I have some things to say about Kyrie Irving to the Mavericks.
First thing, the only thing it seems like executives around the league hate more than LeBron James and the way he pioneered stars dictating where they spend their prime, is the Los Angeles Lakers organization.
I saw a tweet that said the Lakers front office might not see heaven for what they’ve done with this roster, and that might be true, but if Rob Pelinka is locked outside the pearly gates, he might have company in Nets owner Joe Tsai.
Which brings me to my second point, the Brooklyn Nets are a completely unserious franchise.
Kyrie Irving was willing to stick out the rest of the year, and the Nets are in fourth place in a stacked Eastern conference despite Kevin Durant being out for the last month! Why not be buyers at the deadline and chase the ring instead of worrying about what draft picks they’re able to secure seven years from now?
Championships are forever, and no, you don’t get a trophy for gifting the Dallas Mavericks a potential championship. Now the Nets are faced with the decision whether or not to ship Kevin Durant back to Golden State, or his preferred preseason destination of Phoenix, or see if Durant is ready to pursue a championship with Spencer Dinwiddie as his sidekick.
Third, it looks like we are going to finally figure out what Luka Doncic is made of. Luka’s usage rates are off the charts, and the addition of Kyrie Irving means we’re going to get to find out if Luka is willing to take a step back for the sake of building something special, or if filling up the stat sheet is the thing he loves above all else.
And what makes us think that the combination of Luka and Kyrie will work? Didn’t we just have a version of this in Brooklyn with Kyrie and James Harden? And how did that work out?
Is Luka Doncic not just a more likeable version of James Harden, who keeps his propensity to make it rain on the hardwood and out of the strip clubs? On some level, I like Mark Cuban putting his franchise superstar into this type of pressure cooker situation this early in his career.
I like Jalen Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie, but assuming Kyrie Irving actually shows up for games and doesn’t lock himself in the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository demanding answers about the JFK assassination, he’s going to be the best teammate Luka has ever had, by far. The “Luka never had any help” narrative has officially gone out the window.
At the end of the day, I still don’t think Dallas has enough depth or dependability to win a championship. I still think the Nets were more concerned with Kyrie not getting what he wanted than they were worried about making their team better. I still think the Suns know their aging and infighting roster has closed their championship window. And I don’t think, I KNOW, the Clippers only tried to get involved here because they are fully aware of their status as pretenders.
So for everyone out there involved in this trade that was simply trying to keep LeBron and the Lakers down, make sure you keep that same energy when you’re all face to face in Cancun this summer.
It’s easy to want to turn this into a class issue.
And there are plenty of conservatives out there that have all the incentive in the world to paint Steph and Aisha Curry as hypocritical Democrats that hate the poor.
But I still live in a world where facts matter over politics, so let’s take a look at the facts.
Steph Curry has dedicated his time, energy, and finances to a multitude of causes that help those in lower income communities have better access to education, health care, nutrition, fitness and more.
Steph Curry puts his money where his mouth is more than he puts his mouthguard where his mouth is. The world is an objectively better place with Steph Curry in it, no matter how you feel about the man’s politics.
This is a legitimate privacy and safety issue for his family. And anyone who tells you it’s about Steph Curry wanting to exclude low income people from being his neighbors needs to explain to you exactly how they define the term “low income.”
The proposed property that is supposed to hold the 16 three-story townhomes is a 1.5 acre plot of land valued at around $12 million dollars. So right there you’re looking at $750,000 per home without even factoring in building costs. Most homes that sold in Atherton last year were closing at over $3500 per square foot.
How many low income people do you know paying thousands of dollars per square foot?
This is about the extremely affluent community of Atherton trying to find a way to comply with California’s new affordable housing plan, which seeks to develop 348 units in communities across different income levels over the next eight years.
Steph Curry overpaid for a house in Atherton, in part for the privacy of having the empty lot next door. He’s one of the most photographed people in the world. So what if he doesn’t want the neighbors staring at his kids from their third story window. Is that a thing you’d want if you could afford to opt out of it? Be honest.
If you were the one of the most famous people in the country, and you moved to a town that at the time, had an ordinance that any dwelling had to be on a minimum of an acre of land, would you be cool with your next door neighbor putting up 16 three-story condos that overlooked your property?
