>Things Have Changed

by jvaragona

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“People are crazy and times are strange
I’m locked in tight, I’m out of range
I used to care, but things have changed.”

–Bob Dylan, Things Have Changed

Bobby is right, times are strange. And it’s odd how I can gauge that. Last night, the annual draft for the NBA occured. That is when the general managers and other head honcho’s for the 30 teams in the National Basketball Association get together to pick players from college teams and other international organizations to better their own teams.

For some reason, even though I am not always the biggest fan of watching basketball on TV, I get a great kick out of the business of it. That goes for a lot of sports. In fact, when I play the video game versions, I spend more time on the business aspect of thins than playing the actual games.

I began watching the NBA draft in 1992, for 2 primary reasons–Shaquille O’neal and Anthony Peeler. Shaquille was touted as an animal athelete. He was 7 feet and 1 inch tall and around 300 pounds of man. The Orlando Magic drafted him with the first pick, which they earned through a lottery of the worst teams. He was to be their savior. Shaq did take them to the NBA Finals during the 1995-96 season, but left them in the following offseason for the L.A. Lakers.

During that 1992 NBA Draft, the Lakers selected Anthony Peeler with the 15th pick. Peeler was from the University of Missouri, and the first big pick from my area since Anthony Bonner went to the Sacramento Kings as the 23rd pick in the 1990 Draft. It was exciting since this type of thing didn’t happen often. Peeler’s career hasn’t amounted to much, except for him being a solid player to have off the bench. He did lead the league in three point field goal percentage during the 2003-04 season with the Washington Wizards.

We know where Shaq’s career has gone. He just nabbed his 4th NBA title ring with the Miami Heat, the team he left the Lakers for in 2004 after some public feuding with Kobe Bryant.

Since that amazing draft in 1992 that reeled me into the drama of the business of sports, professional basketball in particular, I have watched it every year, at least the first round, since. Keep in mind, I am not the jocky, sporty type of guy. I fit into a more dorky, nerdy mold, if any.

During my high school years, this annual observance involved my good friend, Picklehead, who shared the same passion as I did. We even incorporated the video games, by creating many of the drafted players and trying them out on their new teams. After I graduated, I still watched, but with less enthusiastic parties, that laughed at me for my enjoyment of the business and not the sport itself.

It still was a ritual for me that lasted until this year. It wasn’t because the prospects for the draft weren’t as good, which they weren’t. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anyone to share my love for it with, which I haven’t in a while. My wife thinks it is silly, as much as some of my previous friends have.

Things have changed though.

I have moved out of my parents’ place, becoming more independent, but with that, poorer and without cable. Now I am married and currently jobless.

I did have the internet to keep up to date on the happenings of the Draft, but it wasn’t the same. Seeing names appearing on my screen wasn’t like watching it all unfold with predictions from commentators and interviews with the draftees, who are now all younger than me, and once their name is announced, much richer than I will ever be.

That’s how this country works though. In a way, it is still a beautiful thing. Within seconds, one can become a millionaire, based on athletic prowess, or some other talent, which probably doesn’t deserve a pile of money. We pay to see their show for us, though, whether it be professional basketball or some rock star playing a guitar on a stage of pyrotechnics, because it’s an escape from the nonsense of our daily lives. We can’t bash them for that, because we fund their lives.

I think I’ll go shoot some hoops now…shit…can’t, I have a job interview.

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