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The N.B.A. Lockout, Through a Mom's Eyes
Mom to NBA: Play Ball!
November 8, 2011; New York Times: Op-Ed


I have never followed basketball. Personally, I don’t really care what happens in these talks the owners and players are having. I will never turn on the TV to watch a game. I’m sure I wouldn’t even know what team was in the playoffs when that time came. I’m not the NBA’s audience. No money to be made off of me. My interests lie elsewhere.

But this year, my 9-year-old son, out of nowhere, took notice of basketball. Last spring he started asking my husband about the N.B.A. Who were the players? When were the games? Who was in the lead? He asked for a basketball to play with at recess. After school in the yard, he does that thing that where he pivots, shoots, chases the ball, and does it again, and again, and again. I hear him talking about LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Joe Johnson. He says his favorite player of all time is Dominique Wilkins, who once beat Michael Jordan in a dunking contest.
For most mothers — even those who couldn’t give a hoot about this sport — there is simply nothing that makes you happier than when your child takes an interest in something out there in the great, wide world. Something complex, something real, competitive, something that requires hard work, something animated by heart and “love of the game.” So now you have me, N.B.A. You just sold countless tickets, T-shirts and advertising time. He’s only 9.
But the other day at breakfast my husband told us, “The N.B.A. might not be happening this year.”
Are you guys kidding me?
Do you understand that a piqued interest is more fragile than a Faberge egg? One missed year and you could lose him — and his little brother who will follow his lead. Do you players get that if he sees one of you leaping up into the air and scoring a point, he will try to do it the next day — about 1,000 times? Do you owners get that he’ll fall in love with your league? He’ll learn how to stick with a team even it’s losing and hope against all hopes for its success. Do you know how good that is for a forming mind? Do you understand that he now takes the sports section with him on the bus to read about you? It’s really hard for him to read — but he wants to, because of you. He’s like an apple ripe for the picking. You could have him for the next 70 years. All you have to do is play.

Isabel Gillies is an actress and the author of the memoirs “Happens Every Day: An All-Too-True Story” and “A Year and Six Seconds: A Love Story.”