I first started watching basketball in college. Sure, I did not understand all the rules, or even some of the rules, but watching these tall lean muscular warriors make magic on the hardwood was special. The way they moved, the way they battled under the basket, the way they magically passed the ball to someone without looking their way. Once I started learning the rules I used to record the games and watch them again to appreciate aspects that moved too fast for me in real time. One thing I did even back then. Mute the volume. The announcers are even more biased and more ignorant for college games than they are for NBA games.
The one problem with modern fandom is that it takes a lot of the magic away. At times we are like parents in little league, just looking at what our adopted children do. Worse, we get caught up with the media hype and the soap opera aspects of the players instead of the game itself. IMO the NBA is partially responsible for this by emphasizing stars and their stories instead of the teams and the game itself, but that is another discussion for another day.
This postseason in particular there is a lot to like. The Spurs are playing absolutely beautiful ball; they are even more precise and disciplined than usual and are peaking at the perfect time. Curry's shooting was a joy to watch, Marc Gasol's passion, defense and passing was great even in a losing effort. On the other side of the country the Pacers are much better and more fun to watch than I expected them to be (yes, I was completely wrong about them earlier in the year). Yes, the way that ESPN and the rest of the media slobber all over LeBron James is off-putting, but he is still a special athlete. Put aside your hate for a little while and watch what a great individual player he is. Unlike many stars with outsized fame and fortune he does not just focus on scoring; LeBron actually passes the ball and pays attention to defense. .
Of course, I am not saying to be impartial or subdued about it. Our biases are what make the game an emotional experience to look forward to and to relish. Go ahead and cheer the brilliance of Gregg Popovich, the eternal poetry of Tim Duncan's fundamental play, the wild and glorious flair of Manu Ginobili, the constant evolution of our dashing and slashing Tony Parker. But also enjoy the game of basketball. The game itself, not the crap surrounding it.
Once in a while try this: shut the sound off while watching. We don't watch movies or read books with a running and often unrelated commentary from people we don't agree with, why do it for basketball? The announcers' mindless chatter only aggravates and distracts us or subconsciously forces our eyes only where they want us to look.
Skip the halftime show. Tune out Simmons, Barry, even Van Gundy. Just focus on the game and really enjoy it for what it is and appreciate all the movement and teamwork on both sides of the ball.
Then instead of reading yet another twenty articles that rehash the same incorrect talking points go out and appreciate the day as well.