Oh Josh. You poor, misguided soul. I write this response while enjoying some of the finer things; a glass of wine, the Soft Bulletin, and the San Antonio Spurs. I’ve come to bring you into the fold, into the Association. I understand that you’re hurt, and that emotions are running high and television standards low (TSN’s “That’s Hockey” is probably the most depressing half hour on television, not counting anything Whitney Cummings is involved with), but there’s no reason to lash out on our “bush league where the players rule a league that has no parity,” or on the English language for that matter. I am here with open arms.
First off, you’re right. There is no parity. And it is fucking fantastic. Yes, it makes for some atrocious regular season basketball (Phoenix at Charlotte was by no means an instructional video on how to elegantly play the game, but neither is Blue Jackets-Oilers). But with such high talent on the top teams you end up with some phenomenal drama come playoff time. If the Eastern Semis ends up with Miami, Boston, New York and Indiana playing each other and the Western Semis with the Thunder, Spurs, Lakers and Clippers, you will be able to see Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobli, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James all play basketball in just two nights (and also the Pacers will be there!). Not only is this possible, but probable! And then, then there are two more playoff rounds!
The NBA has long been dominated by stars, from the emergence of the league with Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell, to the legendary battles of Larry Bird’s Celtics and Magic Johnson’s Showtime Lakers in the 80s, to Michael Jordan dominating the 90s with the Chicago Bulls. And likewise, the teams that win have always had at least two superstars (or one and a half). Some examples: Magic had Kareem, Bird had McHale, Jordan had Pippen, Kobe had Shaq and then Pau, Duncan had Ginobli and Parker, the Pierce-Garnett-Allen-Rondo Celtics, Dwyane Wade with Shaq, Wade with Bosh and LeBron. On a rare occasion a player can carry his team on his back (see Nowitzki, Dirk, in the 2011 Finals), but history shows that you typically need two all-star caliber players to have a legitimate chance of winning the championship.
Clearly, this bothers some people (Dan Gilbert comes to mind). The LeBron James haterade has been overflowing since “The Decision” (which is the tackiest way to leave a city as a free agent – seriously, how goes this get okayed? Whoever green-lighted “The Decision” probably had something to do with “Jack and Jill.” Anyways…), but now that he has a championship ring the narrative has shifted. Funny how people can go from calling you a choke to debating whether you’re better than the greatest ever in the span of the year, but this is where we are at. If you do want to hate, though, come on board anyways. Watch any Oklahoma City Thunder game and just trash Russell Westbrook for everything he does, always; evidently it’s the new narrative.
But going back to LeBron, have you watched this man play basketball recently? When you consider how breathtakingly athletic his style of play is he almost seems alien. He’s a 6’8” 260 lbs monster who can cross you over, drain a jump shot, throw a no look pass, or post you up. In back to back nights last winter he effectively shut down Rajon Rondo (top tier PG) and then Pau Gasol (a top tier big man). Nobody does that. But LeBron did. After the Heat beat the Suns with 33 assists on 47 baskets to equal 124 points in Miami on Monday, Suns forward Jared Dudley said of the Heat: “I thought that was probably the most unselfish team I’ve ever played against since I’ve been in the NBA. It was drive, kick, swing, penetrate, flare, and they were hitting everyone. Even when someone had a good shot they would make an extra pass for someone to have an even better shot.” The man is a basketball savant; a van Gogh, a Beethoven, a Jordan. He is also a murderer (the groan from the stands at 1:47 is especially sweet).
Now, as for your fourth paragraph, are you watching these games? Because I am, and I have no idea what you’re talking about. Sure, the “crab dribble” sure looks a heck of a lot like traveling, but with dunks like these I find it hard to matter. Consider yourself cordially invited to my place anytime this year, you can show me when the players stop caring. I have NBA League Pass, so we can watch your Bucks-Bobcats game (featuring Eastern Conference Player of the Week Brandon Jennings), whenever it is. I hope you like the Flaming Lips.