Toronto Air Canada Centre is home to both the NHL's Maple Leafs and NBA's Raptors. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
I was down at the arena I usually watch hockey in last night when out of nowhere these immensely tall guys came charging out on to the – what is that, wood? – and started firing around this giant orange, bouncy puck.
Basketball and hockey have some definite similarities in terms of season length, scheduling and shared facilities. And last night, I saw the Toronto Raptors do something the Toronto Maple Leafs have been doing a little too much of for their own good of late: win.
But for any overlap the NBA and NHL share, there are certainly some defining differences between their respective sports. A few of them jumped to mind while taking in last night’s action:
• So there is bodychecking in basketball, but in an odd twist, near as I can tell, it only occurs between teammates in the form of half-hearted, leaping collisions. And it also never happens during the action, instead being confined to pre-game introductions and following stoppages of play that occur after a particularly exciting event.
I don’t think Dion Phaneuf would like this.
• By contrast, the mind-numbing music blares during the play in basketball.
• Instead of a cool Zamboni – also known as Canada’s Ferrari – taking care of all your resurfacing needs, some kid pushing a mop sneaks onto the court when play moves to the other end and quickly scurries back to the sidelines when the giant men return.
• In basketball, people who celebrate excessively have their character celebrated, not questioned.
• When contact results in somebody tumbling hard to the court, teammates gather around the player who might be hurt and ask, ‘Hey man, you OK?’
In hockey, when a coming together results in somebody smacking the ice with great force, his teammates gather around the guy believed to be responsible for triggering the fall and ask questions we can’t recite on this website.
• A team that finishes below .500 will almost certainly make the NBA playoffs. In hockey, a team that finishes above .500 could conceivably be closer to a lottery pick than a playoff berth.
• In basketball, some defensive alignments are illegal and goaltending is a penalty.
I don’t think Jacques Lemaire would like this.
• About two-thirds of the way through my basketball experience last night, the JumboTron started showing highlights from a number of different sports, including hockey. That was a great part of the night.
Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears Fridays.
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