The TVFury editorial committee got together last week for a three-day meeting where we came up with a plan. NBA starts this week. Let’s write about the NBA. Not just one day, but every day. Well, except for the weekend. And Friday is for our links section so it’ll be four days. But four days of NBA talk coming up on TVFury. Probably. Could be three. We’ll see.
Starting off, a little look at every team in the league. This more an appreciation than a preview. No sports league benefits more than the NBA from YouTube. Major League Baseball makes it nearly impossible to find videos and while the NFL is a bit better, it’s nothing compared to what’s out there for the NBA. Entire games, highlight packages, mixes, everything, from every era.
So let’s take a tour of the NBA with a look at 30 videos, one for each team. Yes, even the Bobcats.
Since about 1990 the Hawks have been one of the most boring teams in the league, pretty much without exception. Perhaps it’s the usually dead crowds or it’s just the fact the team has never been outstanding, is occasionally really bad but is normally just a bit above average. Good enough to win 45 to 50 games, not good enough to do anything in the playoffs. The final results were pretty much the same when Dominique Wilkins led the team. But boring? No.
Love this video of Larry Bird passing. Violently disagree with what it’s labeled: Larry Bird Greatest Passer of All Time. The only way that title is accurate is if Magic Johnson’s career is erased in a Lance Armstrong-like manner, forcing us to forget all the passes he made between 1979-91, with a few more in 1996. Why was Magic a better passer? Because he could do all the passes Bird did, whether it was the no-look behind the head pass or full-court heaves to streaking teammates. But Bird couldn’t pull off all of Magic’s passes. If you want to call Larry the second-best passer of all-time, great. Magic’s still at the top. Bird couldn’t make the fast-break passes from the middle of a fastbreak like Magic. He couldn’t make the long bounce passes that Magic made look routine. Magic saw angles that even Bird’s eyes missed. He manhandled the ball better, allowing him to hold it, fake it with one hand in one direction and dish to the other side. Still…great passer.
Even with all the criticism he’s gotten, I still feel Michael Jordan’s reign as an exec in Washington and Charlotte isn’t ridiculed enough. As great as he was as a player, that’s how bad he’s been as a talent evaluator. Kwame Brown and Adam Morrison. Start there, though it wouldn’t end there. And since we know Kobe Bryant always wants to follow Jordan — or one-up him — expect Kobe to be the GM of the 14-68 Cleveland Cavaliers in 15 years.
Still, Jordan was pretty good on the court.
Wanna shoot like Mark Price? He runs a shooting academy. It’s got seven courts, a weight room and a “Mark Price Shooting Lab,” where Price runs around in a white lab coat beating his brother Brent in games of H-O-R-S-E while Craig Ehlo stands off to the side engaging in self-flagellation as punishment for failure to stop Jordan in Game 5 of the 1989 opening round.
You don’t have to speak Spanish to understand what happens in this one (although it probably helps). This is the famous 1984 playoff game when Derek Harper dribbled out the clock, believing the Mavericks had the lead against the Lakers. Instead it was tied. He starts to run off in celebration, not realizing instead of going into the locker room the teams were going to overtime, where the Lakers won the game and, eventually, the series. Strangely, Magic made a similar mistake later in the playoffs, this time in Game 2 of the Finals against the Celtics. Magic didn’t think the Lakers were ahead but he did fail to pass the ball in time at the end of regulation. The clock ran out, the Celtics won in dramatic fashion and eventually won in 7 games in a series they had no business winning. I wish I could find a Spanish broadcast of that game; would be easier than listening to Heinsohn.
DENVER NUGGETS & DETROIT PISTONS
Detroit 186, Denver 184. Still absurd nearly 30 years later.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
Anyone else spend hours of their childhood trying to impersonate Jamaal Wilkes’ free throw form? Or Rick Barry’s? Come to think of it, these might be the two most-impersonated free throw motions in NBA history, although I’m not sure if anyone’s kept accurate records on that category. Shaq might be No. 3, especially popular among shot-putters and wrestlers who pick up a ball in phy ed and shoot a free throw.
After some bureaucratic debacles, it looks like my old man hoops league might still survive. When it does, I’ll have to break out the Hakeem fadeaway again. You’ve seen it used as well by Jordan and Kobe but I like to pattern mine after Hakeem. After seeing mine, Hakeem once told a reporter from Houston it was like looking in a mirror.
I was scared to look at the YouTube comments on this Detlef Schrempf video, fearing that there’d be some neo-Nazi basketball talk. And there was something horrible right away (I refused to look at more than one page). YouTube user lionelangemario said, “Yeah, it sounds incredible to say but he was everything Durant is plus he had more skills…was more complete…that tells a lot about the NBA has changed.” YouTube comments: Where even Yahoo! and newspaper website commenters refuse to go.
He flops, he’s not as good as Kevin Love. He whines on calls. And man are Blake Griffin’s dunks otherworldly and amazing to watch.
Few things about this Magic video, which I’ve seen 1,784 times but you might be watching for the first time.
1. Love how precise Chick Hearn was with the distance of the shot.
2. The lady in the front row, along the sideline, white pants and shirt. The shot goes in and she puts her head down into her hands in shock.
