I got a revelation. I've been an NBA fan forever. I don't talk about it much on channel five, simply because I don't think there are a lot of viewers, listeners, who share my love for that game at that level. Not around here. Veteran fans maybe, fans over 50. You'd have to be that old to remember the last time Cincinnati played host to an NBA game that counted. When the Royals packed up and left for Kansas City, the NBA was a different game. This was before Mike, Before Bird, before Magic. In a lot of ways, it was a better game. Because both teams played hard for 48 minutes. Sure there were clear outs and players took plays off. That's been going on since before James Naismith got his medical degree. It was a slower game, a more brutal game. Didn't matter if you played guard or center, you were beaten up on just about every play. I loved that game. I like the NBA now. But I loved it back in the 60's and 70's Willis Reed was my guy, Dick Barnett and the Pearl too. I wanted to dress like Clyde Frazier. I hated Red Auerbach, until I met him right before his death when i was working in Washington DC and his office was right around the corner from my television station. I spent three hours in his office one afternoon talking basketball. He laid out every strength and weakness of every player I told him I admired as a kid, growing up. That memory won't be leaving me anytime soon. For some reason I found myself rooting for a guy named Bingo Smith and Bob McAdoo. But none of them were as good as Oscar. Mike wasn't as good as Oscar. The only thing that Mike had that Oscar didn't have was his games on TV every night. Oscar didn't get on TV much, until late in his career. If Oscars games were on TV everynight, there would be no debate at to whom was better. Mike was great, Oscar was better. You say that enough now and they call you a grumpy old man. But it's true. Even when he didnt have the ball, you had to watch Oscar. I often think had the Royals survived, had Bob Cousy not been sent here to be a hachet man for the guys who owned the team, the Jacobs Brothers...and what else would you call someone who trades Jerry Lucas one year and Oscar the next....I often think Cincinnati could have been a great NBA town. Think of the rivalries with Cleveland and Indianapolis. If somehow, the team could have survived another eight years until Magic and Bird arrived, I think it would have flourished. The conventional wisdom is that this isn't a big enough area to support three sports franchises. And, there's a lot of truth to that. Cincinnati, at the time the Royals moved, was something like the 20th television market. It's 35th now. No television markets our size have three major professional sports franchises. Pittsburgh would be the closest in size, eleven markets bigger. Milwaukee lays claim to the Packers, but they only are home to the Brewers and Bucks. And there's market dollars, or lack there of, to consider. Major industry like GM and Cincinnati Milacron are no more. Ask the Bengals and Reds how tough it is to sell luxury boxes. Major League Baseball is a bargain compared to the NBA these days. You might be able to find a ten dollar ticket for an NBA game on a promotion night in some outpost like Sacramento. But in LA, the Lakers have tickets that top out at $2,700 a seat. Now times that by 40 and you've about got the cost of a starter home. Certainly the top ticket here wouldn't be that high. But in a league with a salary cap and an average salary of over $5 million a year, tickets would certainly be higher than for the Reds, where baseball's average salary is $3.3 million and the Bengals which is approximatley $2 million. And, you'd have fewer seats to sell than the Reds or Bengals, which would automatically mean higher ticket prices. As much as David Stern hates to admit it, the NBA is a regional game, not a national game, not in the sense of the NFL. If you don't live in an NBA market, it's tough to follow. When I was in DC we had the Wizards. I loved covering that team, even though it was the dregs of basketball. The paper carried extensive coverage. There was a local cable sports channel devoted to the Wizards and their hockey counterparts. If you follow the NBA here, you're relyin on the internet and watching games on television. In an NBA city, you can sit and marvel at the speed, beauty and brutality of the game. I remember taking my kids to the MCI Center in DC. I wanted them to see the Admiral. I wanted my son to see how Calbert Cheaney played defense, until Mike put 50 up on him in the one time the Wizards actually made the NBA playoffs. I wanted him to see Georges Muresan, as my son was a soon to be seven footer. We asked Georges what kind of car he drove so we could get one my son cold fit behind the wheel in. I'll never foget what Muresan said: get good car, take back seat out, move front seat back, then drive. I remember Juwan Howard telling my son, who had blossomed into a size 18 shoe by his senior year in high school where to buy foot wear. Howard gave us the name of the place, the guy to see, then called the game to tell him we were coming. A place in Atlanta, named Friedmans, by the way. That's how easy and seamless it is to follow the NBA in a town that has a team. Out here? Not so much. NBA players are the best conditioned athletes on the planet. But they don't operate, nor do they capture the attention of the universe called Cincinnati. Not anymore. And that's a shame.