Where it all began.....
I had first been introduced to US sports when Channel 4 in the UK started showing American Football and I saw my first of 30 Super Bowls in January 1986 when the Chicago Bears blew out the New England Patriots (Patriots are a far cry from that team back then).
Then I was channel surfing on a Saturday one night a few years later and came across Basketball on BBC 1. This wasn't the British League but a professional league in the United States. You have to remember this was a time when you didn't have the various means to keep up with sports like we can today so I wasn't even aware of such a league. The BBC showed a weekly programme from memory of the NBA Playoffs and I became hooked. I didn't pick a team to root for straight away but I began to really enjoy watching the likes of Magic (Johnson), (Larry) Bird and Michael (Jordan). There was something about MJ and it became a natural thing for me to root for the team he played for much like many kids in Chicago and all over North America. The Chicago Bulls were a popular team and Jordan was an elite athlete playing this game like no other.
It wasn't until the late 1980's, early 1990's that I saw more than just the playoffs in the NBA. My parents had decided to get Satellite Television and there was a channel on that called Screensport which showed a lot of US sports and satisfied my thirst for watching more NBA. Alongside this was a company based in Switzerland called Pontel (which is still around today but has become a less common way to get games due to the advent of NBA League Pass). Pontel would sell videotapes of NBA games and mail them all over the world outside of North America and they became a great source for me to add to my growing interest in a game I would love to this day.
The Jordan dominated Bulls era of the 1990's was a fun time to be a Basketball fan whether it be in the UK or anywhere else in the world, as the popularity of Jordan continued to grow with each growing game. The Dream Team playing at the 1992 Olympics only added to the worldwide appeal of the NBA. NBA stars would also come over to Europe for the McDonalds Open, which featured an NBA team every season against the very best European Teams.
Fast forward to today and we can now watch any game we want to with the advent of League Pass. It has meant that I haven't missed a Bulls game in almost 8 seasons. Whilst this has meant some late nights, it has been worth every bit of those sleepless nights.
Even after all these years my love for the game has never died and I love the game as much now as I did back then. I am fortunate enough to be able to cover a sport I have a great passion for and it has afforded me some great opportunities, which I am truly thankful.
This is a season that is incredibly wide open and may very well see a team win the NBA Finals that hasn't done so before. Sit back and enjoy what will be a wild ride as we head to the playoffs and the intensity will increase further when we reach that point.
You can find me on Twitter @StevenFTUK