The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

    COLUMN: Sights, sounds, Shaq’s attitude makes basketball pleasant experience

    A bunch of sweaty, smelly guys running around shooting a ball into a hoop never really appealed to me much. But that was before attending my first NBA game last week.

    The likes of Wally Sczcerbiak and Kevin Garnett probably helped ease me into my enjoyment of the game. I really didn’t have a problem watching their sweaty, muscular bodies race up and down the court.

    I attended my fair share of basketball games in high school and I was not impressed. But somehow those games didn’t have the same effect on me as the Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers game last week.

    Most of it can be attributed to the step up from a skinny freshman I shared a beaker with in biology to the handsome, talented men shooting three-pointers every few seconds on the court in front of me.

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    I obviously knew the skill level would be different, but other than that I didn’t give the game much thought.

    I have passed over basketball games innumerable times while flipping through channels and didn’t think I was in for much else. Needless to say, I was mistaken.

    The whole atmosphere in itself was an experience.

    The Target Center was packed, there were cheerleaders every which way, and the larger-than-life players were so close I could see the whites of their eyes.

    The cheerleaders and the halftime show would have been enough for me to go see.

    “The Blue Man Group” performed at halftime and several squads of cheerleaders and dance teams boosted the crowd’s enthusiasm. But nothing beat hearing the vending guys yell, “Cold beer.”

    Being at the game in person was a thousand times better than watching it on television. I even had my own personal announcer know-it-all sitting behind me to make the game that much more enjoyable.

    I even enjoyed the standers in the front row who made everyone behind them (including me in the second row) stand unnecessarily. But all that comes with going to a game where the fans have a lot of energy.

    The rest of the crowd had obviously been to one of these games before. They knew when to cheer and when to boo, something I had to learn the hard way. For example, when Shaquille O’Neal began missing free-throws, people would cheer. I felt bad for him.

    Big mistake.

    Three minutes and a flaring temper later, I got the picture and no longer felt bad for the big ogre. Even my mom knew better than I did and kindly explained to me that his feelings wouldn’t be hurt if I jeered him a little bit too.

    I had no problem trying to make him feel bad once he started stomping and storming around like a 5-year-old. He was acting like a complete baby, with the exception of his enormous body commanding the court.

    It really started to piss me off when all the little guys out there were getting thrown to the floor or shoved to the side, but big bad-ass Shaq was getting all the fouls called in his favor.

    I’m convinced the only reason the refs were calling favoritism was for fear of their lives. Like anyone could really push his massive self – his big body was just in the way of the other players.

    I shake my head in disgust at feeling sorry for the oaf. He was being a poor sport and just an overall pain in the butt.

    By the end of the game I too was an all-knowing fan, who could boo as loud as the rest of them.

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    COLUMN: Sights, sounds, Shaq’s attitude makes basketball pleasant experience