Each year, a few days before Halloween, the ritual begins again. While the majority of mortals take advantage of the night to sleep, a brotherhood of French night owls resumes their sacrifices. Their offerings are not counted in liters of blood but in hours of sleep. Their altar is decorated with the orange ball of the NBA, back on the floors from the end of October. And it lasts like that until June and the championship finals…
Suffice to say that this Friday evening is a real event looming for these faithful among the faithful: the first match in history played on French soil.
When the season is in full swing, the passion of some French fans pushes them in front of a screen to live the live meetings. And too bad for jet lag. For Matthieu, project manager in a signage company of 28 years, the fold was taken when he was a teenager. He did not play basketball, unlike his friends. "I started watching the games with them," he tells us. As I am a big fan of sport in general, I quickly got a taste for it. Since then, we have been sleeping at night. "
"I rarely get up for a New Orleans - Charlotte"
Everyone has their own rhythm. For a match, Étienne, 24 years old and computer developer in Laval (Mayenne), will keep his eyes open until kick-off at one in the morning "to go to bed around three."
Thomas, a 22-year-old student from Toulouse, is content with the Clippers' games, one of the two Los Angeles franchises "It's too hard otherwise", he breathes. Nine hours apart separate the city of Angels from the Pink City. "I am often told that it is harder because it is on the West Coast. I find it better. I go to bed early, at most at 11 p.m., the match starts at 4 a.m., lasts around 2.5 hours and then I go straight to class. "
The LeBron James dunks, Rudy Gobert's counters or Luka Doncic's early records do not populate these addicts from the basket every night either. Not all matches are created equal. You would have to be gifted with supernatural power anyway to follow live the hundreds of games on the NBA calendar.
"I rarely get up for a New Orleans - Charlotte," admits Matthieu, who estimates watching an average of two games a week. Not to mention the Sunday evening meeting, which is easier to watch because it is broadcast in “prime time” for France. Thomas' cadence varies over the months. At the start of the season, it's two or three games a week. When January comes, this communication student is more reasonable with a difference per week.
"There are times when we get a little loose"
So much for the regular season, contested until April. But when spring and the playoffs, the final phase of the NBA arrive, Etienne says he is ready to sacrifice "a large part of his sleep". Same change of gear for Matthieu: “In general, for the finals and the conference finals, I will watch all the games. "
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All these nights cut by several hours sometimes end up being felt. No question of complaining however. "There are of course times when you have a few slack strokes, but you have to take responsibility for your choices", summarizes Matthieu. A philosophy and a discourse shared by Etienne. “If I make sacrifices, it's because I know I can make them. I try to watch the games without harming the rest. "
You also have to deal with relatives who are not as enthusiastic about the spectacle offered on American parquet floors. A few months ago, Thomas lived with his parents. When he woke up at night, he did it "a little bit quietly". “They did not want me to be standing at 4 am in front of a screen while I was in class in the morning. It is normal that they are not happy, I have no excuse! ". Without it being a source of conflict, Matthew's girlfriend also does not always understand what drives his companion to take so much trouble at night. "She takes me for a bit of a freak!" », He admits with a laugh.
Social networks have made a difference
However, you can very well vibrate to the rhythm of NBA games without turning into a creature of the night. When they don't commit infidelity to their pillows, fans flock to social networks in the morning to watch summaries of the meetings or discover the most beautiful actions. Interest was also fueled by Twitter accounts maintained by aficionados of each franchise and media devoted to American basketball such as Basket USA, Trash Talk or First Team.
LeBron vs Kyrie 🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/33riv46tJe- First Team (@ FirstTeam101) January 24, 2020
The American League also takes care of its European fans. Since this season, it has not offered one but two meetings broadcast in the evening on the Old Continent each weekend.