A lot of words on a short NBA season

Posted: February 9, 2012 by shawnfury in Uncategorized

When the NBA finally ended its lockout and decreed games would begin on Christmas Day, I immediately wondered if the League Pass price would come down, considering the season would have more than 200 fewer games than a normal campaign. Maybe the NBA would give fans a break. The league did not. The price for buying early was $169, 10 dollars cheaper than previous early prices, but with that shorter season, it wasn’t any type of break at all.

Maybe I’d protest and not buy it. I’d restrict my NBA viewing to TNT and ESPN. Some Lakers fans expressed their disgust with the Chris Paul trade veto by saying they refused to give money to the league and wouldn’t buy the season pass. Maybe I could do that, and if we started an impotent online petition to sign as well, I’d put my name on that, too.

Of course I caved. Called Time Warner and requested the hoops package. Yes, I’ll pay the bill over a four-month span, thank you, sir. Now when will that Cavs-Bobcats game come on my screen?

A general consensus has emerged about the 66-game season: The quality of play has suffered but the excitement levels are seemingly as high as ever. That doesn’t seem like it makes sense but it somehow has, even as fans – especially those in Orlando – suffer through scoring efforts that are usually reserved for Big Ten basketball. But the season has given us Rubio and skinny Love and strong Pek and LeBron jumping over people and Blake Griffin dunking through people and Kobe shooting the Lakers to victory and Kobe shooting the Lakers to defeats and Kevin Durant’s jumper and Doug Collins’ mania and Jeremy Lin and a whole lot more.

Some tidbits.

* One of the things people rant about online when it comes to League Pass is having to deal with the hometown announcers, many of whom act as if their chosen team hasn’t committed a foul since early in the 1979 season. I like the variety, while acknowledging the ridiculous nature of many of the broadcasts. Boston’s parquet-based life form Tommy Heinsohn remains unparalleled – his highlight this season coming when he compared Greg Stiemsma to Bill Russell, which he did without somehow throwing in the cliched punch line, “Of course, Bill Russell is 77 years old.”

Please keep in mind, Tommy Heinsohn was the analyst for CBS during the Celtics-Lakers wars of the 1980s – and he was also the Celtics guy during those years. And he made these same comments on Celtics broadcasts. CBS heard him and thought, “That’s the guy we want doing our national games.” It’s really just one more thing to hate about the ’80s Celtics, along with Ainge’s whiny face, M.L. Carr’s towel, the Chief’s scowl, McHale’s criminal clothesline, Red’s cigar and Bird’s greatness.

Watching Timberwolves games this season has been a thrill, aside from those two or three bizarre home losses they’ve suffered where they don’t show up in the first quarter, rally in the third and get drilled in the fourth. Finally, Tom Hanneman has something to be optimistic about. Of course, Hanneman is a guy who’d be optimistic if the Earth began hurtling toward the sun:

“Well, at least those Minnesota winters won’t be so unbearable, Petey.”

“Tom, we have two days left to live. There are no more winters. No more summers. Nothing. Nothing but imminent immolation. A bright light, followed by darkness.”

“I know, but we’ll at least be toasty. Now, coming up on the postgame, Anthony LaPanta dissects the Wolves’ fourth-quarter free throw woes and in chalk talk, Jim Peterson and Kevin Lynch teach us about blocking out on free throws.”

This year he actually has legitimate reason for his happy feelings. But it’s a bit strange, because he sounds as excited about a Ricky Rubio no-look assist as he did a jumper by “Fourth Quarter” Foye a few years ago. When you’re eternally optimistic, it’s hard to dial it up when you have actual reason to celebrate what’s on the court.

* Last week Lakers coach Mike Brown got ejected during a loss against the Jazz, when he stomped onto the floor and bumped the ref, which also earned him a one-game suspension. After a decade of Phil Jackson’s stoicism, it was a bizarre sight on the Lakers’ bench. The only time I remember Jackson getting ejected came in Game 2 of the 2001 Western Conference Finals, when he said a few words, was not demonstrative at all, then strolled off the court with a patented smirk and watched in the locker room as the Lakers rallied to take a 2-0 series lead. Brown looked like a bespectacled Norman Dale railing about knowing a hometown referee when he sees one. Or maybe he’s frustrated, waiting for Jimmy Chitwood to play. In this case, Dwight Howard.

