The NBA season has begun. Which means — yaaaa, Norm — it’s time for a list. Or, as I prefer to think of it, a post without transitions.
- NBA vs. baseball. No contest. Glad Kansas City won the World Series. The photos of the parade there, all those baby blue-clad Royals fans — holy criminy, this is unbelievable — were awesome. I think I saw, total, six minutes of the World Series. Two pitches. Once the NBA began … no contest.
- This is me watching the NBA: Basic play in the Knicks-Cavaliers game tonight. Mo Williams, the Cleveland point guard, goes from the left side and drives the baseline. LeBron, sitting 10 feet behind the 3-point line, sees that the man guarding him (Carmelo Anthony) isn’t really paying attention. So as Williams gets under the basket, LeBron bolts to the basket. Anthony’s double-take once he realized LeBron left was precious. Bounce pass. Slam dunk. Beautiful.I stopped it. Played it back a couple times. Called in the boy to show him. The lesson: Never take your eye off the guy you’re defending. Carmelo. That’s some basic stuff there. This is it. Put it fullscreen. Watch Carmelo double-take as the vid cuts out. Precious.
- I hate the hot take. Especially hot takes that are just there to be hot takes. That’s been my problem with columnists for the longest time, and the whole sports culture that demands hot takes. So apologies if you consider this one: There’s nobody more fun to watch right now, in any sport, than Steph Curry. In any sport. Entertaining as hell. Great ball-handler. Fearless. Creative. Smooth. Oh, man, is he fun to watch. And the fact that he’s, physically, one of the least-imposing players in the league … how can you not love watching that guy? Heck, if he were a pitcher, I might even watch baseball.
- Also, since we’re semi-hot taking: Curry is the best player in the league. And not just now. Everybody would agree that, right now, Curry is the best player in the league. But he was last year, too (duh, MVP), even though too many people are still holding on to the belief that LeBron is the best player on the planet. This is the semi-hot take: He’s not.
- The thing is, I could break out all sorts of stats — I look at ’em — that show how good Curry is. But the point, mainly I think, is that LeBron has fallen off. He hasn’t led the league in PER — I told you I look these things up — since 2012-13. Excessive minutes, injuries, age, you name it and it’s probably been a factor. But LeBron isn’t the same player in Cleveland that he was in Miami. He’s struggling mightily with his outside shot so far this season. Yeah, he’s still great. Still Top 5 in the MVP voting, I think. I just think we’ve seen the best of LeBron James. I hope he has enough left to give the Cavs a real chance at an NBA title.
The NBA’s season is too long. There are some gawdawful teams. Yes, teams “tank,” though I think the benefits — and there are some, financially and in short-term win percentage — are probably not worth the trouble and pain of tanking.
Yeah, there’s some traveling going on.
But these are the best athletes anywhere. OK, so John Wall can’t throw a baseball. He really can’t throw a baseball. (No link here, gotta embed this baby):
Still, the guys who play this game are stunningly athletic, even the worst of them. At its best, the NBA is a free-wheeling, offensive-minded, up-tempo game (now maybe more than ever) where teamwork is rewarded as in no other sport. Plus, an NBA game is done in 2 1/2 hours, max. Or about two hours shorter than most World Series games.
In the next several months, I’ll be spending a lot of late nights watching the Association, as (I’ve made this point before) nobody calls it. It’s almost midnight now. The Clippers and Warriors are in the throes of an exciting game in Oakland. I have a story due in the morning and another one to write in the afternoon. They need transitions.
But the NBA season has started. Who needs sleep?