biggest brawl in NBA history where many of the harshest penalties subsequently imposed sidelined some of the players then.
The NBA did slap Stevens with a one-year ban, even as calls for his removal in the league piles on.
Basketball, not basketbrawl, Entertainment
Abueva’s style of play, undoubtedly, is adored by many. And understandably, it should be.
But a lot is also turned off by his antics, especially how he initiates confrontation and how he reacts when engaged by his opposition.
The physical plays will always be part of basket entertainment. It is, after all, a contact sport.
It’s just that physical play is not the only reason why fans watch basketball games.
Case in point: Did you see the Northport-San Miguel Beer PBA game last June 5?
There occurred a sequence of three consecutive plays that will delight every PBA fan, even basketball fans worldwide in general.
Northport import Prince Ibeh dunked at one point in the game and made a gesture that only he could say what it meant towards the San Miguel bench.
The Beermen’s answer, a great response I may add, came quickly as June Mar Fajardo slammed one amidst the upraised arms of Ibeh in the ensuing play and mimicked the same gesture while sprinting back in defense.
Ibeh seemed not to mind the side actions and flushed another slam to get the last word.
Three brilliant dunks with gestures of showing up the opposition. And no physical confrontation. Surely a lot of fans would love these over some two dudes fighting with closed fists.
So is this shootout between Stephen Curry, who finished with 47 points, along with 8 rebounds and 7 assists, and Kyle Lowry, who registered 23 points, including 5 triples and 9 assists in Game 3 of the current NBA Finals. No physical confrontation was also involved and the action still brought brilliant basketball entertainment.
What contact should be allowed
The PBA has a problem in its stance of allowing excessive contact.
Abueva loves to initiate contact and sustain them throughout the game. No problem here because it’s how he plays. The problem is the PBA is playing with fire by allowing certain physical contacts as a result of his antics and could potentially erupt into fights.
Usually, Abueva’s opponents ignore him and just play their game but it is hard to assume this would always be the case.
The Abueva-Jones incident is the exemption. Abueva had been pestering the prolific Talk N Text import for a while in that game and he was ignored early. The continuous physicality, however, led to the buildup of emotions which could no longer be contained as the game went on.
It could easily be avoided had the PBA, through its referees, not been afraid to blow their whistles and call for fouls and warnings on contacts that could be no longer considered part of the game early.
The PBA should revisit this stance and restudy what kind of physical plays should be allowed. It wouldn’t surprise anybody if incidents like this happen again because of the excessive physicality allowed.
Power of fans
It was nice to know that both leagues value their fans and acknowledged their roles.
Truth to be told, it’s the fans, the ticket buyers, the loyal TV viewers, the season ticket holders of the NBA, among others, are the main reasons why these leagues are flourishing and why today’s players received a huge payday.
It’s this simple: players can do all what they want. Train hard, behave properly, perfect their craft and put on a good show. But they will never get paid if they play their games in front of an empty stadium.
That’s why leagues have to promote their players for fans to watch them. Games would really mean nothing financially if there ain’t nobody watching.
If Rivera wants to get her revenge, she may want to refuse to buy tickets to the games and influence others to follow suit.
Unfortunately, she may not want to do this as his boyfriend is also a recipient of the benefits of being a professional player in Asia’s oldest basketball league.
By: ARMANDO M. BOLISLIS