This is a feature I do on my journal entitled This Week In Basquetbaal. I only have the patience to do it once a week, is why.
Each of the thirty teams in the NBA plays eighty-two games a season. Even a basketball freak does not have to watch every one. Sometimes, though, there are days at a time with games one simply must watch, one after another, unmissable. Sometimes, all the NBA news happens at once. It's lucky that it only happens a few times a season, because it's tiring. Wonderful, but tiring.
So that's the way this past week was. On Thursday was the previously mentioned Phoenix/Dubs game; then the All-Star Weekend; then the debut of Shaq, and Lakers/Suns; and the trade deadline was earlier today. They're lucky I'm not fond of sleep, or schoolwork.
-People say the All-Star Weekend doesn't matter anymore. They say it's boring, does not serve the fans, all of that. To which, I say: fuck you, you don't know what you're missing.
-I've heard they're thinking of having the weekend in New Orleans every year. This seems to me like a great idea - it's one of the few cities that would always welcome a massive party, it has the infrastructure for it, the weekend was good for its economy and morale, et cetera. Great idea all around. (I'm totally not saying this because my friend is maybe going to Tulane, and I could visit him in Februaries and see if I spot anyone tall, well-dressedtr and tattooed.)
-Dwight Howard is Jesus. A flying, giant, happy-go-lucky Jesus with disturbingly broad shoulders. And be "disturbing" I mean...well, you know me; you know what I mean. I'm ruining my succinctness, so let me repeat: Dwight Howard Is Our Savior.
-GERALD GREEN IS FREE. (See below.) Unsung hero, poor guy. But one good dunk does not a winner make. Which brings up the question: if Dwight Howard is Jesus, what does that make everyone else? Jameer Nelson is John, definitely. Hedo Turkoglu would be Peter, except that I'm sure he pulls more tail. Gerald Green...not Pilate, because he didn't win, not even close. I don't know. A Pharisee? Whatever. Birthday cake.
-Steve didn't really do much this Weekend. Still: STEEEVE! I enjoyed the fact that, everytime they sang "O Canada", they'd make sure to get a good shot of our resident Canadian looking patriotic. Could have called that one. Way to go, TNT.
-No, really, way to go, TNT. TNT always have the best NBA coverage, and I love the studio crew. It was kind of genius to have Kenny, Ernie and Chuck call the Rookie-Soph game, and in some ways I wish they'd called the ASG itself. Not really, though, because they weren't good announcers, exactly. Just very entertaining.
-Speaking of the JV game: AL. Oh, God, Al. He makes me feel all funny inside. He's just so special. I love that Charles loves him. He can be on my team. Er, I'll stop with the homerism now - I never pretended to be unobjective! - but let me just say: watching him run the floor with Mike Conley was kind of inspiring, and I can't wait to see him play with an actual point guard again. (See below.)
-The skills competition, except for the dunk contest, was a little bit meh. Jason Kapono's a shooter. Dirk and Steve could care less. Seven-footers (Tim Duncan and his Best Friend Forever, David Robinson) make threes and half-court shots. Deron Williams is amazing. Chris Paul is cuddly. D-Wade and J-Kidd may or may not have completely sucked. The end.
-The game, mistake-riddled as it was, was actually kind of good. It reminded me of Team USA, actually, which lately is a very good thing. They played like All-Stars, which is I guess all you can ask for after last year's fiasco. Watching Dwight Howard and LeBron alley-oop each other for several straight possessions was both humorous and satisfying, and I'm glad, in a way, that the East won - they may be in an entirely different league (D-League, maybe) than the Western conference, but at least they won the All Star Game, right?
-Did I mention Dwight Howard's dunks? I did? Okay. Just checking. Truly, I think Dwight Howard and Chris Paul can heal all the league's woes. Children - rookies and young guys, in this case - are our future, and the future of the NBA looks bright.
SUNS! ALSO LAKERS!
-Shaq did not exactly perform Shaq-fu, but he didn't look bad, either. Indeed, he looked like he cared, which is all that matters.
-I really think the biggest impact will be less about gaining Shaq, and more about losing Marion. I love Shawn Marion, but there was clearly something else going on there, and he wasn't the fit for the team that he should have been. He's happier being number two in shitty Miami than number three in blazing Phoenix. Which, whatever, his choice, but it still seems a bit odd.
-Whatever the reason, the Suns seem to be playing better without him. I would have loved for them to win against the Lakers - fickin' Lakers - but on reflection, it was kind of amazing for them to keep it so close.
