Thursday, July 27, 2006

Looking Back at 2005-2006, 1st Edition

With NBA action slowed to a crawl this summer, here's the first edition in looking back at the stupidest articles of 2005-2006 one by one. First up, one of the countless articles bemoaning the supposed death of the NBA.

"Death of the Team Hurts NBA." Jeff Greer. April 11, 2006

The NBA playoffs are fast approaching, and that can only mean one thing: It's time to turn your televisions off.

Let's see what insanely illogical arguments you can cook up to support this.

That is, if you aren't a big fan of one-on-one possessions, two-month playoffs and dulled-down talent. Still, many fans hang on, finding solace in the perfect teams that reach the later rounds in the playoffs every year (see: the Spurs and the Pistons).

First of all, what's wrong with a two-month playoff? Nobody's asking you to watch every single round, let alone every single game- forget that you even get paid to watch and write about these games and still complain. Second, how in the world can you justify the "dulled-down" talent comment? Gilbert Arenas, Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant... the list could go on forever. When has there been more talent? Finally, the "perfect teams reach later rounds" comment is completely baseless. I remember a certain team winning 6 championships in the 90's with literally one player. Or how about that other team that won 3 championships with literally 2 players? I'm sure they weren't"perfect" in your estimation.

I remember discussing the NBA with my dad, a diehard fan through the years. My old man reminisced about the days of old, when teams like the Celtics, Lakers, Pistons, Rockets, Suns and 76ers used their nucleus of players --- players that formed a family with one another --- to reach legendary levels of NBA history.

Yeah, too bad we won't be seeing any more legendary teams ever again, on account of the fact that players won't form families any more... it certainly brings a tear to your eye, doesn't it?

How did they do it?

With their family formation, obviously.

They did it by getting up and down the floor, scoring in transition, finding the open guy and making the extra pass. They did with last-second heroics and full-tilt hustle. They did it with passion.

How I wish teams would get up and down the floor and score in transition these days... I mean it's now a full quarter or so in between alley oop dunks on the break. How awesome, how high flying the glory days of your old man must have been. And you know what I miss the most? It's that full-tilt hustle. Not just ordinary hustle. But full-tilt. When Allen Iverson goes to the floor for a loose basketball and five 250 pound guys land on him, he's just not doing it with enough passion. Nothing whatsoever when compared with the New York Knickerbockers' inspiring defense on Wilt Chamberlain on that fateful day. I mean, five defenders were nearly touching him (!) and he still made the shots. Now that is really the definition of full-tilt.

Then came Michael Jordan and NBA fans forgot about teamwork and group efforts and began remembering a single player's number.

Great idea. Blame the greatest player in the history of the game for ruining the NBA.

Michael Jordan --- one of the greatest athletes of all time and certainly the most famous basketball player ever --- took basketball and turned it into an individual's game.

Whoa. You describe MJ as one of the "greatest athletes" and "famous players"? No mention of basketball ability whatsoever? Oh yeah, wait a minute, he was a terrible basketball player. Who are we kidding, anyway. It's all his fault. That stupid, famous, athletic guy.

Now we see guys like Ricky Davis toss the ball off his own team's backboard with no one around to collect his 10th rebound and post a triple-double for his own benefit. We see Kobe Bryant take 45 shots or the Cavaliers stand around and watch as LeBron James attempts to break down the five opponents guarding him.

So Ricky Davis' selfish behavior is a direct consequence of Michael Jordan's athleticness/fame. I would have never guessed. Kobe taking 45 shots? No way, what does he think he's going to do, score 80?

There is nothing wrong with the spectacular talent these players possess. In fact, nothing is more exhilarating or exciting than watching some of the world's finest athletes go head-to-head in a battle of egos.

Hey, watch out, generally you don't argue against yourself when trying to make a point, however idiotic.

But somewhere along the line, the fans lost their way. They lost interest in the games and lost interest in their cities' team.

Really? I would argue that it's you who lost the way somewhere along the line. As well as, apparently, your mind.

A lot of fans will tell you that they only watch college hoops these days. The NBA is too slow for them, they don't relate to the new faces of the league and they don't like the illusion of laziness that NBA players put across.

Illusion of laziness? This conjures up the following (imaginary) scene.

Shaun Livingston (apprentice) dives for a loose ball.
Cassell (master): Hey, you don't look lazy enough.
Livingston lies down on court.
Cassell: That's better.
Fan #1: Look at that lazy guy. Let's go watch some college hoops where the guys dribble around for 35 seconds and fire ridiculous heaves at the bucket from 30 feet away.
Fan #2: Yeah, you're right dude, I can't relate to these new faces anyways.

