Friday, May 30, 2008

Watching the NBA in Ireland

Got asked over email if I had any interest in the Celtics playoff run. Absolutely, is the short answer to that. I don't post about it too much as I don't want to appear bandwagon-ish. Having said that, I wouldn't feel too bad if I did, as I have actually been to the Fleet Center a couple of times, sadly never the Old Boston Garden, which would have been tremendous. I spent several summers in the States working on the Cape when I was in college however the NBA season was generally over by the time I got there.

Big night ahead for Paul Pierce and the lads

Following the NBA from Ireland is almost impossible right now, which is a crying shame as basketball is a very popular sport here. It is played in every corner of Ireland and is very popular in Cork, Dublin and up North. There is a thriving league with several divisions, both men's and women's. It gets frequent and in depth media coverage, and is easily the biggest American sport player in Ireland. Football and baseball are small change compared to Basketball.

All that and you still can't watch the games on TV. The US sports station that shows baseball doesn't show the NBA and Sky Sports, which shows football, doesn't show the NBA either. Total blackout basically.

Thus, one is reduced to catching highlights on and, in the case of really big games, watching the espn 'gamecast', kind of a animated, running box score, complete with player pen pictures and animations of a ball going up in an arc and either hitting the rim or swishing through the basket, depending on the last shot taken.

Yes, I have watched whole games like that. I know, terrible.

You get an odd sense of satisfaction when you see a Celtics opponent take a 'shot' only for the 'ball' to clang off the 'ring'. The animation is set that in the case of a miss the ball bounces a mile high. No such thing as a close miss in virtual basketball I guess.

There are off course draw backs with watching an entire NBA game on gamecast

Some aspects of the game aren't represented very well on gamecast, for example, emotion!

The major snag well, apart from not actually being able to see the action, is if there is a pause in play you often don't know what's going on. When Rajon Rondo was callously clotheslined by the cheap shot Hawks player in round one, I thought initially my laptop had frozen it took so long for an update to come through.

Another interesting drawback is you don't really get a read on how valuable a player is, or indeed isn't.

Clang. Clang. Clang. It's Le Bron shooting, as shown on gamecast

Obviously Le Bron James is a wonderful talent. However, if you watch the entire Celtics v Cavs series on gamecast, you would have thought to yourself, 'wow, that Le Bron James chap throws up an awful lot of bricks'.

Alternatives? Limited. There is the WAP option on ones cell phone. Watching a basketball game on WAP is an odd experience, and yes, been there, done that.

So while you sit on your sofa in the States, swigging a cold beer watching the big game six tonight between Detroit and Boston, spare a thought for the NBA, Celtics and Pistons fans in Ireland, as we huddle over our latops and computers at 2am tonight watching the little animated balls swish on in or clang off the ring.

Thank goodness gracious for MLB TV, that's all I will say.



David Gallagher said...

I couldn't agree with you more - i think Channel 5 have the UK and Ireland rights at the moment but they're not doing anything about it! Maybe if there's a Lakers v Celtics final that will stir up some interest again. Here's hoping anyway!

Kevin Shiels said...

Setanta showed the major 2009 NBA play-off games including the finals. Only problem for us now is the time difference

CC's Spot said...

Any progress with NBA broadcast since this was first published?

Irish National baseball team

Irish National baseball team
Team Ireland at the European Championships, Croatia, 2000.

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