NBA: Just not the same

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By Josh Veatch


Over the past few weeks, many of you have may have been tuning in to the NBA playoff games. I watch these games too. I sit in front of my television during these games and see professional basketball players play the game that they love.
I constantly have a pestering thought running through my mind as each minute of the action unfolds. I wonder if the millions of dollars dangling in front of these players cause them to perform any differently than they would if the money were not there.  
I know what you’re thinking. If I could play a game that I love, and someone would pay me millions of dollars to do it, I’d be a fool not too. I agree with that. But, there seems to be a different feel in the air when the NBA playoffs role around. Different than when the NCAA tournament starts up in March.  
The NBA and NCAA are similar on some levels, but couldn’t be more different on others. Both organizations play basketball and both have athletes that are enjoy their sport. However, in the NCAA the “kids” play for different reasons than “men” do in the NBA. I know you’ve heard the saying, “In the NCAA, you play for the name on the front of your jersey, and in the NBA you play for the name on the back.”  
The more you think about this, the more true it seems to be. How many of us have a NCAA team that we would do anything for and almost come to blows over?  Myself, I bleed blue and am proud to support the University of Kentucky. I know lots of people feel the same way about a variety of universities across the United States.
The passion that exists for our NCAA teams runs deep, and the level of attention that we give NBA teams is a bit less dramatic.  
Let’s face the facts. There are a lot of NCAA student/athletes that never have a chance of going to the NBA.
Does that stop them from putting everything they have into their time on the court?
Absolutely not!
This fact just makes them play harder and with more heart during their collegiate careers. In turn, the type of basketball that these players present is more enjoyable for fans to watch, at least in my opinion.  
Webster defines passion as “a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity.” Many students attend universities that their parents attended and feel very passionately about it.
When you search Google for NCAA passion, you get overwhelmed with results referring to individuals or teams that have a true and sincere love for their sport and team.
I am sure that NBA players are also passionate about the game as well, but probably for different reasons.
Very seldom will you ever hear the word passionate used when referring to anything related to the NBA by sports broadcasters. Money makes all the difference.  The professional basketball players have reached the pinnacle of their career, in their eyes, and seem to only want to go through the motions at times.
I would bet that a large portion of us have shirts hanging in our closets branded with logos of our favorite NCAA team. These shirts have only the team logo on them, and do not carry a particular player’s name, at least mine don’t.  
When is the last time you saw a NBA team shirt that did not carry a player’s name?
The NBA has become a more individualized sport, than a team sport.  Personally, I enjoy watching NCAA basketball games because of this fact. The camaraderie and teamwork that is presented by a team during a NCAA game is something that cannot be duplicated.
When March rolls around, I cannot wait to watch as many NCAA tournament games as possible.
I just don’t have the same feeling when the NBA playoff starts. I will watch any basketball game, but find myself more involved in NCAA action due to the fact that money is not supposed to be the driving force.