We aren't called the lucky country for nothing and when it comes to being an NBA fan the situation in Australia couldn't be better. Here are some reasons why...[caption id="attachment_10285" align="aligncenter" width="620"] Joshua Lott/Getty Images[/caption]
#1 - Time ZonePicture this: Your an American (bear with me) and you want to watch your favourite team on TV after a hard day at work. All of a sudden the wife/girlfriend walks in and announces her parents are coming over for dinner and the game will "have to wait". The snacks, beer and comfortable spot on the couch are now wasted because the game happens to be on during socialising hours. It also allows us to live out our NBA fantasies at night on the court playing in social leagues without missing an important game. Now depending on where you live in Australia, the NBA starts at a decent hour in the morning (7am on the West Coast and 9am on the East Coast). If you have a liberal employer with access to high speed internet this means 5-6 hours of NBA action every weekday. If you aren't so lucky then you can always resort to the NBA League Pass on your phone/tablet or watching the highlights/favourite game during your lunch break. The weekends bring a whole different kind of pleasure when you can wake up while the girlfriend/wife is still sleeping and flip open the laptop to enjoy some NBA with bacon and eggs. If kids are involved you can plonk them down in front of Saturday Disney or spend some quality time bonding over the greatest game in the world (and potentially grooming a future Andrew Bogut). There are so many reasons why watching the NBA in the morning is great but I'm going to try and keep this one short.
#2 - Full Coverage of Your Favourite TeamImagine if you lived in Melbourne and supported Collingwood in the AFL (again bear with me) but you were unable to watch any Collingwood games on the expensive (and hypothetical) AFL League Pass you just bought. Well in the US of A if you want to watch your local team play but it appears on an expensive cable network, free to air or is a nationally televised game (most likely on cable) then the NBA forbids you from watching it on your league pass. Don't think that it just applies to live games either as the NBA will block all archived games that are televised in your local area too. We have no such problems in Australia as we have access to every game on demand for all 30 teams and the All Star Weekend with the NBA League Pass.
#3 - A Different Breed of FansSport brings out the best and the worst in people and this can be seen best in the fan base of a particular code/team. Soccer fans are well known for their sometimes overenthusiastic (read violent) behaviour while Lawn Bowls fans are best known for their quiet but appreciative support. Fan culture is so deeply rooted in the community for most sports in Australia that it becomes hard for fans to appreciate anything but their own side and they tend to be very biased. The geographical dynamic of not having grown up in the fan culture of a particular local team makes it easier for people to find their own way. New NBA fans tend to follow a team based on their favourite player or who introduced them to the sport (i.e maybe their first viewing experience). As they get more involved and increase their exposure to the sport they might change teams or follow their favourite player to a new team. Players can be traded in an instant without notice and teams can have their core ripped out in seconds so the team can grab a superstar. The sport is a business and most fans understand that (Cleveland jersey burning aside). My experience with those that follow the NBA in Australia is that the average fan will follow a couple of teams (one in each conference) and have informed opinions on most subjects, even if their teams aren't involved. You still get the occasional Lakers fan who can't see past his Kobe jersey but the overall fan is more willing to appreciate every player/team in the league.
#4 - Following The Aussie PlayersWhen it comes to NBA talent, Australia had been lacking compared to other countries, which makes it hard to genuinely follow a player. In recent times we have had a #1 draft pick in Andrew Bogut and an exciting young Point Guard emerge in Patty Mills. No longer will we have to scour the box scores to find out if Player A got 2 minutes in junk time as we have a legit superstar we can watch for 36 minutes + a game. I'm sure it won't be long before Mills starts seeing worthy minutes and Matthew Dellavedova will be getting his chance coming out of college soon. With Australia punching above its weight in the recent Olympics I'm sure the NBA scouts will be paying more attention to the ballers from Down Under in the future.
#5 - Boxing DayDue to the time difference the Christmas Day games in the US translate to Boxing Day games in Australia. Given 99% of people will be busy enjoying themselves with presents, food and family on Christmas Day, no one wants to miss the blockbuster games. Thanks to the time difference you can sit back on the couch with your new iPad, laptop or TV that you got the day before and settle in for hours of NBA entertainment. This season we have Boston @ Brooklyn, Knicks @ Lakers, Thunder @ Heat, Rockets @ Bulls and Nuggets @ Clippers to look forward to on Boxing Day when the cricket gets a bit boring. That is an epic lineup of games for just one day!
#6 - Holidays are More SpecialIf you are lucky enough to get an opportunity to travel to the US during the NBA season I highly recommend going to a couple of NBA games while you are there. While the NBL provides some good entertainment, nothing compares to the experience of an NBA game in the US. The arenas are bigger, better equipped and they understand the value of the fans. Even in the nose bleed sections you get a great view of the event and will walk away with an experience you won't forget. If you can make it to a game in your lifetime you won't regret the decision.
What are some reasons you love being an NBA fan in Australia? Post a comment below with your thoughts.