If wanting privacy and safety for your kids makes you a hypocrite because of all the charity you do for other people’s kids, we should all want to be hypocrites.
The dumbest thing about this fake gotcha controversy is that unlike many others in Atherton, Steph and Aisha Curry actually want the condos built. And even in their protest of the condos going up next door, they simply requested that if the construction takes place, it includes sufficient barriers to retain the privacy they were seeking when they originally bought the property.
This whole “controversy” comes off as a desperation play by think tanks and political grifters to try and drive a wedge between Steph Curry and the voting block they believe keeps them out of accumulating power- poor black and brown people.
It’s not going to work.
Can I recommend a better strategy to my Conservative friends?
Get little Buckley out in the driveway and have him put in enough work to shoot 43% percent from three off of screens.
We need to talk about the NBA and the epidemic of players missing games.
In a world with Normatec leg sleeves, Game Ready Ice Machines, dietitians and sports scientists, in a league without hand checking or hard fouls, and back-to-back games cut down by a third over the last decade, why does it feel like more players are dealing with more injuries than ever? And sitting out for injury prevention?
This is not a diss at any particular player, but a critique of a league I love.
Pro Sports are about the fans. Players are entertainers that are handsomely paid to sacrifice some of your body and potential longevity for the fans. Some people will take this statement too far.
I played injured in my time in the NFL, and I would never advise anyone to play injured. But sometimes, you do have to play hurt.
The NBA, TV networks, and its players are partners in a giant cash cow. The players aren’t holding up their end of the bargain when fans who may spend up to $1k for a family of four to sit in marginal seats while not being able to count on the stars to show up.
I remember times Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James talking at various times about feeling the need to show up every night that they are able to play in front of fans who might otherwise never get a chance to see them perform.
The league knows that something has to give, and that surely must be addressed in the new CBA.
We already know the NBA is home to the most sensitive superstar athletes. The wrong type of scented candles in a locker room will have a star player asking for a trade 45 minutes after signing an extension. Shout out to Zach LaVine.
And you don’t even have to be a big star to have big feelings anymore. Just ask Jae Crowder, who is in the middle of a four month paid vacation just because his coach asked him to play 28 minutes off the bench instead of 28 minutes as a starter.
It’s a league full of easily bruisable egos- but where are all these other bumps and bruises coming from?
It is confusing to me how the stars of today play so many less games with so many more technological advances than the older generations.
I played and did things to play injured that i wouldnt do if I could do it all over. But playing hurt is necessary.
The top 19 scorers in the NBA this year have missed a combined 137 games this season, and so you know I’m not cherry picking a few banged up individuals and prescribing it to everyone else- every single one of those has missed at least 3 games. Not one has played a full slate.
And that’s not even including the LA Clippers “big three,” who have missed a combined 56 games.
This is beyond load management. It feels like the whole damn NBA decided to join the rest of us and work from home.
Injuries happen. But in today’s day and age, they shouldn’t be happening this frequently, to this many players, across an entire league. And the preventative measures of load management clearly aren’t working.
Either we’ve got a soft tissue epidemic on our hands, or the entire league is just plain soft.
We need to talk about the new NBA Individual Award trophies, and the decision to omit Kareem Abdul Jabbar from being included amongst the honors.
If you haven’t seen it yet, the NBA decided to re-name its awards to honor the contributions of past greats. Most championship trophies have names, for example the Larry O’Brien trophy that goes to the NBA’s champion. But honoring former NBA greats on the individual awards is new.
Let’s go through them-
The league’s Most Valuable Player will now be awarded with The Michael Jordan Trophy. You’d have to be insane to think there was an honor that could be given out that didn’t deserve to have Michael Jordan’s name on it, but Kareem won this award six times. More than any other player in NBA history. And even if you say to yourself, but surely “Michael Jordan deserved the MVP award more than the five times he won it,” don’t forget that in 1973 Kareem Abdul Jabbar averaged 30 points and 16 rebounds per game, and finished second to Dave Cowens, who averaged 20 and 16. MJ ain’t the only one with a legitimate complaint here.
