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What would Red have said about hoopla? ...

I was watching what I thought was a Broadway play the other day when suddenly an NBA basketball game broke out, leaving me dazed and bewildered, or at least more dazed and bewildered than I typically am while watching television.

I refer, of course, to the boisterous theatrics that precede the various NBA Playoff games these days. Oh, I understand that this is hardly a new phenomenon; the NBA has been doing this kind of thing for a long time, but that very passage of time is just the ticket in turning something mildly unctuous into grating, self-indulgent parody.

That’s because the club officials charged with orchestrating such things (arguably the perfect verb in this instance) end up feeling great pressure to make the splash bigger and better every year. Mix that in with the natural tendency to want to outdo your competitors in the pregame hoopla frenzy and you have the ingredients for some decidedly unbasketball-like musings. It's that unbasketball-like quality that got me wondering what Hall of Fame coach Red Auerbach (shown in a Gave Perillo painting) might have thought about all the fuss prior to tip-off.

If you think I’m overstating it or once again playing the role of the grumpy old man, consider the goofy spectacle that the Super Bowl has become, an event that manages to succeed in spite of its by now colossal foolishness and excess.

And as I noted above, I fully understand that this particular brand of goofiness is not new: I can remember being in a luxury skybox at the United Center during Michael Jordan’s heyday in Chicago and being struck by the disco-mania lighting and pro wrestling style pronouncements from the MC as “Your Chicago Bulls” charged onto the court. Fortunately for me, I was too distracted by the free weenies and cold-cuts on the buffet table to pay much attention to the sideshow hundreds of feet below.

I just worry that this kind of thing is going to spread to baseball one day. All that smoke might kill the grass.