Bernstein: NBA Is No NFL

By Dan Bernstein- Senior Columnist

(CBS) The NFL has turned us all into crackheads.

We have to have it, and can’t live without it. When we get it, we binge on it until it’s gone, and then we start looking for it again.

When it seemed for a time like we may go without it, we didn’t know what to do, since nothing replaces it.

As reporters massed in Manhattan lobbies to chase every last detail of the contentious labor negotiations, some hardcore addicts stared blankly at reruns on NFL Network or watched the strange scamper of CFL games – whichever video methadone that might take the edge off, dulling the ache enough to get through the day.

Then it was all back, and this new stuff that’s hit the streets is something else. It seems more concentrated, due to the manic free-agency period and rush into training camp. The high is higher, everybody’s doing it, and there’s plenty to go around.

Check this out: this was the most-viewed opening weekend in NFL history, with an average (!) of 19 million viewers per game, good for an 11.4 rating. The total number of viewers — 107,400,000 – topped the previous record set…last year. And it was five million more than 2009.

Instead of flopping on fetid mattresses in the dank basement of that boarded-up house on the corner, we’re lounging on our comfy couches, faces smeared with wing sauce, eyes sucking up every last photon radiating from our HD plasmas.

So it’s interesting to observe what’s happening in New York, now, as the NBA and its players’ union wage a similar battle that threatens to deprive us of games.

To begin with, not as many people care. That’s clear from the difference in both the volume and tone of the reporting. NFL talks were clear-the-decks news on national highlight shows, with hired-gun legal experts all over the airwaves to interpret every move, providing the closest thing to football they could – analysis of talking about the business of football.

Owners’ private planes were spotted and tracked more than those of any rock star or visiting dignitary, just so more guesses could be made about the progress of discussions. Twitter timelines crackled with rumors.

Nothing like that is happening as David Stern talks with Billy Hunter and the NBAPA. That is due in part to fewer leaks and better control of message by both parties, but the media have less incentive to dig as deeply or as intensely, since the audience isn’t hanging on every word the same way as it did when its precious drug was in jeopardy.

Stern has chosen a hard-line path at the bargaining table, working on behalf of the poorer teams to break the union, even as the healthy franchises in big cites would likely be amenable to compromise. The union may indeed collapse, with Hunter’s position particularly tenuous. So there is drama.

There just isn’t as much fear over confronting a world without the NBA for a year.

I’m as big a pro basketball fan as there is, but what’s true is true, even after the last, spectacularly-successful season. When push comes to shove, there is only one sport anymore that America actually needs.

Think about those TV numbers, again. 107 million. More than a third of the entire population of the United States watched the NFL last weekend.

That’s the hard stuff. The NBA is closer to coffee.

bernstein 90x130 Bernstein: NBA Is No NFL

Dan Bernstein

Dan Bernstein has been the co-host of “Boers and Bernstein” since 1999. He joined the station as a reporter/anchor in 1995. The Boers and Bernstein Show airs every weekday from 1PM to 6PM on The Score, 670AM. Read more of Bernstein’s columns here. Follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.
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  • Larry Horse's Arse

    I think the NBA is out until 1/1/12 at least.

    • Dan Rakow

      I agree with You Larry.

    • Denver Deadite

      I’ll be perfectly happy if the NBA never returns. I just can’t get into basketball any more, whether it’s college or pros.

  • Gentleman RaRa

    I’m one of the rare people in the city who love the NBA and doesn’t care about the NFL, so it breaks my sports heart that there probably won’t be an NBA season. Of course, being a Bulls fan, a lockout hurts me more now than it would in, say, 2008, when there was no hope for the franchise. Last season was so damn fun, it’s like this lockout is one giant buzzkill.

    For now, I’m keeping my fingers crossed, because that’s all I can do.

  • Lil' Bycracke

    Darn, I thought Bernsie was going to take this to the next level. I thought the crack was going to come from Derrick Rose’s older brother, who D-Rose will be running errands for during the NBA lockout.

    I can see the headline now, “Free picture with D-Rose and MVP trophy with the purchase of 3 oz of crack or more!”

    It will sell like hotcakes!

    • Steve Frederick


  • Bronzo

    Thank you Dan for telling it like it is.. I fall into that demographic that craves NFL and thinks the NBA is a distant 3rd or 4th behind MLB and sometimes the NHL..

    I ‘m with LHA the NBA is out until 1/1/12 at the earliest..

    Loved the crack / drug reference…great analogy.

  • Steve Frederick

    I am a big fan of the NBA but the NFL has peaked my sports fix big time. It’s just fun right now. The NBA is Miami Heat and everyone else. Who wants to watch the Bobcats or Timberwolves.


    NBC Sports, which will carry Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis this February, has already scored 2 of the top TV shows this week with the Saints/Packers’ shootout on Opening Night last Thursday and the Cowboys/Jets’ “Sunday Night Football” game where New York scored the final 17 points to win a thriller on an already emotional 9/11. Something tells me “SNF” will have another doozy when Michael Vick returns to Atlanta, this time as an Eagle vs. Matt Ryan and a Falcons’ team that some had going to Indianapolis to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl this year. Make no mistake about it, regardless if it’s NBC, FOX Sports, CBS Sports or even the four-letter all-sports network, the return of NFL Football has sports fans glued in. NFL is king, lockout or no lockout.


    The NFL could’ve been more perfect, if they had said
    “We’re not going to let Jacksonville, Carolina, Cleveland, or Tennessee unlock their doors.”
    And, a lot of NFL story lines are nauseating. Jay Cutler’s body language. Blue Collar. Captain Caveman. “The Genius.” Get it out of here.
    Anything that has ever had to do with the San DIego Chargers or the boo yas.
    Athlete twitter accounts.
    Until last Sunday, I was missing the lock out.

    Dedicated to White Sox fandome. In pace requiescat

    • Jackie Treehorn


  • Denver Deadite

    Meatballs are indeed everywhere:

    Broncos fans planning to buy pro-Tebow billboards

  • Larry Horse's Arse

    What is it with meatballs and billboards?

    • Denver Deadite

      No idea, but they’re just as hilarious in their attempts here as they are in Chicago. :)

  • teach

    pass me that crack pipe!

  • meesohawnee

    that just means there are 107 million sheep that can be manipulated into being told whats important. its a great distraction just like texting on your Iphone. Americans need mind numbing activities like the NFL and Iphones. How else do TPTB get away with bufu (n) them everyday and not knowing it. Its nothing to celebrate. Its sad but you gotta give the NFL credit. its sure knows how to market itself.

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