3. Magic’s reaction. Hardly celebrates. Was probably mad the horrible Bullets were that close.
4. The little boy just past the 45-second mark who is jumping up and down and spinning, also in shock.
5. Arsenio Hall and Charlie Sheen celebrating. Imagine the party that night. Or, if you’re a religious person or even just someone who believes in a higher power and doesn’t want to think about mountainous amounts of cocaine being snorted off the stomachs of prostitutes, don’t.
When I was a sophomore at Worthington Community College basketball, our assistant coach was a guy my age whose dad was an assistant at Mitchell in South Dakota (Corn Palace!). He talked about a freshman at Mitchell who was already amazing and was going to only get better. Sure, sure. That kid was Mike Miller. Coach Johnson was right.
Loved watching Glenn Rice shoot. Tried imitating his motion as a kid when he was at Michigan. Then he finally got to the Lakers later in his career and was something of a disappointment. In the 2000 Finals, his wife complained to the press about Phil Jackson’s treatment of Rice. He did not return.
A coin toss gave the Milwaukee Bucks the right to draft Lew Alcindor. Phoenix lost out. Not that it altered those two franchises much.
I’m going to write later in the week about the Wolves, but of all the things I’m looking forward to this NBA season — the new-look Lakers, Durant’s dominance, LeBron possibly somehow even getting better, the old Celtics holding on — there’s nothing I’m as excited about as seeing the first no-look assist from Ricky Rubio, whether it comes in December or January.
NEW JERSEY NETS — ER, BROOKLYN NETS
If you missed it in the spring, check out our guest post from Rich Jensen about the Nets’ new logo.
NEW ORLEANS HORNETS
So the team in New Orleans at the time of this game was called the Jazz and would soon be in Utah, but Pistol Pete was a Louisiana guy and this belongs in a Louisiana section.
NEW YORK KNICKS
I can’t imagine what it was like being a Lakers fan in the 1960s and into the ’70s. You had the defeats against the Celtics, year after year after year. Then, in 1970, the Celtics aren’t in the finals. It’s the Knicks. And Willis Reed gets hurt. Doesn’t matter. Lakers lose again, in a humiliating Game 7 defeat. Jerry West is Mr. Clutch but imagine him playing in today’s Twitter world. Think of the invective against a guy who lost eight times in the Finals.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
Sure, Durant is good. But he’s no Detlef Schrempf.
Shaquille O’Neal’s grudge against Dwight Howard is ridiculous and petty. Still, his general point, which can get lost in the buffoonishness, is correct: Dwight is no Shaq.
I disliked the Sixers in the 1980s but not to the extent I hated the Celtics or Pistons. But in the early ’80s the Lakers and Sixers met three times. Lakers won twice, Sixers swept them in 1983 behind Moses Malone. Still, I always enjoyed old games at the Spectrum. The fans were right there, the court looked cool. And how good was Chick Hearn? How many plays, in any sport, is the most famous narration by the announcer for the losing team? But Chick’s call of Dr. J’s dunk on Cooper lives on.
This famous Kevin Johnson dunk might actually be a bit underrated on the all-time dunk scale. Yes, it was great because he was short. But he dunked on Hakeem, who might have been the best defensive center ever (non-Russell division). This wasn’t someone turning Shawn Bradley into a puddle under the basket. This was Hakeem, being turned into Shawn Bradley.
Everyone knows Portland’s history with centers. Walton, Bowie, Oden. People forget they drafted two other centers No.1 overall, LaRue Martin and Mychal Thompson. Martin was a total bust. Thompson wasn’t a bust. He actually played, unlike Walton and the other two, but he was never dominant and made his greatest mark as a witty reserve with the Lakers. The days of the dominant center seem to be over. But say another phenom does appear on the scene, a 7-foot dominating force. And somehow the Blazers again have the top pick. This guy is a can’t-miss. He’s going to be better than Shaq. Is there anyway the Blazers would take him? Probably. “I mean, what are the odds it’d happen again, right?”
I’m all for a Vlade Divac tribute video. Loved him when he came into the league with the Lakers, love that the Lakers got Kobe Bryant for him, even liked him in all his flopping glory with the Kings. That doesn’t mean I think “The World’s Greatest” should be the song used on a Vlade tribute.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS
We already know how the Spurs season will go. They start off a bit slow, Tim Duncan looks like he’s 88 years old. Parker is hurt. Then they win 12 in a row and everyone writes about how you can’t write them off. They lose a few and win 10 in a row again. They get the No. 1 seed, maybe the second. People start talking about how they’ve been unappreciated for so long, even though they’re appreciated just fine. Then they lose in the second round of the playoffs.
Hey, there’s someone dunking on Shawn Bradley.
Sports Illustrated has a good story in the new issue about the prevalence of the pick and roll in the NBA. It’s the dominant play now, nearly impossible to stop. Everyone runs it (well, except for the Lakers under Mike Brown, who probably won’t have them do it even with the best in the game in Steve Nash and one of the best rollers in Dwight Howard). But still, no one runs it any better than Stockton and Malone, who can still infuriate fans today, Stockton because of his short-shorts, Malone because of his cheap shots.
This is from that show on NBA TV I’ve written about before, which is the I Love The ’80s for the NBA. And is terrible.
Fortunately, to borrow a phrase from the NBA in the 1980s, the league is still fantastic.