NBA trade deadline still provides entertainment for fans


By Imaz Athar / Staff Writer

Slam dunks and long shots brought Madison Square Garden to its feet over the weekend, but that is the last NBA action it will see until Thursday.

NBA All-Star festivities wrapped up on Sunday night, and it was a memorable event in New York City. NBA fans rejoiced while panicked New York Knicks fans briefly forgot about the misery that “Zen Master” Phil Jackson has put them through as the Mecca of basketball came to life this weekend.

Golden State Warriors sharpshooter Stephen Curry almost never missed in the 3-point contest, Minnesota Timberwolves rookie Zach LaVine made us question our existence with a series of superhuman dunks in the dunk contest and Russell Westbrook, point guard for the Oklahoma City Thunder, earned MVP honors in an entertaining All-Star game packed with highlight plays.

A weekend like this causes every NBA fanatic to crave even more basketball. But, thanks to commissioner Adam Silver, there won’t be another basketball game until Thursday. In years past, the All-Star break was shorter — many NBA games were played on the Tuesday after All-Star weekend. However, with the encouragement of high-profile NBA players who are required to spend more time participating in events rather than resting their bodies, Silver extended this year’s break.

I understand that this extended break is great for the players because it gives them a much-needed rest within a long 82-game season. But the selfish fan within me wants more basketball, sooner rather than later.

While I was initially upset that there wouldn’t be a game until Thursday, I was excited that the next couple of days could be more entertaining than an NBA game itself. 

Why? Because of the NBA trade deadline. 

Whether it was strategic or simply coincidental, this year’s trade deadline is on Thursday. This means that, although there isn’t an actual game until Thursday, the All-Star break will still be full of the crazy rumors and transactions that fans love to follow.

The rumor mill immediately began to turn after Sunday’s All-Star Game, as ESPN analyst Marc Stein talked about trade rumors involving star Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic on “SportsCenter.”

In recent years, rumors and transactions have become the bread and butter of the NBA. High profile players such as LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Deron Williams, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and James Harden have all been involved in major trades and signings since 2010.

Fans’ eyes are glued to Yahoo! reporter Adrian Wojnarowski’s Twitter feed as they await his latest “Wojbomb,” one of his breaking news tweets. In many ways, ESPN’s NBA trade machine has become what fantasy football is to the NFL — fans can become their favorite team’s general manager and devise their own often unrealistic, too-good-to-be-true hypothetical mega-trades that would change the landscape of the league. Even columnists participate in the fun, simulatingtrade machine transactions and coming up with lists of players on the trade block.

 The trade deadline has, in many ways, become more engaging than NBA games themselves because fans can take an active part in the experience, rather than passively watching an NBA game. What’s made the trade deadline even more appealing is the fact that crazy things actually tend to happen. Carmelo Anthony was actually traded to the Knicks, Dwight Howard was actually traded to the Los Angeles Lakers before signing with the Houston Rockets, and LeBron James actually did go back home to Cleveland Cavaliers. The most absurd rumors aren’t empty, and the fans’ dream scenarios are realistic.

I still find it troubling that many fans seem to be more invested in transactions than actual games. Some may argue that a large focus on transactions takes away from the purity of the sport, and fans’ infatuation with rumors just goes to show that the quality of regular season NBA games isn’t good enough to hold fans’ attention.

But transactions can pique fan interest in games — fans want to see star players play in new jerseys, they want to see how teams perform with new players and they want to argue over how well players fit in with their new teams.

The NBA was brilliant to set the deadline on Thursday — not only will fans remain invested in the league when games aren’t being played, but fans will be even more interested in watching players play with new teams after the All-Star break.

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