The NBA is introducing a new award at the end of the 2022-23 season, the Kia NBA Clutch Player of the Year. This trophy is named after Jerry West. Love Jerry, but he’s already the logo, and do I have to remind you that at 1-8, Jerry West has the worst NBA Finals record of all time. His nickname might have been “Mr. Clutch” back in the 1970’s, but if Jerry West existed with this record in today’s hot take economy, you’d go to sports entertainment jail for calling him the most clutch player of all time. Kareem not only has six NBA championships, he owns the longest win streak in college basketball history, and was on the other end of snapping the longest win streak in NBA history by dominating Wilt Chamberlain and the Lakers. If anyone is clutch, Kareem is clutch.
And speaking of Wilt Chamberlain, the Rookie of the Year trophy has been named in honor of Wilt. I’ll admit that the man had the craziest debut in NBA history, coming out of the gate with almost 40 points a game. But if we’re keeping it a buck, Wilt wasn’t technically a rookie when he was a rookie. Through no fault of his own, Wilt was forced to wait to enter the draft after leaving Kansas, and spent time with the Globetrotters. Kareem, who went by Lew Alcindor when he came out of UCLA, turned down the Globetrotters money, and also won rookie of the year, improving the Bucks record by 29 games and setting a record for 20 point playoff games by a rookie that stood until 2018.
The Most Improved Player award is being named after George Mikan, whose scoring average dropped every year from 1950-1956, and who never won MVP again after his first season with the Minneapolis Lakers. I mean, what are we even doing here.
Until LeBron breaks Kareem’s all time scoring record, we’re talking about the all-time leader in scoring, wins, MVP’s and all-star selections, and is tied for most all-NBA selections. And while I get naming the NBA Defensive Player of the Year trophy after Hakeem Olajuwon, guess who “The Dream” had to pass in order to be the NBA’s all-time blocks leader? That’s right, Kareem. I don’t care what the NBA has to do to make this right- whether it’s a citizenship award, or an award that goes to the total points per game leader, Kareem Abdul Jabbar deserves something. Especially if we’re inventing new awards to hand out to Jerry West because he hit four buzzer beaters in a 14-year career. You know who more than doubled that amount? Michael Jordan. We should be naming the clutch award after him, and the MVP trophy after the guy who won the award more times than anyone.
And it doesn’t get more boring than the Brooklyn Nets hiring Jacque Vaughn to be their new Head Coach.
After Steve Nash, who never should have been brought back this season to begin with, and the Brooklyn Nets agreed to part ways last week, rumors immediately began circulating that owner Joe Tsai wanted to replace Nash with current suspended Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka.
It’s one thing to erroneously add water to a grease fire, like the Nets did when they traded for Ben Simmons. It’s another thing to try and put out a grease fire with a completely separate grease fire.
Ime Udoka is suspended for an entire season for allegedly carrying on a drama-filled affair with the spouse of someone else in the organization, with the added bonus of the affair also being with a subordinate. The rumors of Udoka’s willingness to leave the Celtics might not have been a surprise to anyone that cringes at the thought having people that were caught up in what Jada Pinkett-Smith would call “an entanglement” having to be in an office together, but the Celtics players were definitely caught off guard, and Udoka not getting the Nets job adds another level of drama to what’s going on in Boston.
While Udoka would have been a home run hire on the basketball end, between his personal life, Kyrie Irving’s personal beliefs, Ben Simmons’ personal vendetta against shooting the basketball, and Kevin Durant’s personality online, there might have been one too many issues to overcome.
Enter Jacque Vaughn- the most boring, but dependable, hire the Brooklyn Nets could have made.
Jacque Vaughn was a steady and solid point guard at Kansas that benefited from having several first round picks around him, like Scot Pollard, Greg Ostertag, Raef LaFrentz and Paul Pierce. Despite never averaging more than 11 points and 7 assists per game in college, he was able to put together a 12-year NBA career.
The NBA has a long history of decent role playing guards with a solid college pedigree going on to be championship coaches. The obvious ones are Pat Riley and Steve Kerr, but you also have Rick Carlisle, Ty Lue and Doc Rivers.
There’s something about guys that get the absolute most out of their talent as players that have the ability to unlock the same trait in others. That’s not to say that Steve Nash didn’t maximize his talent, he went from Santa Clara to winning multiple NBA MVP’s. But Nash was a star in college, and a lottery pick for a reason. He had elite base-level talent. We can’t just be saying that every good thing a white player accomplishes in this league is due to hard work.
But let’s get back to talking about the guy that ironically ended Steve Nash’s college career by holding him to 1/11 shooting in the 1996 NCAA Tournament, Jacque Vaughn.
