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April 2000


by Fine Diner

Net Gains

I have always been one of those types of guys who has trouble staying in one place for long. Whether as a child, a traveler or on the job, I was always on the move. There was always too much to do, too much to see… and I wanted to see and do it all.

Then came the Internet, and I found yet another way to stay on the move. The more I got on the net the more I found myself surfing, visiting and following links for one website after another. Like Robert Frost's traveler agonizing over the road not taken, I have wondered about the sites that I didn't get to see because time would not allow.

One of my all-time favorite websites, though, has got to be the official one for my favorite sport: basketball. As a hoopaholic, I have been addicted since "Havlicek stole the ball!" Now, I can proudly say that I am addicted to as well.

My favorite feature is the running game score they have on under-way games. So, while I have the Celtics on our local television here in the Boston suburbs, I can follow any other game I want as well. While great for rotisserie mavens, as well as anyone who can't get enough of basketball (me, and me again), it lets me toggle back and forth while working on my newspaper articles. The page, with play by play shown of every basket and the time scored, a game stat readout and the player who had just scored, updates every 60 seconds. Along with live games, the site gives final scores of that evening's games and previous boxes as well.

There is also a series of complete schedule pages, as well as broken down by team and date. The NBA's schedule page is internationally all-inclusive now, thanks to the advent of the Michael Jordan years and the influx of international players. The world-wide page gives times, dates and stations for NBA broadcasts from Angola to Zaire with everything in between, including even Ireland (where they probably still can't pronounce Boston Celtics).

One of the most enjoyable and informative activities on the site is the live chat. NBA players are scheduled on a regular basis to sit in online with any number of people, spending 30 minutes answering questions. I joined the chat with one of my favorite rookies, out of the University of Connecticut, Richard Hamilton of the Washington Wizards. At least one chatter asked about the Michael Jordan influence, and questions ranged from sublime (what is your home life like?) to technical (do you prefer a zone defense?).

Hamilton proved highly intelligent, well educated, and well mannered, which could make some wonder how long he can last in the NBA. But seriously, it was enjoyable. I even managed to get a question in, which is more than most sportswriters can say about Bobby Knight, unless the question is: "are you aiming that at me, sir?"

Keith: Mike, I like the way you play, which is a big reason that I got you on my fantasy team during the preseason draft. I just wondered if there is any particular player you might have idolized or patterned your style after?

Richard Hamilton: I really don't pattern my game around one individual. I think the one thing I try to do is that my game isn't ever going to be similar to one player. I try to take a little bit of everything. I try to take the aggressiveness of Reggie Miller, the way Allan Houston takes his jump shots off the dribble, George Gervin, the way he dominated without breaking a sweat, Magic Johnson with the passes, Michael Jordan with his competitiveness. So I try to take bits and pieces of everyone's game to add to mine.

The answer of a smart ball player. The site reveals upcoming NBA chatters and transcripts of previous chats. One may also send in and view answers to more technical questions offered by Doctor Jack Ramsey, former coach and analyst.

Another section I love is history, with everything from top all-time player lists to snippets from the greatest games, seasons and careers of all time. These include an audio feed of Boston's most popular Johnny Most broadcast moment, when he hoarsely screamed "Havlicek stole the ball! Havlicek stole the ball! It's all over!" at the end of the 1965 NBA finals. I wonder if I can petition the NBA to include the classic "McNasty and McFilthy" tirade?

I love viewing clips of big plays and moments. There is also a nightly play of the day video feed, a 10- to 15-second game-winning jumper, steal, or whatever, with accompanying vocal feeds. Anyway, this is a short piece on a more in-depth site requiring more analysis to do it justice. Naturally, non-hoopaholics might not care to check it out, but if other major league sports keep up, there ought to be a lot of interesting stuff to be found at the NHL, MLB and NFL sites. The way I can't stay in one place too long, don't be surprised to find I've beaten you to them.

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