“Figured it’s time I come to LA and start playing some ball.”

“I told you once we got rid of him!”

“One thing, I play Coach Brown stays, he goes, I go.”

Yes, everything relates to Hoosiers.

* The other night I compared the current Wolves to the 1999 Kings. Felt pretty proud of myself for this historical analysis. Webber is Love, Rubio is Jason Williams, Vlade is Pek and now they even have the same coach, Adelman. That was also a strike-shortened season. The Kings went 27-23, a year after going 27-55. They lost in 5 to the Jazz in the opening round. Adelman was in his first season and completely turned the franchise around, helped by an entertaining rookie point guard, an up-and-coming power forward on the verge of greatness and a European center who looked like he smoked two packs a day. Sound familiar? These Wolves are missing a young Peja-type outside shooter. By the time those Kings fulfilled their potential in 2002, Williams was gone, replaced by the steady Mike Bibby. They made it all the way to Game 7 of the 2002 WCF before losing to the Lakers, although the Kings were only in it because of horrific refereeing in Games 2 and 5 (that is how history views that series’ reffing, right?)

I have a feeling by the time these Wolves reach their potential, Rubio will still be there. Will Love?

On Twitter, someone told me David Kahn himself made a comparison last year, although I don’t know if it was specifically with the 1999 team. Also, when he made it, the Wolves didn’t have Adelman on the bench. Am I an idea plagiarist, stealing from David Kahn? Moving on.

* The MVP chants that accompany players every time they go to the free throw line have gotten completely absurd. LeBron, Kobe, Wade, Love, Durant, Howard, Rose, Dirk, everyone hears them. It’s an epidemic. And now? Jeremy Lin, point guard sensation for the New York Knicks. It’s nice to the see the Knicks with a real point guard, who can perhaps rescue a season. He’s a great story and looks like a real player. He’s also started three games. I’m sure some of the people chanting it in Madison Square Garden did it ironically – perhaps they’re Brooklyn hipsters – but you know there were some fans who really believed it. They’re the loud-mouth New York fans you read about but don’t really believe exist. Perhaps it’s just legend, like Bigfoot. No, they’re real – like the two guys on the subway I overheard Tuesday debating whether these Giants compared to the 1980s 49ers. Actually they weren’t debating. Both believed it to be true. They’d take ’em against Montana and the boys. Both also probably believe Jeremy Lin’s an MVP candidate.

* Forget Blake Griffin’s dunk, here’s my favorite shot of the year, courtesy of DeSagana Diop.

* Right now it looks like the Heat and Thunder will meet in the Finals, though it’s hardly a certainty, not in this strange season. The Lakers? I still hold out hope, even as each bricked 3-pointer and defensive breakdown on the perimeter take it right away. But with Kobe, Bynum and Gasol they still have three players who can match up with most anyone, although with players like a fossilized Derek Fisher, World Peace, and Troy Murphy, they also have numerous players who match up with no one. But I still think they can win it all.

Christ, I’m a bigger homer than Heinsohn.

  1. Brent says:

    He wasn’t comparing the Kings/Timberwolves. Here’s the link to the summer league interview (don’t bother to watch the basketball – horrible!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGZebWRJWg4

    As much as I love the T-Wolves, I can’t stand listening to Kahn talk. I think if he was a all-action and no talk GM, he wouldn’t have 1/10th the hate.

  2. shawnfury says:

    Thanks for the link. “Modernized our players’ lounge. We have breakfast and lunch now, before and after practice.” It’s amazing they didn’t win the title last year with that meal plan.

    I also love the shots of Rambis, who somehow looks beleaguered, even during a Summer League game. And of course, Manna from heaven. And the passing skills. It took him two days to pick up the offense. A savant, I guess. Awesome.

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