Not only does Vaughn have the credibility of pushing himself past the limit of what he should have been able to accomplish in the NBA, he also has the credibility of having gone up against both Michael Jordan and LeBron James in separate NBA finals. How many coaches can say that?
Vaughn has both played in a playoff game as a member of the Nets, as well as coached the Nets in the 2020 playoffs after Kenny Atkinson resigned. He’s been around as a Nets assistant for the last seven years, so if anyone is aware of all the issues facing this franchise, it’s gotta be him.
Sure, Jacque Vaughn’s first go-round as a head coach was a disaster, but he was in his mid-30’s and trying to make an Orlando Magic team relevant that had Aaron Affalo as one of its best players. Not even Phil Jackson would have had a chance down there.
Sometimes it takes a coach getting an early shot and failing to find their footing. Just look at what Monty Williams has been able to do in Phoenix after flaming out in New Orleans.
The Nets have arguably the most talented starting five in the East, and have obviously been missing a focused, steadfast, diligent locker room voice to channel that talent into wins on the court.
I’m not saying Jacque Vaughn is going to win this team a title, but now that his point guard’s suspension is coming to an end, if he can get Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and Ben Simmons all rowing in the same direction, he’ll have worked a basketball miracle and earned himself the respect that he’s long deserved.
On November 3rd, Kyrie Irving was given a suspension of a minimum of five games. He missed
The reason for the suspension is that he had posted a link to a documentary that made the case that African Americans were of Hebrew heritage, and that the reason that’s not common knowledge is that there has been a century’s long cover-up that includes exaggerating the Holocaust.
It was definitely something that Kyrie Irving needed to clarify, and when given the opportunity, it became clear to any honest observer that the only information that Kyrie had retained from this so-called documentary is the overall concept of black people in America having a much richer history than just being the descendants of slaves, and that he felt no need to apologize.
The backlash has never been about whether anyone believes they have Ancient Hebrew Heritage. The backlash was about whether Kyrie believed the anti-Semitic tropes presented by the film, and whether there has been a Jewish conspiracy to keep black people down.
That particular unanswered question might have justified Kyrie’s initial suspension, but Nets owner Joe Tsai said that he’s met with Kyrie and his family, and that ” it’s clear… that Kyrie does not have any beliefs of hate towards Jewish people or any group.”
Well if it’s so clear, why wasn’t Kyrie Irving back on the court right away?
Maybe Adam Silver is right here, but his own track record in this area makes Kyrie’s continued suspension at the hands of the Nets seem rather excessive.
Back in 2011, the NBA dropped a $100,000 hammer on Kobe Bryant for shouting a gay slur at at a referee. Kobe was allowed to apologize and make it clear that what he said was not a reflection of his feelings toward the gay community. David Stern was commissioner at the time.
After Adam Silver took over as commissioner, Rajon Rondo did the same thing, calling a referee a gay slur in a much more aggressive manner. That official responded by publicly coming out of the closet as gay in an effort to help NBA players realize the impact of their words. And on top of that, Rajon Rondo lied about what he said, and only apologized on Twitter after witnesses and video review showed that Rondo was lying.
Rondo received a one-game suspension amounting to an $86,000 fine.
And in the words of Joe Tsai, does not hate Jewish people OR ANY GROUP.
The suspension was objectively excessive. It was historically excessive. And at the end of the day, it’s all because Kyrie Irving watched a documentary that it’s extremely clear he didn’t comprehend, and posted a link to it without context.
Look, if a baseball pitcher posted a link to a place where he bought a “I love the KKK” t-shirt, we’d all be demanding answers. But if the answer was earnestly that he’s not racist, but instead that he’s just a little bit dumb and thought the K’s stood for strikeouts, how much punishment would be necessary before he was allowed to take the mound again?
The longer this suspension went on, the more backlash Adam Silver and Joe Tsai are risked. LeBron James has already called for Kyrie Irving’s reinstatement. NBPA president Jaylen Brown has taken it a step further, publicly blasting Nike and pointing out that Joe Tsai’s investment in companies that supply China with the technological means to spy on, and ultimately persecute, it’s Uygher Muslim population.
Influential players being willing to take on both of the NBA’s traditionally bulletproof untouchables- Nike and China, to get Kyrie Irving back on the court, is something I guarantee no one has a plan to handle.
