Christmas with Shaq and LeBron

December 25, 2007 |

It’s Christmas afternoon. My kids are with their mother in Pennsylvania. My wife is two floors up making last minute plans for our wedding vow renewal on Saturday.
 
That leaves me with a TV and an icebox full of my favorite beverage. The problem is there’s absolutely no NFL or NCAA football on the tube, not even the Hula Bowl or the Blue-Gray game.
 
The way I see it, I have three choices: I can watch one of the 11 consecutive screenings of A Christmas Story on TBS, NBA basketball, or any of the junk on the other 120 channels.
 
I opt for basketball. The way I see it, if I have enough of my favorite beverage, even the NBA will seem exciting. Then, I see the warning label. “Please Drink Responsibly”. I change my mind.
 
Then, I get a great idea. I’ll watch the game on my treadmill. I jog a lot outside in the warm weather, but I lapse into hard-core couch potato-itis in the winter. That machine is just too darn boring.
 
But today, I’ll have the Heat-Cavaliers game to ease the boredom of the treadmill. On top of that, I’ll put on my MP3 player to ease the boredom of the game.
 
I start at the opening tip. As a warm-up, I walk at a steady 3 MPH pace through the first six minutes. Then, I resolve to jog anytime the players are on the court. I’ll only slow down to a brisk walk during the time-outs.
 
Things are working out well. As the players are racing up and down the hardwood, I’m working up a sweat on the in my basement.
 
Cleveland jumps out to a ten-point lead. Then, it happens. I hit a wall. Not because I’m tired. I can easily jog eight miles on the NCR trail in the summer, so this is a relatively brief stint on the machine.
 
No, what pains me is the game itself. Maybe it’s because they’re angry at having to spend Christmas in Cleveland. Maybe it’s because they like being on national TV. Or, maybe they’re just fond of blowing their whistles.
 
For whatever reason, the refs decide to call fouls early and often in the second quarter. Jogging with the players vicariously on the treadmill is one thing, but watching Shaq pitifully taking foul shots while I’m waiting for the endorphins to kick in is … well that’s pitiful also.
 
But I made a commitment and by golly, I’m going to stick to it. I kept jogging while yet another whistle was blown. I swear, if every NBA game was called this tight, there would be no NBA.
 
I watch poor Shaq get called for his second foul. He’s fouled out in each of his previous four games. I wonder if the refs are having fun with the possibility of having Shaq tie a fifty year old record for consecutive disqualifications.
 
On the other side of the coin, I see LeBron, racing to the basket. From a court-level camera, a Miami player has clearly established position as he bravely stands between an airborne James and the basket. The Heat guy goes down, but at least the ball doesn’t go in. But wait, there’s yet another foul. It’s gotta be a charge. (Keep in mind; I can’t hear the announcers because I’m listening to music.) Anyway, instead of seeing Wade dribble the ball into the front court, there’s James at the foul line.
 
Shaq may not be getting the star-treatment, but James sure is.
 
The first half eventually ended, but not before the refs gave me a good workout. I burned over 800 calories while they were calling 35 personal fouls. I jogged/walked over five miles while the Heat and Cavaliers attempted a total of 45 free throws.
 
All told, the first half lasted over 72 minutes.
 
I see the second half is already underway. No way am I getting back on that treadmill. Looks like I have to find another way to get through the second half.
 
Watch out icebox!

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