Years ago, when I first started getting into mixed martial arts, the sport had to compete for my affection with professional basketball. At that time I had no idea that MMA would one day take over my life, and for a while the two sports coexisted peacefully, even symbiotically. When watching two men beat each other senseless got too barbaric, I would turn to basketball; when watching 10 men try to put a ball in a hoop got too ridiculous, I would return to MMA.
Well, the Bible tells us that one day we must put away childish things, and soon it was clear that MMA was pushing basketball right out of my heart. I'd be watching an NBA game between two teams I loved and find myself thinking, “Just elbow him in the face and take the ball! Or elbow him the face and leave the ball! Who cares about a ball?!” Eventually I stopped watching basketball altogether. Still, I think I always held out hope that one day one of two things would happen: 1) I would come back to basketball and once again feel what I'd felt back then; or 2) the NBA would toss out its rulebook and allow fighting on the court.
I long ago gave up hope in scenario one. I moved to Brooklyn the same weekend the Brooklyn Nets began their inaugural season and … I didn't feel a thing. You could have told me an NFL team had moved to Brooklyn and I couldn’t have cared less. My heart had grown cold. As for the second scenario, thanks to Reddit, I saw something today that has finally dashed those hopes as well. It's a video showing MMA legend Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic and his fight team playing a modified version of basketball that allows kicks, strikes, and grappling (and lots of pushing), set to a P. Diddy song. I'm guessing it's some kind of training exercise, but I don't speak Croatian. All I can say for sure is that the video has finally confirmed (along with this and this and especially this) the suspicion I had all those years ago: that fighting and basketball can never truly co-exist.
Not in my heart. Not in a Croatian MMA gym. Not anywhere.