Yes, it’s true…the NBA has just recently turned the corner on its midway point, leaving everyone’s preseason predictions fading in the rearview as the hard truths of the season have begun to reveal themselves.
And now that they have, please allow me to offer an industrial-sized bucket full of my sincere and heartfelt Mia Culpa’s, Mia Farrows, Mamma-Mia’s and “Ay Dios Mio’s” from the wreckage of my own pompous
As anyone who has ever made any kind of loud public gamble knows, being right feels a little bit like hearing that first “yes” from the lips of that person you’ve been dying to ask out or, at the very least, it’s close to the sensation of easing your $h*t-sore body into a warm Jacuzzi on a cold night.
But, being wrong?
I liken that feeling to the embarrassing soul-tickle that you have in your gut while dreaming about walking naked down the crowded hallway of your old high school, only to realize that you’re not really dreaming. I also call this sensation “Broussarding,” in honor of NBA “expert” Chris Broussard, which is the art of speaking out of about 20% knowledge and another 80% out of your @$$.
In any case, I’m not about to go for the full rehash, but I am prepared to take the lumps I deserve and maybe give myself tiny little pats on the back on the rare occasion that I might have been right (uh, hello…didn’t you read…I’m Broussarding!).
Would You Like Some Ketchup With That?:
Okay, I am in full “nom, nom, nom” mode with respect to the Phoenix Suns being far better than I thought. But, in my defense, how could I know that a bunch of good players would play well for a good coach? Duh! Okay, fine…down the hatch. The Atlanta Hawks have also been much better than I imagined, and I made that brilliant call even before they lost Al Horford. I’m also going to have to eat the big one on the Portland Trailblazers (better), the New Orleans Pelicans (worse), and while I’m swallowing crap, I might as well choke down some New York Knicks, who I predicted were going to be nothing better than first round fodder, but now may not even make the Playoffs, even in the kitten-weak East.
They Are Who We Thought They Were:
The Los Angeles Lakers reek, the Boston Celtics suck and the Chicago Bulls unraveled right along with the knee of their franchise, Derrick Rose. The Denver Nuggets have lost their glitter, there’s no Magic in Orlando and the Philadelphia 76ers have been just about eighty-sixed from the Playoff conversation. And, while the Dallas Mavericks are playing above expectations with the arrival of Monta Ellis and the resurgence of Dirk Nowitzki, I’m still not convinced that they’ll be anything more than a one-and-done if they make the Playoffs.
Waiting for the Jury:
While, technically, the Brooklyn Nets should be on the first list, they have been playing better since Christmas and I am a firm believer in hope. That, and since I’ve already whiffed on more predictions than Harold Camping and his doomsday cult, I need to shift some blame here. I am also not quite ready to call in the beavers to build up a dam and stop my stream of hope for the Detroit Pistons and Minnesota Timberwolves. And, finally, I’m also not sure I can put all my chips on the Oklahoma City Thunder who, though currently looking great, will still face stiff competition to get to the Finals, even with Kevin Durant playing so far out of his mind that he needs a shrink and proper medication, and despite the emergence of guard Reggie Jackson, or the eventual return of Russell Westbrook.
All-Star Reserve Selections Less Than Stellar
And, while we’re on the subject of predictions and picks, who was the total jack@$$ who stupidly suggested all of that “give control to the coaches” garbage with respect to selecting the entire All-Star team?
Oh, yeah, that’s right…it was me. Well, I’m about to put on my special “consummate politician” business suit and say that I was for it until I was against it.
Hey, I have zero illusions about the fact that the NBA (and much of professional sports these days, for that matter) is more about entertainment than true competition. And, I know that if the regular season is the equivalent of popcorn and beer, then the All-Star Game is straight sugar soda and pure cotton candy. But, look…if you’re gonna do this thing at all, then do the damn thing right. Why don’t we recognize the players who are playing at an All-Star level and reward them, regardless of their team’s winning percentage or nostalgia over a great career that’s hitting the downslope.
While I don’t have much complaint about the selection of Dirk Nowitzki or Tony Parker fundamentally, either one of those guys could and probably should, have been pushed aside in favor of Sacramento King, and royal pain in the @$$, DeMarcus Cousins. See, I can completely understand people not wanting to reward boorish behavior with an All-Star slot, but there’s no way that we can even remotely pretend that only the “good guys” get chosen (hey, Jason Kidd; w’sup, Kobe Bryant; what’s goin’ on, Ron Artest, Dennis Rodman, Allen Iverson and Bill Laimbeer…need I go on?). So, eliminating the $h*thead factor from the selection equation, I find it hard to believe that a 6-10 power forward averaging almost 23 points per game, nearly 12 boards, 3 assists, almost two steals and a block doesn’t get a nod. Especially when Nowitzki (with 22 ppg and 3 assists, but only half the rebounds, .06 blocks and one less steal) and Parker (who only beats either of the two in just one category – assists – and, even so, only by three) failed to match Cousins across the board.
But, as tasteless as the Cousins snub is, it’s the coaches’ selections for the Eastern Conference reserves that really have my socks in a roll (what? I don’t wear knickers!).
I’m not going to waste too much more space talking about the great unfairness of it all, but, the Miami Heat’s Chris Bosh and the Chicago Bulls’ Joakim Noah over the Pelicans’ Anthony Davis and Charlotte Bobcats’ Al Jefferson? Seriously?!? Okay, I’m willing to let the minor snub of the Bobcats’ Kemba Walker go. He is on the proverbial “losing team” and he’s contending with a TON of worthy guards (of course one of them really shouldn’t have been the Nets’ Joe Johnson, but I digress). The numbers speak for themselves: Bosh is 44th in the League in rebounds and 45th in scoring. He’s not even top 20 in blocks and Noah’s barely in the top 20 himself. Anthony Davis? He’s averaging 20 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks and almost two steals for crying out loud. And Big Al’s got almost 22 points per game (double Noah’s average) and one fewer rebound. Maybe Bosh and Noah’s addition to the team was some kind of tribute to new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver with the coaches trying to suck up by picking some of his favorites. Who knows?
And, one final note on the flipside before I go…I’m sorry, Lance Stephenson. I’m sorry, because I hear that you’re all upset that you weren’t selected as an All-Star this year. I know, I know…you’re on the top team in the Eastern Conference with the Indiana Pacers and you’re even averaging a really swell, almost Hall of Fame-worthy 14 points, 7 boards and 5 assists. Really, kid? Look, I don’t want to pour water on your Xbox or make you lose your LEGOs, but your teammate Roy Hibbert – a TRUE All-Star-worthy player – had to wait to get selected by the coaches to make the team for Christ’s sake! For perspective, last year, the Boston Celtics’ Paul Pierce didn’t make the team with a season average of 20 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals and he’s headed to the Hall of Fame with a Championship under his belt!
So, here’s what I suggest you do, kid: dry your eyes, wipe your nose, eat your Wheaties and then ZIP IT!! Then, maybe when you grow your game up over more than just the two years that you’ve been in the League – the way your very deserving teammate Paul George has done – maybe you’ll make the team.
In the meantime, how about you get back to work and help your teammates get past the Heat this year?