Eric Todd: If you believe the reports (which in light of how much media posturing there has been up to this point, how can you completely?), it looks like we might not see an NBA game until January or later.

Watching (reading about) all this from afar, I can’t help but in some way relate it to the larger social/political unrest that has befallen the country in recent weeks. The timing is just too perfect.

Now, this isn’t to say I feel there is some grave injustice being perpetrated on the players. To be clear, everyone involved in this mess has a thousand times more money and opportunity than I will see in ten lifetimes. There are no have-nots in this particular play.

Nevertheless, it’s just hard not to see this in terms of workers vs. management, a game that management has never lost and thus one in which they must necessarily play the villain.

Personally, I’m not sure how to feel right now. Depending on the moment, I’m torn between wild, directionless fury and crushing ennui.

[read more…]

in conversations

Today is likely the biggest day professional basketball’s seen since Michael Jordan hung it up. As asinine and knee-jerk as that might feel at first glance, at what other moment in this sport’s history has the game teetered so delicately between prosperity and irrelevance? Even as hellfire rained in Detroit on that fateful night in 2004, no one paid enough attention to do anything other than dismiss that night as another example of those tattooed thugs further blemishing a game that had already been ruined by people who just weren’t and couldn’t be Magic, Larry and Mike. No, today’s proceedings will either present the NBA with its oh-so-necessary segway into a continuation of last year’s return to glory or provide the rest of the non-hoops-obsessed heads with a reason to once again bury the game that evokes such fickle bandwagon-ness already. And at such an important moment, only a $100 million strands between such terrifyingly divergent paths (and what’s a hundred million between ballers and billionaires, right?). Thankfully, each side of the lockout talks understands the gravity of this moment, and that’s why everything will be settled today. Right? [read more…]

in columns

via NBA Saturday: Bryant Dishes on Legacy, Teammates | HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors.

I haven’t been linking much stuff of late, but this was an absolute must-read:

Throughout the course of the lockout, Kobe Bryant has been busy playing in exhibition games, flirting with teams overseas and staying involved in the labor talks. However, Bryant took time out of his busy schedule on Thursday to speak to students in a UC Santa Barbara psychology class. He answered many questions from the students, and his responses were extremely candid and interesting.

Bryant discussed a number of topics, from his legacy to former teammates. When asked if he wants to be remembered as the greatest player of all-time, Bryant said it’s impossible for a player to hold that title.

“It’s not important to me,” Bryant said. “It’s impossible. Even with [Michael] Jordan, some people say he’s not the best ever. Some say it’s Magic [Johnson] or Bill Russell. That’s not a goal worth shooting for. I just want to win as many as I can.”

As a follow up, he was asked specifically about surpassing Jordan’s achievements. Bryant said that he can’t compare to Jordan because of how much he’s learned from the legend over the years.

“Of course, I want to win as many as I can so, by that alone, I’m chasing him,” Bryant said. “As long as I’m playing, I want to continue to win more. But it’s never been a direct competition between him and me though because he’s helped me a lot. He hates when I say it, but I’ll say it anyway: I call him and he calls me right back every time. We talk about things, that’s the kind of relationship we have. I’ve learned so much from him so we can’t have a debate about who is better. You know what I mean? He’s directly influenced me.”

Another player that Jordan has directly influenced is Carmelo Anthony, who also came up during the question and answer session. Bryant said that the Lakers were never close to acquiring Anthony at last year’s trade deadline, but that he would have been thrilled with the move. In fact, Bryant was asked which current player he’d most like to team up with and he chose Anthony.

“I would actually like to play with Melo.” Bryant said. “Championships are won on the inside and I’m always thinking about winning the title. I would love to play with Melo because I would know that I have an inside presence. That’s really been the biggest strength with our Lakers team. We have a lot of guys who can play in the post, and that’s how you win championships. I can post, Lamar [Odom] can post, Ron [Artest] can post, Pau [Gasol] can post and Andrew [Bynum] can post. Teams are usually lucky if they have one guy that can control the block. But yeah, I would love to play with Melo.”

While the Lakers have plenty of options in the post now, that wasn’t always the case. Before Gasol was donning purple and gold, Bryant had to play through one of the most frustrating years of his career in 2005. He averaged a career-high 35.4 points, but he didn’t have much help around him.

“I got to say, it was tough doing it that year. I was playing with guys – God bless them – but Kwame Brown, Smush Parker. By the way, what I say here, I say directly to them. I don’t talk behind people’s backs. The things that I say to you, I’m comfortable saying this to them and I’ve said this to them. But, like, the game before we traded for Pau, we’re playing Detroit and I had like 40 points towards the end of the game. This is back when Detroit had Rasheed [Wallace], Chauncey [Billups] and those guys so we had no business being in the game. Down the stretch of the game, they put in a box-and-one so I’m surrounded by these players, Detroit players, and Kwame is under the basket all by himself. Literally, like all by himself. So I pass him the ball, he bobbled it and it goes out of bounds,” Bryant said, rolling his eyes and slamming his hat on the table.

“We go back to the timeout and I’m pissed, right?” Bryant continued. “He goes, ‘Hey, I was wide open.’ ‘Yeah, I know.’ This is how I’m talking to him during the game. I said, ‘You’re going to be open again, Kwame, because Rasheed is just totally ignoring you.’ He said, ‘Well, if I’m open don’t throw it to me.’ I was like, ‘Huh?’ He said, ‘Don’t throw it to me.’ I said, ‘Why not?’ He said, ‘Well, I’m nervous. If I catch it and he fouls me, I won’t make the free throws.’ I said, ‘Hell no!’ I go to Phil [Jackson], I say, ‘Hey Phil, take him out of the game.’ He’s like, ‘Nah, let him figure it out.’ So, we lose the game, I go the locker room, I’m steaming. Steaming. I’m furious. Then, finally I get a call, they said, ‘You know what, we got something that’s happening with Pau.’ I was like, ‘Alright. Cool.’ The first game with Pau, we ran the pick-and-roll and I slipped him the ball. He catches it! I was like, ‘Yes!’ Then, he makes the shot! So, as I’m running back to the timeout, I’m screaming. I’m jumping on Pau’s back. It was like, ‘Oh, I have someone that can play.’ That’s what I had to deal with the whole year. And Smush, I’m not even going to get into that.”

in musings

NBA 2K12: A Tale of Due Respect

Three days ago, a beam of sunshine burst itself into the otherwise gloomy life of your average NBA fan. For a brief moment, the clouds parted, birds everywhere began to sing John Lennon’s “Imagine” in symphonic harmony, and the world was quiet, like a dimly lit living room on a sleepy Christmas morning. NBA 2K12 was released.

As more and more people have dove into the experience in recent years, the game has taken on a life of its own, stirring incessant, and somewhat meaningless, debate with routinely unjust team and player rankings. So powerful they are, in fact, that in the past, after playing previous versions of the game for hours on end, I’d step away with the following revelations: “That Josh Smith is really something—can’t wait to attend his Hall of Fame after party!” and “I didn’t know Peja Stojakovic was taller than Zydrunas Ilgauskas?!”

[read more…]

in essays

The NBA Lockout: There will be blood.

“I … drink … your …. milkshake! [sucking sound],” exclaimed Daniel Plainview in the scene of the movie that most reminds me of the 2011 NBA Lockout. The movie is P.T Anderson’s, “There Will Be Blood,” a dark look at the underbelly of the hyper competitive spirit of the oil soaked American wildcatter. [read more…]

in columns

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