Thank You Notes to the NBA

Another NBA article – I can see Muels rolling his eyes. Be patient m’amigo we’ll get back to your topics. Besides I am waiting for you to weigh in on the Letterman and Weis stuff below.

I grew up on the ‘70’s NBA. A time when many games were seen via delayed broadcast. Friday nights in March and April meant the NBA on CBS. Names like ‘Hondo’ Havlicek, George ‘Iceman’ Gervin and the finger roll, ‘Pistol’ Pete Maravich, Kareem and the ‘sky hook’ and Dr. J permeated my daily vernacular. I loved ‘Downtown’ Freddie Brown and Jack Sikma with the high post reverse-pivot and the jumper. Ernie D. and Bob McAdoo played for the Braves.

I was a vagabond fan. I cheered for Dr. J, Caldwell Jones, Bobby (not the brother of the aforementioned Caldwell) Jones, Chocolate Thunder and the 6ers in ’77. They lost to Dr. Jack Ramsey, Bill Walton, and Lionel Hollins. I rooted for the Bullets in ’78 when they topped the Super Sonics. I even recall rooting for the Suns in ’76.

The NBA was a great league and a ‘hip’ league. Because of its limited exposure not everybody paid attention to pro hoops. It seemed like only a select group of us growing up actually would discuss the happenings in the NBA. That made its allure even greater.

The 70’s became the 80’s. Bird and Magic made it even more special. I cheered lustily for Moses Malone, Calvin Murphy, Rick Barry, and company as they took on the mighty Celts – ya gotta cheer for the underdog. Then came His Airness. Then the Bad Boys. It was great.

Somewhere between MJ’s foray into fly swatting and the pervasive petulance, I lost interest. My vision became clouded by the entourages and the romanticizing of the thug life.

Earlier this season I was in the middle of one of my everything-that-is-wrong-with-the-NBA rants when JD stopped me in my tracks. “When was the last time you actually watched a game?” He asked. I stopped, cleared my throat, and tried to start rationalizing. JD interrupted. “When was the last time you actually tried to appreciate an NBA game?”

It was one of those rare occasions where I was rendered speechless. With tail firmly between my legs I vowed to prove to JD that the league was still not worthy of my time. That was December. And now I must confess, my love for the NBA has been rekindled. And so here are my thank yous:

Mr. Steve Nash: Thank you for the crossover and the bounce pass.

The Phoenix Suns: Thank you for running the floor and playing fast but not hurrying.

Mr. Tim Duncan: Thank you for using the glass. The Wizard of Westwood must smile every time he sees that.
Manu Ginobili: Thank you for the triple threat.

The San Antonio Spurs: Thank you for the pick’n’roll.

D. Wade: Thank you for letting the game come to you. And thank you for your choice of numbers – the Holy Trinity.

Thank you Don Nelson for letting your team play without a conscience – your most important shot is your next one.

Thank you Golden State for the sea of yellow.

Thank you LeBron for the athleticism.

Thank you to the Chicago Bulls for keeping it simple on the offensive end of the floor.

Thank you to the Detroit Pistons for playing defense like their lives depended upon it.

Thank you Jason Kidd for the triple-doubles. I love it for no other reason than we get to see footage of Magic and Bird. Makes one realize how impressive of a feat was Oscar Robertson’s triple-double for an entire season (’62-’63).

Almost forgot (yes this is an edit) thank you AI! Yes, thank you AI for your deft movements on the court. Please avoid putting your Reeboks in your mouth!!!!!!!!

Thank you Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, Chris Duhon, and even Mike Dunleavy pickin’ splinters for adding a Duke flavor to the playoffs.

Last but not least, thank you JD.

10 Responses to "Thank You Notes to the NBA"

  1. Muels   May 14, 2007 at 11:41 pm

    No eye rolling- just struggling now because I am more a fan of the team (my Celts) than the game itself…and you know you are in trouble when you know when the draft LOTTERY is…not the freakin’ draft itself…sorry but I miss Bird and Magic and them bringing out the best in each other and their teams…somebody please tell me a team that plays like a TEAM and is fun to watch…maybe Phoenix or Golden State?..I am just not interested…

    Redirecting if I may… still way too early to say anything except “Keep it up, Red Sox!”…no way the Yanks are even close to being out of it…Roger will help, but I think George’s $ would have been better spent on developing and acquiring some young prospect pitchers and just taken your lumps this year…Is Beckett’s skin tear the first of more health problems for what has been the best pitching staff my Saux have ever had?..Timlin has yet to be missed thus far…JD needs to get out of his funk pretty soon just to prevent the media from giving us the daily reminder of how much he cost…

    Sabres…not done yet, but their natural casing is geting ready to split open any time now…too bad really for what they have brought to hockey fans in western NY…Sens are pretty dang worthy right about now…

    Knighthawks are NLL Champs!.. I wish I paid more attention…Rhinos (the Pros) started the season…I think they did…where’s the energy?…or interest?..well maybe after school is over…

    Less than 8 days until the NBA draft lottery!..whoa, that’s just scarry…

    and I’m out…

  2. Chris Wuest   May 15, 2007 at 2:51 pm

    Good article but I still think the NBA needs work, mainly with rule changes. Stop trying to form basketball to be a marketing magnet. Basketball is a great game within itself. David Stern, please stop with the bullcrap defensive 3 second zone/no-zone rules. I just wish they would almost copy the college rule book.

