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The British Basketball League Is Honestly Worth Watching

It's good, wholesome fun, plus there are hotdogs! With tortilla chips on them!
Man enjoying a British Basketball game
(All photos via the author)

Basketball is a sport done right. And by that, I mean basketball is a perfect sport. To which you may stupidly say: ‘what about football’. Or perhaps even, ‘my rugby, my precious rugby; that’s much better’. To which I say: No. Idiot. Sport is about excitement – pure, unadulterated excitement. Those sports, although exciting and fun in parts, come nowhere near the Really Great Fun™ that is basketball.


OK, football was a good starting point: yes. But an average of four "holy fucks" per 90 minutes simply isn’t enough and you know it. In those non-Holy Fuck moments you’re checking your phone, aren’t you? You don’t really know the Pogba’s pass completion was 84 percent against West Ham. You read it. Didn’t you. You’re bored. Aren’t you.

Here, An Alternative

Basketball is end-to-end and they dunk all the time and they sometimes play rap music during possessions and they have cool handshakes and the players have personality and it is great and I love it. Watching it is a very wholesome version of fun. But you most likely don’t know that. Space Jam: that’s the version of basketball you know, mostly for the strangely hot rabbit.

Which is odd considering it’s the second biggest sport in the US. It's adored all over Europe; even considered a ‘second religion’ in Lithuania. So the fact is hasn’t spread to these anglo-lands is quite peculiar, really, especially so when you think about the fact the NBA comes and plays a real game with real players here once a year. I mean, even Drake [wants you to know he] loves basketball, and we usually lap up everything that Now-Hench Cornball does. And yet the British Basketball League – which started up in the UK more than 30 years ago, in 1987 and features 12 teams from England and Scotland – still feels underrated. But, if you're not at the games (and not naturally a 'basketball fan'), you're missing out.


Watching Basketball Is Wholesome Fun – Which Is the Rarest Fun

I’ve thought about this deeply and come to the conclusion that as an adult who pays rent and bills while carrying the emotional pain of a harsh capitalist system, you can have only five versions of fun. Obviously there are many activities, but each of them falls into these categories:

Terrible Fun

The fun that fucking ruins you and makes you hate every single person, ever, but above all: you. You piece of shit. Why did you say that drivel; spill that drink; buy that bag? You’re terrible. Everyone used to think that but now they know it.

Boring Fun

You’re on the tube. Long day. Tired, you’re ready to really get your teeth into tonight, aren’t you? Mm, yeah. Nice dinner, bit of Netflix, and whatever else you have time for. Maybe play the new Spider-Man game you used your unnervingly large overdraft to buy.

Lazy Fun

There’s a certain pleasure in darkness. No expectations, not one. Just you and Paul Hollywood’s wet-look silver waves. Paul won’t shake your hand, no. But he also won’t not shake your hand. You can just spend all day watching Paul sizing up whether to shake a selection of baker’s hands while yours are safe from rejection. It’s underbaked. Not you. That won’t be said near your precious ears, my dear worthless piece of shit. You’re safe in that warm duvet; you’re that warm duvets star baker. And you’re my star baker, too.

Family Fun

I guess I do like applesauce, yeah. But I only ever eat it with roast pork, which I almost never cook. I’m not paying £1.56 for something I’ll most likely use once a year. Luckily, though, mum has it. She has quite the affinity with roasting pork, too. Your vegan sympathies can be dropped as soon as you hit the B-roads. "Enjoy that roast pork, Kieron. After, we’re going to watch Love Actually. We have some nice choccies, too. Yeah, Crunchie Rocks: your favourite." Lovely, mum. That’ll be nice, thanks.

Wholesome Fun

Yes. This is the best fun. This is you and your mates at Alton Towers with plans to head to the pub after. Wholesome fun is the best fun. The type you enjoyed when young. It most often has to be heralded by an activity that can be enjoyed entirely sober, which for some reason proves difficult. Watching basketball falls into this fun, the best fun.

Why You Should Go And Watch BBL (British Basketball League) Games: A List

You Can Drink At Your Seat And Also Eat HOT DOGS!!!

Imagine this: Watching a sport, with the luxury of enjoying a pint and some reasonably priced, unhealthy food, at your seat. This is a feeling that football took from me; something I never thought I could ever have again. But it is a feeling I, and more importantly you, can have! And yes! Those are tortilla chips on my hotdog.


Dunks in Real Life Are Very Fun

I’m lucky enough to be blessed with a frame made for dunking. A tall lad, for sure. All the materials to be an IG star slamming that shit in. Unfortunately, when it comes to athleticism I’ve been endowed approximately the same bounce that Theresa May has charisma.

So, seeing actual people jump high enough to shove a ball into a 10-ft hoop with the perfect amount of bravado, so that the person trying to stop said dunk is somewhat intimidated but isn’t weird about it, it's… it’s beautiful. Life-affirming. Makes you feel like you can do better.

The End-To-End Aspect Is Really Quite Thrilling

The best football game I’ve ever been to – and I mean the very best; my go-to drunk patter good – was when Portsmouth beat Cardiff to win the FA Cup. I remember that day like you remember [insert memory of you getting your fav ever Christmas present]. Get chills just thinking about it.

The thing is, that game was fucking shit. 0-0, against notorious shithousers Cardiff, until the 87th minute when Nwankwo Kanu scored from 30 yards out. Literally the most boring game of football you’ll ever watch. This insipid nonsense just isn’t possible with basketball. Even the most boring games will have some scuffles, dunks, and at least one ongoing sporting battles between two Very Tall people. Thrilling stuff, to say the least.

Everyone There Actually Cares

The first thing I noticed at the game was a lot of kids. Turns out London Lions give free tickets to local junior schools to get them into the game. Which is lovely. No remark, just lovely. And it works out as well, too: those kids make some real fucking noise. They bring their parents along. Reminds me of when I used to go down Fratton Park. Makes me feels warm inside. Lovely stuff.


Yes, It’s a Project. But That Doesn’t Matter

There’s no hiding from the fact the BBL is a project. The game I went to, as you may be able to see, was quite empty. But the Wholesome Fun to be had is fruitful, my friend. No reason at all for this not to be London’s next top activity.

And look, mate, I really think you should go this Friday. You’ve been to Printworks three weekends on the trot and I’m a little worried, tbh. You’re looking quite gaunt. Think you’ve had enough of the Terrible Fun, lad. We all have, really. How about some of that Wholesome Fun? Will do you well, I think.