I've written a lot about the National Hockey League over the last few weeks and how I'm enjoying watching hockey teams I hadn't seen all season (New Jersey Devils vs. Florida Panthers). But there's another set of playoffs going on.
I'll admit that ever since the Pistons got bad, I haven't followed the NBA much. But it's competition and I like competition, so I gave the NBA one night to impress me. The show: L.A. Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies, Game 5.
Now that Central Michigan alum Chris Kaman has been traded from L.A., I have no connection to either side. I just want to be entertained. March Madness does it. Why can't May Madness?
9:38 p.m.: While switching from the first game of the doubleheader (Miami over New York), Kevin Harlan says, "And now to Memphis with Hall of Fame broadcaster Dick Stockton!"
This almost became another Olympics column. Seven years ago, I heard Stockton refer to the lefthanded former Packers and Jaguars quarterback as "Scott Brunell" for an entire series. I don't think he's gotten better.
9:44: And the color commentator is Chris Webber! Really, the only way they could dredge up more bad memories is to stage this game in the Metrodome. Though I wonder, five years from now, will the NCAA mandate that Webber's work be vacated from this broadcast too?
10:04: Grizzlies go on 12-0 run to take early advantage. They're down 3-1 in the series and playing at home, this was probably a matter of when, not if. They're a legitimate playoff team now, which is mind-boggling since they had eight losing seasons and a relocation (from Vancouver) in their first eight years.
10:15: 36-22 Grizzlies after one. Michigan State alum Zach Randolph is 6-for-6 from the field for 15 first-quarter points. Some stories are easier to write than others.
10:36: Memphis's Quincy Pondexter is checked into his bench by LA's Eric Bledsoe in what looked more like an accidental collision than a hissy fit. Bledsoe gets a technical after flipping the ball into the air and a lecture on composure from Chris Webber, who never complained to referees during his basketball career (Career NBA technicals: 85).
10:53. It's 57-42 at the half. Not over, but not close. Then again, the Clips trailed by 27 and won Game 1 in Memphis.
11:00: Halftime show! Charles Barkley on LA's DeAndre Jordan - "If you left him alone in the gym all night and told him he couldn't dunk, he'd have six points in the morning." This quote alone makes this project worth it.
11:18: Blake Griffin steals it, throws it to Chris Paul in transition to draw away the defender, who throws it right back to him for an uncontested dunk. Awesome stuff, but the Clips are still down 15.
11:23: "A 19-point lead, and it's the biggest of the game for the Grizzlies. And the way they're playing and the way the Clippers are playing does not give you an indication a huge comeback is in store at this point." Way to sell the thrilling conclusion, Dick.
11:35: Chris Paul is teched up. Randolph, an expert on composure, can be seen pointing to the ref and saying "Kick him out." Caron Butler is also teched up. The Clippers are now down by 22. "I don't know if it's a good strategy, but it seems to be ... a strategy."
11:40: Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro and player Mo Williams also teched up. It's like Oprah: "You get a technical! You get a technical!"
11:49: Collision under the basket and Blake Griffin is holding his knee. Yikes.
11:55: Griffin's back and so are the Clippers, now just down 12 at the end of the third quarter. So much for calling it a night and turning the TV off.
12:07: It's an eight-point game with 8:30 to go. Randolph and Marc Gasol have no second-half field goals. Are they aware it's an elimination game?
12:19: Under two to go, it's still an eight point game and neither team is shooting better than 33 percent in the fourth quarter.
12:23: Paul sits with a groin problem with two minutes to go. Think about that, hockey players. Memphis runs the lead to nine and I'm putting on my PJs.
12:29: Bringing the ball up with 12 seconds to go down 10, Mo Williams trips over his own feet and falls on his face. Sums up the evening for the visitors.
12:35: There's the final, 92-80 Memphis. I didn't exactly get dealt a great hand here, considering the margin was in double digits for more than half the night. However, there were no glaring gaffes in the broadcast (in fact, Webber is actually pretty decent at rationally describing the play around him if somewhat monotone) and the game tightened up a little at the end. It's not NHL playoff overtime, but it's not unwatchable. Note: the last two minutes took barely 10 to play and that's because the officials were reviewing a foul call.
I managed to resist the temptation to check on the Tiger game until the second half, which is pretty good considering this was probably a C-minus on the excitement scale at best.
That's the one question I was trying to ask: why is the NCAA Tournament appointment TV and the NBA playoffs so derided? Probably because until Game 7, both sides still could be playing again, like these teams will in Game 6 on Friday.
If this had been Game 7, maybe Paul plays to the end, and maybe I'd watch without having an assignment.
Brandon Veale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/redveale.