-There are two elements to this thought of mine - that the Lakers are absurdly good, and that the Suns did not play that well last night. Steve played well, but not great. Leandro and Raja did not do well at all, going shit-for-something from behind the arc, and Raja - defender of Kobe - got knocked the fuck out by Shaq's meaty, head-level elbow. I was so worried for him, I swear, I made girly fearful noises. Really, it was only a surprise that it was that close.
-Maybe the media thinks that Kobe and Shaq is the story, but really: it's all about Kobe and Raja. Sometimes Raja wins, and Kobe goes 2-for-17; sometimes Kobe wins, and Raja gets no points at all. Either way, it's violent, hateful and always entertaining.
-Why, oh why would God let the Lakers have a dynasty again? Because, excepting divine intervention, that's what's going to happen. Kobe's getting older, but he's by no means falling apart - and in the meantime, they have a deep rotation of great young players, AND Pau Gasol, AND, soon, Andrew Bynum. God. Just...why. I mean...Farmar's young and good, they have Derek Fisher's cold-blooded ass, Sasha and Vladrad and Luke Walton play well, I, just...Fuckin' Lakers, man. Did you know, when Young Drew gets back they're going to have the tallest frontcourt in history? No words.
-Trades that happened that got press: Shaq to Suns, JKidd to Mavs, Gasol to Lakers. Trades that got less press: Mike Bibby to Atlanta, Kurt Thomas to Spurs. Trades that got no press: Gerald Green to Houston, TAUREAN GREEN to DENVER. Trades that happened today: a bunch of crap gets exchanged between Chicago, Seattle and Cleveland, Hornets trade somebody for somebody and Bonzi Wells. That's the important stuff.
-You know my feelings about Shaq to the Suns; Gasol to Lakers was an undeniable grand theft. JKidd to Mavs, though. Poor Dallas. This will not end well. Devin Harris is going to be the star young guard when the Nets move to Brooklyn, and play with LeBron James in a few years - and meanwhile, the Mavs, like the Suns and the Celtics, are in automatic WIN THIS YEAR HOLY CRAP mode. You can't split a championship between three teams, guys. Sorry. And now, I think, unless JKidd really gets his feet back under him (in an offense completely unlike anything he's ever run), they're not even going to sniff the Finals.
-Mike Bibby to Atlanta: YAY! A POINT GUARD! We'll see how he does, but come on. It's the East. A couple of weeks ago they were well under five hundred, and were the sixth seed in the playoffs. At this point, it's just a learning experience for the young, secretly talented Hawks - which, actually, applies to most of the East - and it's good for them to have Mike Bibby to play with while Acie Law IV matures into the great guard he's going to be.
-Good for Gerald Green. Maybe he'll get some actual PT. Whether he does or not, I'm sure he's glad to be out of Minnesota (wouldn't anyone be? Poor Corey. Poor C-Rich.) and back in his hometown of Houston. I mean, you see the tattoo of the Houston skyline he's got? That tattoo struck me as odd, for a couple of reasons: one, there's a small section of tall buildings in Houston, and the rest is flat; it's an uninspiring skyline overall; and that's where the rich white people live and work anyway. Odd. Cool, but a bit strange and unexpected. Hey - like Gerald Green! Vote Obama, G.
-TAUREAN IS IN DENVER. I mean, it's not usually a good sign to get traded so early in one's career - see Green, Gerald - but if a player can find a good situation, it's only a good thing. He may not get much minutes in Denver, I don't know. But he was going to get no minutes in Portland, what with Brandon R.O.Y and the glut of good young point guards they've got, so it has to be better for him in Denver. Plus: I'm a big homer for Melo and AI, and I've got a big soft spot for Kleiza and Najera. After the Warriors, they're probably my favorite team, so I'm glad I've got another excuse to watch their games.
-Ben Wallace is out of Chicago, hurrah! Maybe now Tyrus, Joakim and Thabo can actually play, which is good considering they're much, much better than Ben Wallace at this point. It doesn't even matter who else got traded. Big Ben is gone, and the Bulls have the young bigs, Kirk, Little Ben - I guess he can just be "Ben" now - and Deng, and they are going to be better than they are now. Which couldn't be hard, but really - they're going to hit their stride, I can feel it.
-Ultimately, there was good news for all my Gator Boys except for Corey and C-Rich. Al got a point guard; Joakim got freedom; Taurean got sent to Denver. Meanwhile, Corey and C-Rich are cold, lonely losers. I just want to hug them, seriously. At least they can go parka-shopping together.