Why I Love This Game…

I’ll admit, when I was a kid, me and my friends had dreams of becoming the first Filipinos in the NBA. Each day we played basketball at recess, after school, or in the playground, those were our Madison Square Garden, our Forum, our United Center. We lived out our dreams each time we played the bigger kids and dribble circles around them, broke their ankles, and drained 3-pointers all day everyday. And yes, we wanted to “be like Mike.”

As I’m writing this right now, I’m spending my Valentine’s Day (btw, this holiday is so overrated and commercialized) by watching NBA All-Star Saturday Night. Aside from the actual NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, this nite is one big party where the NBA’s best of the best get together and appreciates each other’s game. So as I’m watching the events play out in anticipation for the Slam Dunk Contest, I reminisce to those carefree days of playing ball as a kid, and I also think of how much the game has changed, some for the better, some for worse. In these days of top dollar contracts, multi-million dollar corporate endorsements, and $100 basketball shoes, I like looking back when none of that really mattered to the players. As a child of the 1980’s, players entered the NBA out of pure love and passion for the game. Their game proved them worthy of getting the top dollar contracts and endorsements.  These days, it’s hard to find players like that. What you see now are a bunch of players coming out of high school or only a year of college ball and given million-dollar contracts and endorsements BEFORE they even prove themselves in the NBA. Now you see a bunch of lazy players who could care less because they now have the money, endorsements, mansions, and Lincoln Navigators with 22-inch spinning rims to drive home to after each game.

But in the midst of all that distraction, I find solace in the few players who still play out of pure passion and love for the game, and their top dollar endorsements come second. Kobe, Lebron, Wade, Carmelo, Kidd, Nowitski, Nash, Monta, Baron, Dwight, Amare, Brandon Roy, CP3, D-Fish, Shaq, Rasheed, Marion, VC, Durant, Duncan, Parker, Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Billups, and…to some extent, Iverson. To you I say…THANK YOU for your true passion for the game and not letting the distractions of money and endorsements dictate your game.

The players who paved the way for today’s generation…the Trinity (Magic, Bird, Jordan), the original Dream Team, the Showtime Lakers, the Bulls Dynasty, Sonic Boom, Run TMC, Dominique, Strickland, Hakeem, The Admiral, Malone & Stockton, …I grew up idolizing and emulating on the basketball court, who played with passion and heart BEFORE they were even given top dollar endorsements. It was watching them play that gave me inspiration and uplift through some of the rough times of my childhood.

I’m a history buff, so in order to appreciate the present, we must look back and honor the past. This is why…I Love This Game.

“In a time of overwhelming hype in sports, there was something moving about how simple it was, and how authentic it felt.”

And to today’s generation, learn from the legendary.

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