What is the basic function of pro basketball for fans - why do we watch?

I watch pro basketball, particularly the Celtics, for the same reason I listen to my favorite music. They both are total diversions for me, where I can forget everything else, particularly the bad stuff.

The function of music is to release us from the tyranny of conscious thought -- Sir Thomas Beecham

It's the same for basketball. In today's sometimes-maniacal world, the tyranny of conscious thought is always with us, and sometimes that is necessary. Professional basketball is back tomorrow, and the Celtics are facing their Eastern Conference rivals, the Philadelphia 76'ers. There will be few mental distractions during the game. My thoughts will be immersed in the game. There will be no room for other thoughts, particularly negative ones. That is healthy. That is positive. These are games after all, and I am into them.

The NBA has become Big Business, but it is still a game for fans. We must also remember that without fans, there is no NBA. If it stops being a game where we get totally involved - and dedicated to this diversion that releases us from the tyranny of conscious thought, the League could fail.

Hopefully, we will never again see the likes of the infamous Malice at the Palace, where the Pistons and Pacers went at it big time with each other and a few fans. When the fines and suspensions go against our Boston players, we may not like it or agree with it, but often it is needed. Marcus Smart is one of my very-favorite players, and I love writing about him. But the whole Marcus-vs.-J. R. Smith episode was handled very nicely by everyone, including Marcus, once Jayson Tatum corralled him. The Celtics are one of the best organizations in the League, from top to bottom, and it showed.

I realize the fights can be entertainment for some folks. Hell, my grandmother used to watch pro hockey primarily to see the fights. But the entertainment is in the game itself, allowing us to get release from the bills, kids' bad behavior, the bad boss or losses in the stock market. That is the main value for NBA fans. And it's back - starting tomorrow.

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Photo via Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE Getty Images