I’ll admit it. I wanted to see the big yellow duck that made its American debut floating on the Allegheny River in front of PNC Park last night and so did what felt like 5-10% of the region. Duck hysteria! In my estimation, somewhere between 20-30,000 thousand people milled around the stadium, river walk and on the Roberto Clemente Bridge to catch a glimpse of the internationally known concept art. It was a grand event and I don’t think I’ve seen downtown buzz like it did last night. Keep in mind I’ve attended two championship parades and other seasonal events. Nothing was quite like the duck’s debut.
That said, what will happen Saturday interests me more than what happened Friday. Duquesne will begin its 2013-14 season amidst next to no fanfare, but the start of basketball always excites me. Other schools around the country kicked off practice yesterday if their official game schedule starts a day earlier than the Dukes. The opening of practice marks the end of the longest off season in all of major American sports.
While the duck was exciting, so is basketball. Here are a few thoughts on why the first day of basketball makes me happier.
Basketball Players Move
The duck only does three things: draws crowds, lights up from the inside, and floats. Basketball does so much more. People gather for basketball as well though not in the same kind of numbers we saw at the duck last night. While no basketball player that I’ve heard of is internally luminescent, I would imagine most could float if given the opportunity and they can move in so many other ways. Dribble penetration, hook shots, charge drawing and one handed jams left our lives in April and for those who couldn’t make it, rest assured the duck didn’t do any of that.
Basketball Is Art, Too
Someone told me that the duck was an allegory for world commonality and connectivity in the sense that all our waterways eventually flow together and essentially form a giant world wide bathtub we all share. What better subject for Florentijn Hofman to float in it than a four story rubber duck. All you might see is a big f’ing duck but that, my friends, is art. Of course, I don’t think many could make the leap from yellow, vinyl water fowl to worldwide unity without the explanation.
However, you and I can see the art in a floor general running the show and squeezing passes into tight spaces. We see the rare skill of an athletic big man with great footwork who dominates in the post. We recognize the conceptual genius of a well called time out or an in bounding play crafted on the fly by an outstanding coach. While the beauty of basketball is a more accessible, it doesn’t make it less enjoyable to the trained eye than art.
Basketball Season Lasts Longer
I saw the duck last night. I’ll see it again today. I’ll probably see it quite a few more times the rest of the month, but my reaction will probably change from “O wow,” to “O there’s that thing, again.” Every year since 2004, I’ve promised myself that I would watch more basketball than just the A-10. I plan to keep that promise this year and I’m going to get five solid months of entertainment from basketball. I’ll be over the big yellow duck by tomorrow.