I was full of envy watching the thousands of ecstatic fans at the Mall of Asia Arena who were watching a first in Philippine basketball—the pre-season game between the Houston Rockets and the Indiana Pacers.
Frankly, I did not give much thought to the idea of going to Manila—with all the floods and resultant traffic.
It was also my presumption that the game, being a non-bearing one, that the teams would just go through the motions of playing basketball.
It also happened at a time when a lot of commitments had to be fulfilled, so I did not really have the luxury of being able to fly to Manila, and watch the first ever NBA game here in our country.
Actually, the first surge of regret came after I realized that Larry Bird and Kevin McHale would be with the NBA contingent, as President and coach of the opposing teams.
Another person that I would have wanted to meet was Commissioner David Stern. He is my epitome of a sports mogul and would certainly be in the Hall of Fame, upon his retirement.
Those of us who were in the pre-Michael Jordan generation idolized the coolness of the Bird and the steadiness of McHale. They were true and compleat professionals too.
Then there was a smattering of other superstars.
Robert Horry, Clyde Drexler, and other former Houston greats came with the Rockets. Then there were those who were in the hard court. James Harden, Jeremy Lin, Dwight Howard, David West, just a few of the NBA rising stars who keep packing them in in their respective venues.
The Rocket and the Pacers, probably inspired by the enthusiasm of the Filipino fans, played their usual game, as if something was at stake, aside from bragging rights.
I have watched live NBA games, and I can attest to the level of intensity which was high for a pre-season game.
For some, it was probably the first time that they have watched an NBA game. I am sure that the good money that they paid for their tickets was well-spent.
David Stern promised that he will strongly recommend NBA management to make the pre-season game a regular event in the future.
The basketball world is standing up and is starting to notice the premier place that basketball occupies in Philippine society.
Some of the highly-recognizable faces went strolling in the mall and were greatly surprised by admiration, nay, adulation that they were accorded by the fans.
This kind of trivia will go far and wide, and more NBA teams would be more than willing to travel across the Pacific to be with us.
Let us enjoy the brand of basketball that NBA brings. At the same time, let us learn, as the rest of the world has learned, to make our own brand of basketball better.
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