It’s as simple as this- once it was determined that the comments cam from a place of ignorance and not malice, they should have immediately let Kyrie play, and do the work of learning about the very real history of the persecution of the Jewish people while on the court.
Put your listening ears on and open up that third eye because we need to talk about Kyrie Irving.
If you’ve been living under a rock, then you may or may not be surprised to find out that Kyrie Irving is sitting out right now, again, without being paid, for reasons completely unrelated to basketball.
Life’s three guarantees: death, taxes, and Kyrie Irving being so gifted at basketball that he gets bored and engages in things that keep him from being able to use his gift.
But I think we’re all being a little hard on Kyrie, don’t you? And if you don’t, still stick with me, and see if you can’t put yourself in Kyrie’s shoes for a moment.
Which… technically, you can’t do anymore, because Nike is ending their relationship with him.
But I digress.
I don’t want to relitigate Kyrie Irving’s past comments about the earth being flat, or that employer-mandated vaccination was the world’s greatest oppression. But I do have to mention those things if for no other reason to establish two things-
1) None of the strange stuff Kyrie Irving has ever made news for saying were his own original ideas. They all came from somewhere other than inside his own head.
And 2) You don’t accidentally stumble into endorsing alternative ideas. You have to be actively searching for them.
Kyrie Irving is a searcher. And this time, the thing he found has people accusing him of being anti-Semitic.
Kyrie Irving posted a link to the film “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake up Black America,” a movie that Ronald Dalton Jr. fashioned after his own book by the same name. The movie was on Amazon, and Irving didn’t provide any commentary about how he felt about the film.
The main idea presented in the film, which includes and easily verifiably false quote from none other than Adolf Hitler, and the batshit crazy claim that the Holocaust was exaggerated 20 times over, is that black people in America have been lied to about their lineage as African slaves, and are in fact, kidnapped Hebrews.
And Kyrie is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, so chances are there are a lot more white people that believe Irving is a Jew than there are black people.
But back to my point- every black family in America has at least one member of the family, or at least a family friend, that might not call themselves a Black Hebrew Israelite, but they certainly have what I’m going to call “Hotep theology.”
If you’re a white person watching this, let me make this relatable. You know that uncle you have that resembles the Randy Quaid character in Independence Day? Well, we have our own version of that same uncle.
And Hotep theology, while it can be harmful, usually comes from well-meaning people that just want to participate in a pride-filled heritage and have a connection to where they come from.
They’re searchers, or at least they were, before they became militantly attached to their ideals.
And that brings me back to Kyrie Irving. The searcher. Born in Australia. His mother, who was mixed race, passed away when he was four. He was raised going to Catholic School, in a family of world class athletes, of which he ended up being the best. His stepmother is a strong black executive business woman in a world with far too few of those, and despite her not being married to his father anymore, he still made her his agent.
Kyrie Irving was brought up in such unusual circumstances that he was never going to be what anyone would consider normal. And not only was he cut off from his mother, tragically, he is also a black man in America.
Talk to a white person about where they come from. And I’m not talking about the ones that are super into genealogy and can name every ancestor going back 15 generations. Just think of a friend, call them up, and ask if they know anything about their heritage.
They’ll probably say something like “My dad’s Irish Catholic, my mom’s family goes back to Sicily, which sounds Italian but it isn’t.”
Imagine knowing where you come from, much less how you got here, and that history includes free people, perhaps oppressed, but likely free, making the decision to come here.
Maybe you take that simple knowledge of being able to trace a thread backwards for granted. The truth is, and I’m not saying this to make anyone feel guilty, but a lot of black people in America can’t even trace their family histories back to a forced arrival, because for generations and generations, black offspring were passed around by their owners like Pnini Select trading cards. Sure, there are some property records out there, but it’s not like there was a Slavery Carfax.
The truth is, America created people like Kyrie a long time ago, when it cut an entire people group off from its history for the sake of capital gains. Some of the things Kyrie is searching for can’t be found, so when someone comes along to tell him and people like him that they’re more than just the product of the American South’s need for cheap labor, that they’re not only special, but chosen, and connected to a greater story-
is Kyrie Irving really the monster we’ve made him out to be for wanting to believe it?
Should he have shared it without context? No.
