Thursday, October 26, 2006


So… the NBA Season is almost upon us! Hooray! And who better than Pirate-Man to join us with such palpable excitement in the air!

How do I love the NBA?
Let me count the ways …

Oh.. since we’re all in such a good mood, let’s just pretend you wrote “How much do I love the NBA” and used good grammar.

1. Parity. The dynasty era is probably -- hopefully -- over, replaced by a league of very good teams with exquisitely unique profiles.

Umm. The league did have very good teams during the “dynasty era.” See the Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Dallas Mavericks, Minnesota Timberwolves, Utah Jazz, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors, New Jersey Nets, Charlotte/NO Hornets and Indiana Pacers none of whom won an NBA title. Then again, I guess none of them had “exquisitely unique profiles.”

As of right now, no fewer than 10 of them -- yes, one-third of the field -- have a legitimate shot at making it to June if things break right.

Right… except that I just named 10 teams above all had a legitimate chance of making it to June as well.

2. Style. For the first time since the end of the Showtime Lakers, the league is trending sharply toward offense, with five shooters on the floor being a requisite.

It’s really mystifying as to where NBA Article Writers came up with this offense trend notion. Honestly, which team other than the Suns has five shooters on the floor? Or even four shooters… or three?

That means control-freak coaches can't strangle the life out of the game. It also means 10-point leads in the fourth quarter don't feel like 25-point leads.

Yes, that’s due to the fact that 10≠25. In fact, get this, 25>10 (!!!).

3. The gang of '03. It isn't often that the same rookie class produces two transcendent players, as was the case in 1979 (Larry/Magic) and 1984 (M.J./Hakeem). But LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have given the game a seismic jolt -- and a rivalry that will be played out over a decade.

Unrelated side note: Did you know that the New Jersey Nets drafted a guy named Clifford Robinson in 1979? Fast-forward 27 years to today where another Clifford Robinson plays for, that’s right, the New Jersey Nets.

Back to the story:

1981: Isiah Thomas/Rolando Blackman
1982: James Worthy/Dominique Wilkins
1985: Patrick Ewing/Joe Dumars
1987: David Robinson/Reggie Miller
1992: Shaquille O’Neal/Alonzo Mourning
1993: Chris Webber/Sam Cassell
1994: Jason Kidd/Grant Hill
1995: Kevin Garnett/Rasheed Wallace/Jerry Stackhouse

1996 deserves its own special indentation. How could you possibly have missed this year???

Allen Iverson
Kobe Bryant
Ray Allen
Steve Nash
Peja Stojakovic
Jermaine O’Neal
Zydrunas Ilgauskus

Yes, that's Kobe #@@%’n Bryant AND Allen $#@$%’n Iverson!!

1997: Timothy Duncan/Tracy McGrady
1998: Vince Carter/Dirk Nowitzki/Paul Pierce
1999: Elton Brand/Steve Francis/Baron Davis/Andrei Kirilenko
2002: Yao Ming/Amare Stoudemire

One word: PWND.

4. Amare's back. By now it is clear that microfracture surgery requires a two-year recovery, give or take a few months, so Amare Stoudemire cannot yet be the awesome specimen who was last seen dominating the 2005 playoffs. But he's going to be pretty close to it by the spring.

Yes.. so… you’re thankful that Amare isn’t going to be as good as he used to be. Cool…

5. Nellieball. Don Nelson has returned, somehow weary of his daily diet of mai tais and poker parties, and he's ready to have some fun for once.

Haha, good one. It’s shocking how you became a professional NBA Article Writer instead of a comedian.

Golden State will play fast and loose and very small -- as many of Nellie's teams have -- and he has a superb talent pool to work with this time.

“Nellie” this year has: (injured?) Baron Davis, Jason Richardson, Troy Murphy.
“Nellie” of yesteryear had: Steve Nash, Michael Finley, Dirk Nowitzki.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going with the second one no matter how many “superb talent pool” points the first one has.

6. The All-Star Game. It will be in Vegas. Perfect: For the first time ever, the most garish sports event in America (it's starting to make the Super Bowl look like Tuesday bingo at St. Lucy's) will be held in the tackiest place in America.

The All-Star Game is “starting to make the Super Bowl look like Tuesday bingo at St. Lucy's.” Cool. Keep this in mind, readers. Pirate-Man loves the NBA All-Star game to the point where he taunts the Super Bowl just to make his point clear. Nothing wrong about that… but just keep this in mind.

7. Grant's Mountain. This could turn out to be one of those alternate universe deals, but Grant Hill actually has become the most physically fit player on Orlando's roster.

This is the same thing as saying “Damon Stoudemire has turned out to be the most drug-free player on the Portland Trailblazers.” Or “David Eckstein was the grittiest player on the Anaheim Angels.”

If he stays that way, and the kids undergo another growth spurt, it could be Magic.

Yeah, great play on words. Like “Magic” and the Orlando “Magic.” That’s beautiful.

8. Globalization. No matter what country you're from -- OK, if you're from Iceland, go play chess -- you have somebody to root for. And, everyone agrees, the European emphasis on skills has enhanced the game.

“European emphasis on skills.” Haha. It’s all about the Andrea Baloney guy. Damn Americans.

9. Short stuff. For those of us who were victims of genetic oversight, behold: For significant stretches each night, this will be a game of short people because every team recognizes the need to be able to go with a speed lineup.

The average NBA player height is 6’7”, up from 6’6” the last two years. Owned. Also, a “speed lineup” is the random assortment of bench players coaches throw onto the court for the last two seconds of every quarter to let the starters sit early.

