Disney dollars

I suppose you could promise yourself a league-wide boycott, which should come in handy should they decide to promote that “Sex and the City” flick at some point during the NBA Finals.

More realistically, if you do indeed decide to keep a running tab and forever boycott each and every product placement viewed during the Celtics-Lakers NBA Finals series, well then you, my friend, are a more stubborn man than I.

The “NBA Cares” all right. About Pepsi. And Reebok. And lying boyfriends venting with cans of Coors.

East Coast Bias, nothing. What we have here is yet more oversight by a professional sports league, denying an entire fan base a reasonable night’s sleep in order to pander to its advertisers. Heard this one before?

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It’s bad enough that Fox’s baseball’s postseason doesn’t normally get kicking until 8:30 — after 20 minutes of useless Kevin Kennedy analysis, mixed in with another 10 minutes of Jeanne Zelasko and Eric Byrnes playing eyeball footsie — but these NBA Finals start times are ridiculous for any basketball fan east of the Sears Tower. At least those with school or jobs to worry about.
We all understand that a 6 p.m. start time might still even be, yes, too early for the millions of hardcore sports fans that make up the greater Los Angeles area. But on the right coast, it’s a bit prohibitive for all parties involved. The recent 8:30 starts were bad enough. Now, Celtics fans are faced with 9 p.m. staring at them for at least four of the next 14 nights.
Nine p.m. Well, at least you can stay up for Saturday night’s game.
Oh, right, there isn’t one. We wouldn’t want to wreck individual Nielsen numbers with all those fans watching in the bars. Don’t plan on catching a Friday night game either. Messrs. Stern, Disney, and Anheuser took care of that for you too.
Instead, the series takes a two-night break to deliver fans a fantastic way to kick off the work week, another 9 p.m. game on Sunday night. Hooray.
The last time we whined (I prefer to call it fervently question) about late-night start times for playoff games, we received our share of West Coast correspondence that derided us for our short-sightedness. After all, by the time Los Angeleans get out of work and navigate the 405, why they might have missed the first inning or the initial five minutes of play. Truly, these were the excuses.
In retort, I hate to use the kids as an excuse, even if they remain a viable piñata. After all, how many New England kids are going to have the opportunity to stay up past midnight to watch these games? Heck, how many will actually get to go? How about the sixth-grader from Worcester who gets home past 1 in the morning only to arise for school five hours later. As long as he picks up a Diet Pepsi Max on the way to the bus stop, what does it matter?
In an age of DVR, it astounds me that fans on the West Coast can’t simply record whatever slim margin of the game they miss, only to catch up in real time before said contest is even at the halfway mark. Ah, but that would require all fans signing a doctrine of promise not to fast forward past the Verizon guy with his merry band of technological know-alls. That’s a no-go as far as David Stern is concerned. The guy has his shot at the most-watched NBA Finals in perhaps a decade. No way he’s risking those ad dollars.
I suppose they’ll argue the DVR route on that side for us as well, even if sports and “Lost” can’t realistically be expected to outlast a 12-hour record period of viability. Imagine walking into work Friday and imploring all your co-workers not to discuss the game because you’ve got it on the box at home. Go ahead, try it and report back.
You, my friend, are stuck with either staying up past the midnight hour or not watching the game at all. Of course, Option One is your only available avenue.
Perhaps you can bill the NBA for that extra shot of espresso it’s going to take the next morning. Maybe you can include on your college transcript why you managed only a B- on the final for a class you aced all year long. In LA, they’ll simply pack it in at the same time you started watching the game, with time to spare for whatever chores need to be done to prepare for the following day. As much bemoaning as they tend to do, this is why it’s great to be a sports fan on the West Coast, as the games remain an enjoyable diversion, not a hindrance to our daily life.
Once every 20 years or so these days do we get a dream matchup like this though, so the NBA could put the games on at 11 and we’d still watch. Even more ornery, but sure, we’d still watch.
It’s great that half the country won’t have to alter any of their evening plans in order to watch, something that doesn’t compute in New England, where the bleary-eyed, slow-moving individuals the morning after only go to further to coin this city of champions as one of little sleep as well.
Worth it? Please. It’s just that the transparent pandering to multimillion dollar corporations would be nice not to see every now and then. Then again, it would be pretty cool to live as a philanthropist on Fiji with a dozen or so Eliza Dushku look-alikes as housemates to help cover the cost of satellite TV and beer.
Unlikely? Dude, the Celtics are in the NBA Finals. Had I told you that on June 2, 2007, you’d react much the same dubious way.
So basically, June, 2009 is looking pretty sweet.

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