Should someone in Kyrie Irving’s life be working with him diligently on media literacy? Absolutely.
But is Kyrie Irving, one of the most charitable athletes in the world, who has donated more to progressive causes than most liberal people will make in three lifetimes, an anti-Semite because he thinks he’s got Hebrew heritage?
No, and if you’ve put yourself in his shoes, you know that he’s hearing the question “are you an anti-Semite” as “Do you hate yourself?”
And if we know one thing about Kyrie Irving, it’s that he likes Kyrie Irving, at least enough to always be thinking about the question “who the hell is Kyrie Irving?“
Look, maybe you disagree with the take that we’re being too harsh on Kyrie. And I get the dangers of the ideas Kyrie is endorsing by sharing this film without context. History has taught us to stand on guard for language that delegitimizes or villainizes the Jews, because when we haven’t, the results have been one of our history’s greatest stains.
But hopefully you can digest the idea that Kyrie means well, and is simply on a quest to piece together his place on an earth that he recently realized was round.
Maybe what I said here today helped reshape your view of Kyrie Irving, and if that’s the case, you have more in common with Kyrie than you thought.
You can both be influenced by videos on the internet.
We need to talk about the NBA, and why your favorite Eastern Conference team is on the verge of falling apart.
Ever since Michael Jordan retired the second time, the West has run the NBA, winning titles at a 2-to-1 rate. LeBron did most of the heavy lifting, but every once in a while a plucky team would rise up and make the East proud. I’m talking to you, Toronto.
Well with the NBA season kicking off this week, I’m here to tell you why this won’t be one of those years.
Here’s why your favorite Eastern Conference team is closer to falling apart than they are to an NBA Championship.
Let’s start with last year’s #1 seed Miami Heat, where Erik Spoelstra is in his eighth consecutive season of convincing Pat Riley to pay Udonis Haslem to hang out with him on the bench and protect him from Jimmy Butler’s mood swings. This team has a top seven that are a danger to everyone in the NBA, including themselves. They might outsource you, they might shut you down, or they might collectively miss 200 combined games due to injury like they did last year. Granted, a lot of that was due to Victor Oladipo, who is, *let me check my notes here* STILL NOT HEALTHY.
Some say the Heat have lost a bit of last year’s edginess with PJ Tucker and Markieff Morris both moving on, but with Tyler Herro getting paid means we might see triple the post-three-pointer Elvis lip curls, and that’s plenty enough edge for everyone.
And what about last year’s Eastern Conference champion, the Boston Celtics? Surely they’re ready to build on last year’s success right? It’s not like they had a drama-filled offseason that included floating their second best player, Jaylen Brown, in trade talks… or suspending their head coach for an entire season for cheating on his actress wife with a team employee?
I’ll give the Celtics this, adding Malcolm Brogdon was an underrated move, and Jayson Tatum is the closest thing to an MVP candidate that the East has outside of Giannis. But this team is only going as far as Robert Williams’ knees will take them. If I’m Boston, I’m only playing my defensive stopper sparingly until the playoffs.
Speaking of Giannis, what about the Bucks? Surely the team that still looks exactly like the 2021 NBA champions has a shot, right?
And the answer is no. No they do not. The coach is still Mike Budenholzer. The team still doesn’t play defense. They’re gonna live by the three, and die by the three, and if they want to live, Khris Middleton has to find his stroke the way that Jrue Holiday did. If Middleton continues to fall off, no amount of uncalled offensive charges on Giannis is going to save this Bucks team.
Now, I’ve mentioned two teams that failed to hold on to PJ Tucker, so what about the team that added him- the Philadelphia 76ers? They’ve got the best center in the NBA in Joel Embiid. James Harden decided that he wants to actually be in shape this year because Tyrese Maxey is effortlessly running up and down the courd making him look bad. And Tobias Harris gets paid more money than God so he must be good, right?
The problem is that the chemistry on this team stinks, and it might take the team moving on from Doc Rivers in order to fix it. What’s Mike D’Antoni up to these days?
Last but not least, let’s talk about the Brooklyn Nets. Apologies to Bulls fans, Lonzo Ball’s knee is too much to overcome. And apologies to Toronto. Me not loving you isn’t the problem. Kawhi Leonard not loving you is your issue. Blame him.
And you can tell I’m not a Knicks fan, because I’ve made it this long without bringing up Atlanta and Trae Young.