And every one is a tribute to the greatest invention of the 21st century: the no-touch rule on the perimeter.

We are all “tributes” to the no-touch rule? ... What? Anyone else have any idea what this means?

10. Shaq. He is the greatest big man of this or any other era, and if you don't believe it, please refer back to Reason No. 1. It took his decline to make this a balanced, anything-goes league again. He'll be 35 in March -- enjoy him while you can.

Reason number one… Ah. Yes. “1. Parity. The dynasty era is probably -- hopefully -- over, replaced by a league of very good teams with exquisitely unique profiles.”

So, I take it that you think Shaq didn’t have an exquisitely unique profile. Mr. O’Neal begs to differ. 300+ pounds of 99.99999 body fat is quite an “exquisitely unique profile.”

Sometimes love does mean having to say you're sorry.

So you’re going to tell us why you dislike the NBA in an article that’s supposed to tell us how you love the NBA. Fantastic.

1. Drop the noise. There's nothing wrong with music, but on behalf of middle-aged people from Seattle to Miami, can we drop the damn decibel level a few notches, please?

Middle-aged people… I love that. Who do you think you're kidding. You're probably like 90. Or 900.

(Lone exception: Springsteen.) And there's nothing wrong with enthusiastic P.A. announcers, but can they stop talking to us like we're 9 years old?

Maybe if you stopped writing like a 9 year old, they might.

Speaking of which …

2. Change the TV culture. The boorish mix of TV "talent" appeals to none other than executive producers, who want us to share their love for this gnarled mass of incoherent slobber.

What… the… hell. I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Maybe it's like a twist on that old Frank Zappa line: Most basketball journalism is people who can't report interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't think.

See above.

We're inundated with fawning noisemakers with monomaniacal obsessions to hear their own voices, yet none of these networks can find a regular studio spot for sharp guys such as David Aldridge?

I thought David Aldridge worked for ESPN? No?


That was probably the most confusing paragraph I’ve ever read in my life. From what I understood… you’re complaint about that National Basketball Association is that we should “change the TV culture.” Ooookay… then.

3. Shift the balance. The Board of Governors should tweak the schedule to emphasize rivalries -- just for one season, to see how it works out. One reason: Division alignments don't mean anything anymore, and nobody really circles the calendar for Toronto-Charlotte or Portland-Dallas.

Basically, if we implemented your plan, instead of Toronto-Charlotte we would get stuff like Charlotte-Orlando. Or Philadelphia-Atlanta. Not pretty.

Solution: Cut back on the number of games between nondivision opponents within the same conference (from four games to three), then take the six leftover games and turn them into intradivisional matchups. It would save on travel, make home-and-home sets more common and elevate enmity.

Also, it would replace good matchups like Dallas-Phoenix with games like Portland-Seattle or Charlotte-Philadelphia. I can only speak for myself, but honestly, I think if I had to watch Victor Crap Khrap Khyrap, er, Victor K. face off against Robert Swift on back to back nights, I would strangle myself. No matter how much enmity they exhibit.

On second thought …

4. Cut the schedule entirely. Not a lot, just seven or eight games. Get the playoffs started by early April, finished by early June. These long seasons are beginning to cut into WNBA viewing time.

W.N.B.A… wow. I can only pray that this is a joke. Somehow, I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t.

5. All-Star Game. Take it overseas for a week -- Paris, Rome, it doesn't matter. The American media no longer cares about it -- the print guys can't stand it, actually -- and this would play into the league's compulsive need for world attention.

Yes I’m sure the Roman/French press would love to cover an event that includes either one player of their nation (T. Parker if it was in Paris) or zero. This would be analogous to Sweden holding its annual women’s 70 and over Croquet Championship in Los Angeles. Or something.

As for logistics, there's only one snag: The Friday night events would need to start at 3 a.m. to satisfy TNT's sponsors.

Dang. You’re smart and you’re funny.

6. All-Star Game, etc. Have I mentioned it's a yawner? Try this, just once: No money for the losers, and take a page from baseball by rewarding home-court advantage in The Finals to the winners. Then maybe you'll see a real game.

I seriously doubt the day will ever come when NBA Article Writers World Wide realize that the All-Star Game is played for this thing called “fun.” Like when players and fans “have a good time.”

In fact, the All-Star Game is pretty awesome in its current state. One could say it’s so good that it’s “starting to make the Super Bowl look like Tuesday bingo at St. Lucy's.” I wonder who could have said that quote. Sounds awfully familiar.

7. The draft. Another one-year experiment:

This just in: The NBA is not your personal laboratory to perform whatever experiments your warped mind can concoct. In fact, you’re just an NBA Article Writer who must chronicle what happens in the NBA, and not dictate what should happen.

Change the draft lottery to give all 30 teams an equal chance to win it. That's right: one pingpong ball apiece, national TV drawing. Why keep rewarding mediocrity? And why not remove the trend of teams tanking in March and April because they're in the hunt for the top pick?

Why not shut up?

8. Rule tweak. Breakaway fouls should result in two free throws, the ball and a full shot clock.

So… you think a breakaway foul (which is normally just a touch or soft grab) should receive a greater punishment than a Type III Flagrant Foul. Absolutely brilliant.

Anything that is a disincentive to fouling is a plus; anything that creates more open-court stuff also is a plus.

Ladies and germs, The Pinnacle Of NBA Journalism Has Been Achieved. “Open court stuff” FTW.

Dave D'Alessandro covers the NBA for The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J.

And It Is Dave D’Alessandro, Also Known As Pirate Man, Who Has Enabled Us To Reach This Shining Zenith Of NBA Article Writing.