Hardwood Pines : Ten Things I’m Missing Due to the NBA Lockout
Every year, come the end of October, there is a special bounce in my step as I eagerly await the opening tip-off of the new NBA season. I love sports in general, but I love basketball more than any of them. And even though the spirit and grit of the college game is unquestionably awesome (the NCAA Tournament is hands down the greatest annual sporting event) there is something about the anticipation of seeing the greatest players in the world take the court for 82 games + playoffs that makes me giddy. (Like, literally giddy. I drive my wife crazy from about October 15 through November 1.)
Not this year, of course. This year, the inability of the players and owners to budge on whether the revenues will be split 50-50 or 52-48 is shutting down part or all of the season. (Seriously, we all know it’s going to eventually end at 51-49, so why can’t we just make the deal and start the show?)
And so, as a tribute to the season that isn’t yet and may never be, and to vent my heart’s frustrations and pains, I give you:
Ten Things I’m Cranky About Missing Due to the NBA Lockout
10. Mark Cuban Getting on Every Other Owner’s Nerves
Cuban is one of those guys that’s hard not to love, even if what you love about him is how much you relish hating him. Every year he gets on his associates’ nerves by whining about how he can’t get a break even though his club is so much better than everyone else’s. And now, for the first time, he can back up that claim. Can you imagine how insufferable he would be right now to everyone else in the league that doesn’t wear a Mavs uniform? Me neither, which is why it would have been nice to see it first hand.
9. The Celtics Giving it One More Chance
I’m a big fan of older champions with heart leaving everything on the court in the 11th hour of their career. I rooted hard against John McEnroe all of his superstar career, bastard that he was. But in ’92 when he was dragging his old-man butt around the court handing it to Boris Becker and Emelio Sanchez? I was his biggest fan. Garnett, Allen and Peirce don’t have enough in the tank to hoist another O’Brien, but they have enough pride to do some hellacious damage trying. If the lockout extends so long that Garnett and Company are too old to punk most of the Eastern Conference, I will never forgive the NBA.
8. Hearing Marv Alpert Say “Meta-World Peace” Over And Over in the Play-By-Play
As if there weren’t enough reason to watch the artist previously known as Ron Artest… each night wondering if tonight is the night he might finally snap.
7. The Inevitable New York Crash and Burn
Too much sports analysis these days is done by people who spend too much time with their fantasy leagues. Which is why the combination of Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire gets people talking “contender!” despite the fact that neither plays defense and each tends to disappear in big moments. Seeing a team that shouldn’t be great but everyone thinks is supposed to be great not be great is one of sport’s great guilty pleasures.
6. The Thunder’s Next Step
They were poised for greatness even before they got Kendrick Perkins. Now they look to be a top five team – maybe even a top two if they continue to develop.
5. The Crazy-Ass Quality of Point Guards
It feels like for a long time high-quality NBA point guards have been few and far between. Suddenly, the argument of “best PG in the league” is almost as fun as best player. Derrick Rose? Chris Paul? Rajon Rondo? Deron Williams? Russell Westbrook? John Wall? Brandon Jennings? And all of that’s assuming that Steve Nash finally slows down and acts his age, thereby finally getting taken out of the discussion. (I would not bet on this.)
4. Miami’s Next Move
And perhaps more to the point, will they have a “next move?” Will they really continue to try the “load up the superstars and see what happens” mindset, or will the try to use conventional team building to craft a potential dynasty? And regardless of how they go about trying to be a dynasty, will they succeed?
3. Blake Griffin Just Generally Being a Beast
2. Seeing What LeBron Really Learned
Every year it seems like LeBron comes back to the league with a new dance move, a new bench routine that fans love, and a cool new Nike ad campaign packaged together with the greatest basketball talent God has ever seen fit to put on this Earth. But the drive to win, that bit of nasty and killer instinct, seems to take back seat. If he’s ever going to be the player we all hoped he would be, he needs to learn to focus more on the will and less on the marketing. If he ever does, MJ’s uncontested spot atop NBA greats might suddenly become a little shaky.
1. How Much of the Lakers’ Dominance Really Was Phil?
Yeah, yeah, this is only number one because I’m such an unabashed Laker fan. Sue me. But I have a feeling that, even though they have the right personnel and they will be rested and healed for the first time since 2009, Phil has been more important to his teams’ successes than he is given credit for. It will be fun (or torture) finding out if Kobe, Pau and Lamar can succeed without him. (Interesting side question: without Phil do we see dish-and-distribute-while-cutting-out-your-heart Kobe, or will we go back to shoot-first-and-get-81 Kobe?)
So hurry the fish up, players and owners. I need my fix.
(Later, once I have developed enough of a sour grapes attitude, I will post my 10 Reasons I’m Glad the NBA is in Lockout.)