The Brooklyn Nets have no excuse not to run through the Eastern Conference, but they’ll find one. Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons and Kyrie Irving are so busy looking for ways to make NBA fans mad that they forgot that the easiest way to piss everyone off is to win games. Despite KD’s tantrum this offseason, the Nets roster is actually impressive. Sean Marks should get credit for adding TJ Warren and Seth Curry, who can get you 20 apiece on any given night when healthy. People are saying this team can’t rebound, but give Day’Ron Sharpe 30 minutes a night and he might lead the league. Plus, Ben Simmons 6-10 ass isn’t doing anything else, make him crash the glass.
Do I have any faith in Steve Nash? No. He’s terrible. But this team is good enough to overcome that and win it all.
But they won’t. By March, Kyrie will be protesting the existence of leather basketballs as a form of animal cruelty, KD will have found a way to force a trade to Phoenix, and Ben Simmons will have been memed to death for all the times he passed the ball from under the basket to a triple-teamed Joe Harris.
The Eastern Conference has the most talent it’s ever had. They have no excuse to not produce a serious contender this year. But they won’t.
We need to talk about the NBA, and why your favorite Western Conference team is on the verge of falling apart.
Every year, the delicate dance begins of basketball’s most gifted multimillionaires balancing fragile and insatiable egos against psychopathic levels of competitiveness and drive.
If we’ve learned one thing about today’s NBA, it’s that a championship window is only opened by talent and teamwork, but that same window can be slammed shut for a million different reasons.
Today I’m here to with a full glass of Haterade to explain why your favorite Western Conference team is much closer to falling apart than they are to hoisting up the gold ball.
Let’s start with my beloved Lakers. After several months of trade rumors, not only is he still on the team, the Lakers brought in his on-court nemesis Patrick Beverly, and might even start Pat Bev over Russ. Is Westbrook ready to run the bench unit for the good of the team? Will Anthony Davis’ body hold up? Is winning still the most important thing to LeBron James? Is there ever going to be a day when Dennis Schroder shows up to work and isn’t remined that he fumbled an $84 million dollar bag? This Lakers team has so many question marks that the Riddler could wear them as an outfit.
And what about the defending champion Golden State Warriors? Jordan Poole is going to get mocked in every arena he goes to, and don’t think it’ll just be the fans with something to say about him eating a punch. Is Draymond Green ready to spend an entire year playing big brother and defending a teammate from slander that he helped create? More importantly, does Draymond Green have the stamina to not get sensitive himself about being the only core piece of the Warriors team that isn’t locked up long-term? The Warriors need Draymond to be volatile on the court to keep other teams off guard- they don’t need internal volatility off the court. As Draymond goes, the Warriors go.
And what about the other so-called contenders in the Western Conference?
The Mavericks lost Jalen Brunson. Don’t underestimate the attitude that a two-time NCAA champion brought into that locker room. They don’t beat the Suns to advance to the conference finals without him. Now you’re going into a season with your second and third best players being Spencer Dinwiddie and Tim Hardaway Jr? Yikes.
The Phoenix Suns gave Deandre Ayton his money, but not without pissing him off first. The one thing this team had going for it was its chemistry, and now Ayton’s comes to media day acting like a very rich grouch, Jae Crowder is sitting at home waiting to be traded, Cam Johnson had negotiations with James Jones break down, and Devin Booker and Chris Paul were on opposite ends of the choice to speak out about the Robert Sarver reports. It’s a good think Cam Payne and Mikal Bridges like to dance, because with chemistry like this they’ll be dancing their way to the seventh seed.
The Utah Jazz blew their team up after winning the Northwest division because their stars couldn’t get along, and now they’re in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes. Good luck with that. We all know you’ll end up picking a Gordon Hayward close with the 8th pick.
The Nuggets believe they’re the Warriors, like Jamal Murray taking two years to heal from injury is the same as Klay Thompson. But your team still doesn’t play defense, and your title chances are as fragile as Michael Porter Jr’s back. And I’m sorry Denver, but Nikola Jokic isn’t getting a third straight MVP on a 45-win-team.
