Remember basketball? It’s this sport people used to play where two teams would try to put this rubber ball through a hoop on the opposite side of a hardwood court. It probably feels like a lifetime since the sport was played but in actuality it’s only been about a week since the NBA put their season on hold and the NCAA cancelled the annual March Madness college basketball tournament.
Hoops fans have had a rough go of it lately, but loving basketball doesn’t begin and end with the season. During the sport’s hiatus, there are plenty of ways to keep your love of the game burning strong. It may require going a little bit outside of your comfort zone as a fan (spoiler alert, there’s a comic book on this list) but as they say, beggars can’t be choosers. Here are the best ways to keep your basketball fandom sated during the sport’s current hiatus.
NBA 2K20 | $30
Maybe the single most reliable substitution for a regular season with the added bonus of interactivity. NBA 2K is one of the longest-running franchises in the world of sports-based video games and the newest edition is as great as ever.
Not only is it a great way to keep yourself immersed in the game of basketball, but it also provides the opportunity to play online with friends and strangers alike. Staying connected with fellow hoops fans is going to be vital in the age of social distancing and you’ll find fewer better opportunities to engage with that than 2K.
Air Jordan 4 - Neon | $225
The world of sneakers and basketball are pretty inextricably entwined, with no brand moreso synonymous with the sport than the Air Jordan. There are a litany of different silhouettes you can pick up to feel like Mike but the latest edition is the Air Jordan 4 ‘Neon’, which draws inspiration from a popular Air Max colorway.
If a fresh pair of Jordans doesn’t get you back in touch with why you love basketball, you’re in the severe minority (if Nike doesn’t have your size, try Foot Locker).
ESPN+ | $5-13/month
Game replays might not be available on the sports juggernaut’s streaming service (the main draw is a wide array of live events being streamed but sports as a whole are on hold for now) but it’s still one of the best lifelines basketball fans have available these days.
A subscription, which is cheap on its own and can also be bundled with Hulu and Disney+, comes with full access to ESPN’s original content as well as the 30 for 30 library, ESPN’s flagship series of award-winning sports documentaries. From This Magic Moment to No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson, there’s a bevy of incredible basketball content available that will get you fully immersed in the history and culture of the sport in a way a regular season game just can’t.
Blu-Ray | $23
Does this come from a significant place of bias as this feature is being written by a Raptors fan? Yes. Does that mean revisiting one of the more unlikely and impressive seasons and Finals runs in recent memory isn’t a legitimately great time for basketball fans? Absolutely not. The Raptors went on a hell of a tear last year in the regular and post-season, leading to the team bringing the NBA Championship to Toronto for the first time since the team debuted 24 (now 25) years ago. If you can’t watch basketball live you can at least relive the thrill of one of the more exciting modern basketball runs at home.
There are plenty of in-depth, thorough hoops biographies, autobiographies, and oral histories out there. This is not one of those, but it might be better. Author Shea Serrano’s Basketball (and Other Things) is a heartfelt love letter to the sport structured around a series of questions (What is the most disrespectful dunk of all time? Which NBA players got remembered for the wrong reasons?) that delve into the history of basketball and pop culture at large.
Hoops fans will walk away remembering why they loved the sport to begin with, but this is also the rare piece of basketball fandom that could serve to convert even the most skeptical of non-fans into evangelical worshippers of the game.
Speaking of a book that could convert someone into a basketball fan (or a basketball fan into a comic book reader, for that matter), manga master Takehiko Inoue’s Slam Dunk is one of the most popular comic books of all time, with hundreds of millions of copies sold since the series began way back in the ‘90s.
Slam Dunk is the story of the Shohoku high school basketball team and their quest to win nationals and specifically follows protagonist Hanamichi Sakuragi on his quest to impress the girl he has a crush on with his unique ability to pull off perfect slam dunks.
It’s a story spanning 31 volumes, so if you decide you’re into it after volume one you’ve got plenty of reading to keep you occupied while Adam Silver decides what to do about the 2020 post-season.
Look, the courts are closed. Gyms are closed. There’s no NCAA March Madness or NBA season. It’s harder than ever to get buckets or watch buckets get got. Get some of your own with this game.