But back then he sang in the Don Ho Show when it was on Lewers Street in Waikiki and we became friends. After the show, Don Ho used to throw open his dressing room for folks to come and say hello and the ladies get a kiss. My mother did a short stint working as secretary-assistant to Don Ho when he lived on Kaneohe Bay Drive.
It's not legal, advisable or convenient, but you can learn a lot about a place from its halftime shows. In Houston, I watched an elderly dance troupe called the Space City Seniors entertain the crowd during a timeout. In a world of nationally televised sports, the local flavor of the home team often gets lost. The playoff math alone ensures a wide geographic spread: Half the league’s teams (16) will play at least one round, in a series of between 4 and 7 games. As a result of the confusion and expense, there are many, many illegal options to watch NBA games.
Indefensible, yes, but the reason that I’ve stuck with these streams is because they actually offer me something I can’t get otherwise. International League Pass isn’t the only way to get some sense of local color; the regular old domestic NBA League Pass offers the option to watch the home or away feeds for many games. These local channels, the ones that have exclusive rights to broadcast, say, Minnesota Timberwolves games to Minnesota, or Dallas Mavericks games to Dallas, or Miami Heat games to Miami—those vary wildly in their commentators. The local channels have their own graphics teams, which, with the exception of some major-market teams like the Knicks, the Los Angeles teams, and the Chicago Bulls, are uniformly cheap and delightful.
The streams I see, the illegal streams from the International NBA League Pass, go even further. There is no announcer guiding you through what’s happening on-screen, but you get to feel, basically, like you’re right there in the stadium. You see cheerleaders promoting free Bojangles Fried Chicken by dancing in the stands while holding boxes of chicken wings.


You see Dwight Howard, perhaps the hammiest player in the NBA, demand that people at his team’s Houston stadium pucker up and kiss for the Kiss Cam.
You can see the strengths of different teams and different markets: the 76ers doing a Star Wars theme night complete with giveaways, the legendary Lakers dancers, the fabulous organ work of Atlanta Hawks organist Sir Foster. The history of The God of Things As They Ought to Be, from tchotchke to college sports oddity. Engineers at Iowa State University build mini-cities and bombard them with simulated tornadoes. Subscribe to the Atlas Obscura Newsletter and get our latest, delivered straight to your inbox. It was sometime between 1969-1970 when we lived on Kauinohea Place near the Yacht Club off the Bay Drive. In Charlotte, a small boy with cool sneakers stood alone in the middle of the court and played violin along with top 40 pop songs. But thanks to some dodgy livestreams (I’ll get to that) and the NBA playoffs, it’s possible to acquaint yourself with some of the incredible hidden corners of American athletic spectacle. They’re not hard to find; just Google “watch NBA online” and you’ll be directed to dozens of sites based in countries with more lax copyright laws (or simply fewer resources to shut down illegal stuff), like Estonia. Many streaming platforms offer live-streaming options; YouTube does, though anyone who tries to broadcast a live NBA game on YouTube tends to get shut down quickly. Namely, they offer the experience of watching the game the way the fans in that market do, just for the length of that game. He did ask me to promote the many good features of his service, which I found sort of surprising given how flagrantly illegal it is.
These give you the exact same experience that someone watching a local feed would see: for just a moment, a Bostonian suffering through a frigid winter can pretend to be in sunny Los Angeles, watching a Clippers or Lakers game with Los Angeles commercials and Los Angeles announcers. It’s not a great thing for an announcer to be, but some fans will openly define themselves as homers. In the early 2000s and earlier, an NBA fan would be able to watch his or her home team, and then maybe once a week a game featuring two other teams.


You see the halftime show, which is almost always a traveling-circus-type-act of people performing gymnastics under harsh lighting or riding a dangerously high unicycle while flipping ceramic bowls onto their heads.
You see a guy lead an entire stadium in a “game” of Simon Says, which is exactly as entertaining as it sounds. They play regional music, talk with non-broadcaster accents, and advertise tiny local car dealerships or discount stores.
They are horrible: peppered with weird racist chat windows, covered in the most sophisticated, infuriating ads on the internet, boasting unreliable and low-quality video. Many of these illegal sites broadcast streams from the International NBA League Pass, a separate deal available overseas that, starting in the 2014-2015 season, offers the option of watching the home or away feed, and replaces all the commercials with a live feed of the stadium. Discussion of the quality and homer-iness of local announcers is common on forums like Reddit, but one’s local announcer, regardless of how much of a homer, can be comforting. In their place, they, basically, just leave the cameras on, showing what’s going on inside the arena. You see coaches doing interviews in a corner of the screen, bright lights blinding them, or sweat-suited players shooting around during halftime.
She said Don Ho and his boys would always be asleep, the place littered with empty beer bottles and cigarette butts.
I have seen Kiss Cams in Los Angeles, Boston, Memphis, and Oklahoma City, and watched awkward teenage boys across this great nation, and in Toronto, perform the “dab” dance when they see themselves on the Jumbotron. And things haven’t become homogenized as a result, at least not yet: the Celtics announcers are still aggressively Boston, the Lakers announcers are as proudly Los Angeles as ever. You see middle-aged men attempt to shoot three-pointers in exchange for a comped weekend at a nearby casino. It’s just that now, fans can see what other fans see, can put themselves in each others’ shoes.



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