  3. ccww   May 15, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    Good conversation, thanks to Casey. (Had to wipe a tear from my eye due to his love notes).

    The NBA has benefited greatly from the influx of international players, many of whom are playing key roles on their respective clubs. Their presence has infused an elevation of skill levels, especially with respect to shooting, passing and moving without the ball … these were all key things missing from the end of Jordan era until a few years ago … except for the Spurs, who seemed to have “gotten it” before everyone else in this new era with the play of Parker, Ginobili and Duncan.

    Currently, the players are soooooo talented it’s scary, but I agree with Chris that the rules need to start following those for college instead of becoming mysterious soccer type rules that nobody can understand (or see). And as I mentioned before, the slug teams on the east coast (Boston, NY and Philly) need to be really competitive for the league to fulfill it’s potential.

    Almost by himself, Steve Nash has reinvigorated the NBA with his skills and style of play. What did Mark Cuban not see in this guy??? Anyway, the Suns are close to being the most popular team in the league … and maybe they’ll finally get the ring this year. If they do happen to win, most fans will demand the Suns’ style of basketball from everyone … and if the league fails to deliver, it might fall back to the depths seen from ’97-’05.

    Wally

  4. ccww   May 15, 2007 at 5:03 pm

    Wu and Wally,

    Can’t agree more. It’s as if Stern is trying to leave his mark on the game with these silly rules. Did you see Nash taking a charge last night from Duncan? Great friggin’ play. He gets up, goes down the floor, and penetrates and pitches. Wu, I am getting close to your man-crush.

    A return to glory – or at least competitiveness would be nice from the Knicks, Celts, and 6ers.

    Who knows what Mark Cuban sees, but why was he making the player decisions? Sounds a little Steinbrenner-esque.

    Casey

  5. JD   May 15, 2007 at 8:15 pm

    No problem my friend just trying to help out. I must say it has been a little lonely being an NBA fan in these parts for the last 8-10 years, nobody wanted a piece of it after Jordan retired. After getting looks that made me think that I belonged in a mental institution every time I brought up the fact that I enjoyed the way Iverson played, I kind of kept to myself and enjoyed the league and the players in isolation.
    As for the rule changes I think the 3 second defensive rule makes sense because with the zone now being allowed guys would camp out in the lane and take away any type of penetration.

  6. Z Dubbs   May 16, 2007 at 12:13 am

    Anyone else agree with Amare Stoudamire and now myself that the Spurs are in fact a dirty team?

    I used to think of Duncan, Popovich, and the whole organization as classy and one of the best run in the NBA.
    Now it just seems like Duncan is a big cry baby, Bowen is kneeing people in the groin, and Big Shot Bob is taking cheap shots in garbage time.

    The suspensions handed down by the NBA follow the rules and may be warranted, but it is a shame that the Suns lose two huge parts of their team who didn’t fight and only ran on the court, while the Spurs lose a has been who took a cheap shot at a two-time MVP.

  7. ccww   May 16, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    Certainly don’t condone what Horry did to Nash … it was wrong … but I think we need several more data points before we declare the Spurs a “dirty team”. I think this was out of character for Horry. Plus, alot of this is just posturing by the Suns to see if they can get the refs a bit one-sided for the future. The Spurs are certainly nowhere near the Pistons Bad Boys or the Knicks with Anthony Mason back in the 90’s. Not to mention Karl Malone, who was the biggest ***hole around, but nobody could do anything about it cuz he was so friggin’ big.

    As for crybabies, why single out Duncan?? The whole league is full of ’em, with one of the biggest being Mike D’Antoni, the Suns coach.

    Personally, I still think the Spurs are a classy organization and what we’re seeing here is intensity on the court in the playoffs … and these things happen when you play the same team every other night over a 2 week period. Horry was wrong in this instance, but let’s not cast such a broad net over the whole team.

    Wally

  8. ccww   May 16, 2007 at 10:03 pm

    Labeling the Spurs as ‘dirty’ is rather en vogue right now. Some of this backlash comes from attitudes toward Bowen. I say backlash as a compliment to him. Bowen is a great defender, and opponents don’t usually like getting frustrated by great defenders. Thus when he does something borderline, it gets made into something larger than it was. When he does something wrong, it is made into a scandal.

    Casey

  9. Z Dubbs   May 18, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    They are in no way like the old Pistons or even close to Karl Malone…but in the scope of today’s game, when you can take 4 steps and carry, the Spurs seem to be the only team that do this now. It may be a throwback, and they are still the best defensive team dirty or not, but you don’t see the young Bulls taking cheap shots and they were a great defensive team this year. And yes, this has been blown way out of proportion, but that goes for almost everything in sports. If we didn’t blow things out of proportion, what would ESPN have to talk about?

  10. ccww   May 18, 2007 at 3:42 pm

    Absolutely!

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