What we read while not Having Another…
The best thing about the Oklahoma City Thunder’s advancement in this year’s NBA Playoffs — and yes, it’s even better than watching Kevin Durant on a big stage (that dude couldn’t even get to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament) — is getting to say “Thunder” a lot more. I’ve said this before (possibly in this forum) that I love seeing the Thunder as a road team on ESPN’s BottomLine, because I automatically connect “Thunder” to whatever other team they’re playing.
But what makes the best combination? What teams would do best by “thundering up”?*
*This whole project, of course, was simply the best and most rational way to deal with the death of Osama bin Laden.
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I probably should have called this post A LeBron question, because there are really dozens of questions surrounding LeBron James right now: Where will he be playing next year? What is his ceiling? Will he win a title for Cleveland this year? Will he be better than Jordan? Etc.
I, like most people, don’t know the answer to these questions. I pay much less attention to the NBA than I pay to the other two major professional sports leagues. Like most people, I care more about the NBA off-season than its regular season. But right now, on the first day of the NBA postseason, one question about LeBron James stands out:
If he wins the title this year, will that make it more or less likely that he returns to the Cavs next season? Continue reading »
Gilbert Arenas is a pretty funny guy, huh? I mean, I haven’t seen humor that black since George Bluth died.
Now, I’m generally not pro Bringing Lethal Weapons To Work. And I generally think it’s okay for employers to fire employees for moral reasons, particularly when the “employer” is as squarely in the public eye as the NBA is. But I think it’s naïve to say that the NBA is in the same position as any other employer.
There was a lot of debate about a similar topic last year, when Roger Goodell decided to reinstate Michael Vick in the NFL. Some people were adamantly on Vick’s side, saying that he had paid his debt to society by spending two years in prison. Therefore, the NFL should honor that “clean slate” by reinstating him.
Other people, though, thought that simply being in prison did not fully warrant a return to football. After all, Vick’s “crime” wasn’t only breaking the law, but tarnishing his image and the image of the NFL. The NFL can choose not to hire an ex-con just as any private company or institution can refuse to employ someone based on his or her background.
Like the NBA, though, the NFL can’t just use this excuse. Both professional leagues have, for all intents and purposes,* a professional monopoly on their sport—if I want to be a pro football player, the NFL is really all that’s available to me.
*There are other basketball leagues, just as there used to be other football leagues, but the difference in scale and salary is such that it’s ridiculous to compare the two. Continue reading »
There is a quote from Bill Simmons on the cover of my copy of The Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam, calling it “the perfect book about the perfect team.” Unfortunately, neither superlative is accurate.
Calling a book “perfect” is generally an overstatement, but it’s less often that an appraisal gets the subject of a book wrong. The problem is that The Breaks of the Game is a book about the 1976-1978 Portland Trail Blazers that covers the 1979-1980 Portland Trail Blazers.
The Portland Trail Blazers began the 1970s as a feeble expansion team, winning 47 total games in its first two seasons. They tried an array of players and coaches, but could never quite put it together—until, that is, a brief run at the end of the 1976-1977 season, when they won the championship, and the first 60 games of the next season, in which they went 50-10.
For that brief stretch, Bill Walton, a college star at UCLA who had struggled in his first two years in Portland, was the best rebounder and defensive center in the league; for that brief stretch, Maurice Lucas became a dominant offensive force; for that brief stretch, Lionel Hollins and Dave Twardzik were a dynamic guard combo. For that brief stretch, the team seemed perfect.
And then Bill Walton got hurt and the team pretty much fell apart. Continue reading »