And what about Memphis? I like the Grizzlies- they’re in a sweet spot where the team is young, they all have friendly contracts, and they seem to like playing together. But they’ve never come into a season with expectations, and expectations can be suffocating when the national media starts to pick apart your flaws. When Jaren Jackson Jr. returns from his foot injury in a couple months, and he doesn’t improve his 40% shooting from the field? What then? What about the next time Ja Morant threatens some random stranger who is trolling him online?
Last and least, we have the Clippers. Look, I’m happy to see John Wall happy and ready to roll. He’s only played in 40 games in the last three years, while bringing in over $120 million in salary. His story goes a long way to show that money doesn’t buy happiness. I’m rooting for him. But the Clippers are still the Clippers. Kawhi is healthy, for now. Paul George is healthy, for now. But the track record of those guys makes me feel like it might be smart money to wager on Norman Powell as this team’s leading scorer. I’ll take the Clippers seriously when they do something serious. Until then, they’re still just the Clippers.
Let me know if you think I’m Wrighster or Wrong about your favorite Western Conference team’s chances. Or let me know if you’re a Minnesota Timberwolves fan and you’re mad that I didn’t take your team seriously enough to include them.
All I know is that if my team can’t be happy, I don’t want to see any of your teams happy. And if my Lakers do find a way to figure this out and get another title, I get to see your team unhappy either way.
Tonight marks the start of the 2022-2023 NBA Season. Wait, what? The season always sneaks up on me, but this time, I’m ready for it.
It was a wild offseason full of blockbuster trades (Donovan Mitchell), trade demands (Kevin Durant), and trades that broke our brains (Rudy Gobert).
Has the NBA ever been more talented than it is now? Seriously, there are marquee players on almost every team. But, if you thought tanking was bad in the past, wait until you see what happens this year as teams position themselves for Victor Wembanyama and Scott Henderson.
Shall we make some NBA season predictions?
NBA Key Storylines
Draymond Green vs. The Warriors: The punch heard ’round the world might be a death blow to the Warriors dynasty. Draymond’s punch isn’t something the team will forget in the short term. After the recipient of the punch, Jordan Poole, and Andrew Wiggins received contract extensions, Draymond is now the meme of Will Smith in an empty room. I trust Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Steve Kerr to be professional about it, but this situation is something to keep an eye on.
The Circus in Brooklyn: On paper, the Nets could win the NBA Championship. In reality, they have a long way to go. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving wanted out this offseason, and yet both players return to a roster that was swept by the Celtics in the first round. It’s only a matter of when, not if, the team will implode.
No Ime, No Problem?: The Celtics were prime for a return to the NBA Finals until Ime Udoka received a yearlong suspension. Now, I don’t know what to expect out of Boston. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are the two staples and the addition of Malcolm Brogan is an upgrade at the point guard position. However, Robert Williams is out until December at the earliest and Al Horford has a lot of miles on his legs. The Cs should figure things out on their way to the playoffs, but I don’t trust them to beat teams like Boston or Philadelphia.
You can say this about a lot of teams when it comes to injuries, but if the Bucks had a healthy Khris Middleton, I believe they make the NBA Finals. If the Bucks are healthy this season, they have the pieces to win the Eastern Conference. They return virtually the same roster from a season ago, and they will add Joe Ingles to the rotation once he returns in 2023. I like the Sixers’ additions of P.J. Tucker and De’Anthony Melton to add much-needed toughness to the roster. Embiid will be an MVP favorite, but it will not be enough to catapult the Sixers past the Bucks in the East.
Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Lakers
New Orleans Pelicans
Western Conference Finals: Warriors over Clippers
The Draymond Green saga could be a major thorn in the Warriors’ side as they look to defend their title. There is a possibility that Green gets dealt at the deadline. However, if Green can suck it up and play through the turmoil, the Warriors are in a prime position to repeat. Steph and Klay will steal all the headlines, but another year of Poole and Wiggins will add to the team’s chemistry. If Jonathan Kuminga can take the next step and James Wiseman can take a (literal) step, the Warriors will represent the West in the Finals.
Bucks over Warriors
Giannis puts on his crown and wins his second ring.
MVP: Joel Embiid
Rookie of the Year: Keegan Murray
Coach of the Year: Michael Malone
Defensive Player of the Year: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Most Improved Player: Jalen Brunson
Sixth Man of the Year: Jordan Poole
Check back next year to see how right (or wrong) my predictions turn out!
Leave your NBA season predictions in the comments or tweet us, @danny_giro.