NBA lockout should increase appreciation of great sportswriting as well as the game

NBA lockout should increase appreciation of great sportswriting as well as the game

Any hopes of a 2011-12 NBA season are bordering on bleak. Very bleak.

You know the owners and players are far from an agreement when NBA Player Association president Billy Hunter is telling a group of lawyers and judges that he would wager on the lockout wiping out the entire season.

What’s made the thought of no basketball even more brutal after one of the most memorable seasons in years past has been the news coverage of players flirting with the thoughts of playing abroad.

It seems there is someone new every day considering playing for pay outside the States and it has become almost impossible to find good basketball stories anywhere not repeating one another, giving new appreciation to not only the game but the great writers who contribute their talents to it.

With the NBA Summer League being axed this year, there has been a bright side to all of this lockout madness as some of the NBA’s marquee names have ventured to various Pro-Ams and leagues as a way to not only get in a competitive run, but also to put on shows worthy of SportsCenter attention.

Kevin Durant has been at the forefront of the players taking their love of the game to renown leagues and venues and with good reason.

For the second year in a row, Durant has owned the summer headlines with continued on-court dominance, a game as smooth as Italian leather and a 6'10 frame that makes his combination of skills simply illegal.

His 66-point outburst at Harlem's famous Rucker Park drew even more attention to players who sought competition in these summer runs.

After Durant's performance, the person I thought was perfect to capture the essence of what the two-time NBA scoring champ has been doing, this summer, was Chicago’s own Scoop Jackson.

And so I was terrifically pleased to come across this column from Jackson titled The Kevin Durantapalooza Tour over the weekend.

The story not only helps validate how much the game of basketball means to the 22-year-old but with the very real possibility there will be no NBA season, it stresses the importance of summer to the game.

One of my favorite passages of Jackson's column about Durant's tour of basketball domination reads:

Lockout or not, Durant would be doing this. Collective bargaining agreement or not, contract or not, insured or not ... he'd be doing exactly this.

Showing up on public basketball courts all over the country, concrete or wood, taking on challengers, next-ups and haters, being in love with the game that happens to be his profession and showing how love of the game is supposed to look.

Jackson’s column was a breath of fresh air after weeks of reading the same story, just with a new player's name inserted into it. It made me not only think of how much I will miss the game if there is no season, but also imagine what the great sportswriters will do when there is no game to cover.

Kevin Durant has owned the summer basketball headlines for two summers running and it’s all because of his love of the game.

It’s that same love of the game that will leave him itching to play somewhere if this lockout extends to the beginning of the season.

That’s why it didn’t surprise me to see his name added to that list of players considering playing abroad.

If the lockout does put the 2011-12 season on ice and extends well into next summer, good sportswriting on NBA players like the one Jackson published might be few and far between, as I don't see too many publications paying the air fare of writers to foreign lands to keep track of the players who do decide to go overseas.

I encourage all fans to not only enjoy and cherish what NBA players like Durant and others are doing this summer, but also search out and enjoy the great coverage of what they’re doing by great writers.

Who knows if we’ll get to enjoy both collectively come fall?

Christopher Cason covers the Chicago Bulls for the Examiner.com and freelances for HOOP magazine and contributes to Slamonline.com. He will be providing a look into Chicago sports journalism every Wednesday at Eye on Chi. You can follow him on twitter @C4DUNK.

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