On Thursday I watched my first live basketball game, Yao Ming and the Rockets against the Oakland Warriors.
I was shocked to learn: Basketball is not fair.
When introducing the Rockets, the announcer read only the names of Yao Ming and one other player. To introduce the Warriors, uniformed men ran onto the floor waving ten-foot-tall team banners, and the announcer read a multi-sentence introduction for every player.
During play, whenever the Rockets took the offensive and got into position to shoot, the announcer played tense music to throw them off-balance. Pounding horror-film music. The theme from Jaws. Beethoven's Fifth.
When the Warriors prepared to shoot, the announcer played victory music laden with trumpets.
I leaned over to voice my shock at the Googlers next to me. One of them said, "In Texas, the audience members wave shiny strips of paper, to distract the visiting team while they're trying to shoot."
WTF! How can it be reasonable sportsmanship to invite another team to play in your home court, and then do these ridiculous distractions? How about if I challenge Sha-mayn and Dan to play scrabble with me at my townhouse, and then blast heavy metal during their turns?
One man in the section to my left shouted, "You suck!" every time Yao Ming went up for a penalty free throw. (Yao landed all the free throws anyway.)
The two teams went neck-and-neck through the game. In the fourth quarter, with less than half a minute to go, the Rockets led by two points.
Then the Warriors scored a three-point toss and a foul, pulling into the lead with only 1.2 seconds left in the game. The stadium went crazy: cheerleaders sprinting onto the court, audience hopping up and down, the mascot dancing a jig.
You could say the Rockets managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Who can blame them, with the crappy home-court-advantage syndrome!