Charles Barkley is correct.
During a recent NBA Playoff game, Barkley made these comments (skip ahead to the 4:10 mark, to avoid the breakdown of a Golden State blowout of the Utah Jazz), including this quote:
“Speaking of a Zamboni, thank God for the NHL Playoffs. That’s what I would be watching in the back instead of some of these blowouts.”
He is not the only one watching the NHL over the NBA.
I started following hockey via a random encounter on the radio; the St. Louis Blues broadcast from KMOX came through clearly enough to be heard in Louisville. I didn’t have much idea of what was going on but it sounded somewhat interesting, at least.
A few weeks later, I heard my first Chicago Blackhawks game. I don’t remember what was different about them but I latched onto the Blackhawks, and have been a fan since then (12-15 years, give or take).
On the other side, I grew up as a Los Angeles Lakers fan. The fandom started with “Showtime”, continued through Shaq-Kobe, and has endured the post-Phil Jackson run. I added the Indiana Pacers to the ‘Favorites’ list, due to Reggie Miller’s tormenting of the Eastern Conference (especially looking at YOU, New York Knicks).
I do not watch much of the regular season in either sport, these days. I will turn on the playoffs for both sports… but keep a hockey game on, more than likely. The NBA playoffs, with some notable exceptions, just hasn’t been that exciting. I’m glad that LeBron James finally got a title in Cleveland, but the NBA Eastern Conference playoffs have been a joke for the better part of a decade. The Western Conference has been more entertaining, with better played basketball, but it still ends up being: “who will end up in the way of a Spurs-Warriors Western Final?”.
NHL, on the other hand, has not suffered from blowouts galore. With few exceptions, all of their playoff games have been very entertaining. The level of play, for their sport, has been head-and-shoulder higher than the NBA. Their fans, overall, have also been much more engaged. Ask the Blackhawks just how loud the Nashville Predators fans were.
So, I am in agreement with Charles Barkley. If given the choice, I’m turning on the NHL Playoffs, over the NBA Playoffs, especially in the pre-Finals rounds for both sports.