Like many basketball fans out there, I don't like the NBA. It takes everything good about the college game and ruins it. The season is too long, the players are too nice and the teams are too soft.

Yes, NBA commissioner David Stern should work for the United Nations because he has methodically turned the pro-basketball association into a glorified YMCA league. The NBA, "where amazing happens?" Not quite, Stern. Try "the NBA where the amazingly lame happens."

Detroit's "Bad Boy" era of Bill Laimbeer has given way to the "Nancy Boy" era of Jared Jefferies. Pat Riley's rough-and-tough Knicks have given way to an offense-only Mike D'Antoni team. The pro league has gone from blood and tears to high fives and smiles; from must-wins to win when we feel like it.

I'd rather watch middle school ball than guys like Andrei Kirilenko (Cry-Baby), Yao Ming (Soft), Lamar Odom (Disappointment), Vince Carter (Injury-Faker), Sasha Vujacic (More like Vujashit), Dirk Nowitzki (Pansy), Kyle Korver (Pretty Boy), Anderson Verajao (Flopper), Pau Gasol (Just plain ugly), and Yi Jianlian (Bucks would have been better off drafting the chair he worked out against). They'd probably cry less too. Kirilenko unleashed the waterworks mid-practice back in 2007.

Just think about how many times you've seen a professional team get spanked and the players of the losing squad laughing after the game. I guess I'd be pretty happy too if I was getting paid millions to get my butt kicked.

But if there's a silver lining for the NBA, it is the playoffs. A rare period in time when the stars align, the players try and things get interesting. Already, some of the turds in the professional league's punch bowl have disappeared for a more exciting NBA product.

Nothing makes an NBA playoff series better than a fight or trash talk. It takes something to make the game personal to get these athletes to wake up and smell the testosterone. Just that happened in the Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat Eastern Conference match up.

On Saturday, Boston superstar Kevin Garnett elbowed Miami shooting guard Quentin Richardson in the face during a sideline scrum. Garnett was ejected and suspended for Game 2.

Now, I don't promote violence and I understand that Garnett's punishment was well deserved. The elbow was dirty and malicious, but Richardson and the Heat know that too. The series just got personal, as now some egos are involved. Not just any egos either, the super-sized egos of NBA stars.

I'm willing to bet that Richardson is going to try that much harder to beat the Celtics now that Garnett popped him in the face. What better way to punch an NBA player back than to win the series, end his season and show him you're better at what he loves most.

Garnett likely feels the same way, now that Richardson called him and fellow Boston star Paul Peirce "actresses" in a post game interview. Bulls' center Joakim Noah fueled the fire even more with some comments of his own, calling Garnett "a dirty player."

The elbow and trash-talking have knocked the governor off the two teams' competitive drive and is going to make the rest of the series an all-out battle. This is when the NBA gets interesting: When something reminds the players that the game is for more than just basketball, it's for pride. If the Celtics lose this series, KG isn't going to give Richardson a band-aid and a kiss on the forehead, he's going to be embarrassed and the same goes for Richardson.

Whether David Stern likes it or not, there will be grudge matches in the NBA, because that's what competition is and that's what people want to see.

There's a reason we love basketball from the past and players like Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman. Back then, the game didn't end with high fives and friendships, it ended with a winner and a loser. Players didn't care if you liked them or the way they played, they just cared about winning, because that's what got them where they are and that's what people wanted to see.

Contact assistant sports editor Brenton Lewis at brenton.lewis@richmond.edu