This is problematic. People want to see scoring. People want to see fast breaks. People want to see dunks and 3-pointers, alley-oops and fluid offenses. They want to see something different.

Please define "people." For all I know, two natives in some Amazonian rainforest could be offering live animals in a ritual in an attempt to "see something different."

If they want to watch fundamental basketball, they'll watch college or high school basketball. The NBA has slowed down its games, extending the 3-point line, allowing zone defenses while calling continuation fouls when LeBron James gets fouled at halfcourt and somehow converts an and-one lay in.

Blame that athlete guy who was famous.

The NBA needs to relax a little bit. They need to contract and really condense the talent. If teams have legitimately stacked lineups, then the games will be more interesting.

One of your earlier proclamations was that the San Antonio Spurs were a "perfect team." In my estimation, any team that starts Rasho Nesterovic at center is as far from perfect as is physically possible.

No offense, David Stern, but the prospect of a starting lineup that includes Steve Blake, Juan Dixon, Viktor Khryapa, Zach Randolph and Joel Pryzbilla playing for their 60th loss of the season doesn't entice me to tune in to any Blazers games.

Who is !#$@## telling you to watch the Portland Trail Blazers?!!! You write this entire article as if somebody has a gun to your head and a TV in front of you permanently tuned to games of teams which seemingly bore you the most.

I also don't think watching the Washington Wizards in the playoffs --- a team with a lineup that features Jared Jeffries and Brendan Haywood --- is something I want to do for two weeks of my summer.

Anyone that does not want to watch Gilbert Arenas play is either crazy or a Golden State Warriors fan. I'm going with the first one, considering your distaste for "non-perfect" teams.

In the playoffs, the lower seeds no longer have a shot at upsets. The five-game, first-round series are gone, replaced by the two-week, seven-game sets that weed out the upset specials.

Yet another horrible argument. This is getting positively sickening (but still fun.) A bad team loses to a very good team regardless of whether one plays 5 or 7 games. Period.

Put together a league that has potential for upsets and potential for excitement. Put together a league that features 10 to 15 teams with solid lineups. I want teams that have five all-stars in their starting rotation.

Quite the greedy little fellow, aren't you? 15 teams with 5 all-stars in their starting rotation?!!! Are you mad? 15 x 5 = 75. 75 all-stars. Think about that. There are about 300 players in the NBA. You want 75 of them to be All-Stars.

Currently, the Pistons and Spurs are really the only teams that we can count on for that in today's NBA.

Oh my. You just commented earlier how the Spurs and Pistons were the "perfect teams" due to their passing and all that good stuff. And now you commend them for having all-stars (of which their starting lineups are not entirely composed, by the way) whom you said were ruining the game with one-on-one play?

As a league with actual rules on salaries and fairness, the NBA needs to produce a product similar to the NFL. The NFL makes its game marketable with parity, giving arguably 12 to 15 cities a year a decent shot at making the Super Bowl. If the NBA could guarantee competitiveness in 12 cities, the fan base would explode.

12 to 15 cities a year can win their conference in the NFL? WhaaAA? Please, please, please tell me you meant 12 to 15 cities a year have a decent shot of making the playoffs. That's what you meant... right?

NBA games are fun to go to. The entertainment during breaks excites the little kids, the raw talent attracts legitimate basketball fans and the nice atmosphere --- in most arenas --- makes for a quality night of fun. But the fact that only three or four teams have an actual chance to win anything makes the season seem almost pointless.

You apparently are not, nor have ever been a fan of any team. (Well, excluding the all-powerful "perfect" ones of course, on whose bandwagon you have clearly jumped.)

So bring back the days of old, Mr. Stern. Bring us eight teams, 10 teams, maybe even 15 teams that can compete every year. Make the playoffs shorter. Give us five-game series and seven games in nine days. And, of course, don't allow Isiah Thomas to be anyone's general manager.

Here's a better idea. Invent a time machine, go back to 1985 and make sure that that conniving, two-timing, no good athletic/famous guy never gets the chance to dirty the pure, perfect, 75 player All-Star roster boasting National Basketball Association of yesteryear. Seriously. It's our only hope to ever see even a glimmer of that full-tilt hustle. And let's not even get into the passion.

Just save the NBA. Because at this time of year, the only other sport on television that has exciting potential in the playoffs is the NHL. Please don't make me watch the NHL.

Please, Mr. Stern. I have half the necessary equipment here, ready to donate. Just arrange for 2 billion dollars worth of investment money. You're our last hope. Just make sure you get that time machine built at all costs.


Jeff Greer intends to waste half of his summer watching the NBA playoffs. Do you? E-mail him at

Jeff Greer, congratulations on your inductance to the Bill Walton Hall of Fame. We knew you could do it.