Even without the NBA, basketball fans have plenty of ways to enjoy the game


Maryland’s Ashton Pankey is one of the players who make college basketball exciting to watch. And tickets to their games are less costly than NBA seats are. (Jonathan Newton/THE WASHINGTON POST)

The National Basketball Association season was supposed to have started this week. But there will be no games for a while, because the NBA owners and players are fighting over money. Since both groups are millionaires, it seems a little bit like spoiled kids fighting over a new toy until it breaks and no one gets to play anymore.

So what’s a basketball-loving kid supposed to do without the NBA? Plenty. Here are some suggestions on how to spend your time while waiting for LeBron, Kobe, Dirk and the rest of the NBA stars to get back in action.

Play hoops: Kids’ teams and games will be starting soon. It’s important to work on your game so you will be ready for your season.

One way to improve is to work on your off hand. (That’s the one that’s not your favorite.) Good players can use either hand to dribble, pass and shoot. So if you’re right-handed, practice dribbling and shooting with your left hand. If you’re left-handed, work on your right. A few minutes a day really helps.

Read hoops: There are lots of basketball books for kids. I’ve written six that combine sports fiction and basketball history. I hope you read them, but they aren’t the only basketball books. There are plenty of stories, biographies of great players and books about how to improve your basketball skills. So go to a library or bookstore and ask for books on basketball. Reading about hoops can be as much fun as playing.

Talk hoops: The first NBA season was in 1946-47. The league had 11 teams, including familiar names such as the Boston Celtics and New York Knickerbockers. They also had teams called the Detroit Falcons, Providence Steamrollers and Washington Capitols. Since those early years, there have been dozens of teams and hundreds of great players.

If you have older relatives who like basketball, ask them what their favorite team was when they were growing up. Or their favorite player. Or ask whether they played hoops when they were a kid.

Watch hoops: The NBA and the Washington Wizards are not the only game in town. The Washington area has lots of college teams whose seasons are starting this month.

Check out the schedules for the men’s and women’s teams at Georgetown, American, George Washington, Howard, Maryland and George Mason. I am probably forgetting a local school or two. But you get the idea. The tickets are not as expensive as the NBA’s, and the games are super exciting. So make plans to go see a college game.

There might not be any NBA basketball for a while, but there are still plenty of hoops — to play, to read, to talk about and to watch.

Fred Bowen will be appearing at a father-and-son tailgate party at Politics and Prose Bookstore in Washington on Sunday, Nov. 13, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Call 202-364-1919 for more information.

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