So I read a lot of columns, sports or otherwise. And whenever I see a piece that’s bulleted, my first thought is to deem the writer lazy. Because a bulleted article allows the writer to hand something in to his/her editor that doesn’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. It’s pretty much just random thoughts. For those of you who remember essay writing from your university days, bulleted columns essentially lack a thesis statement. But hey, we lead busy lives, right? Not all of us have time for thesis statements, rising action, conclusions, and whatever other components make up an official essay these days. All that being said, here are some of my bulleted thoughts. Feel free to call me lazy because you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong.
- How in the world are the Los Angeles Lakers (15-16) a sub-500 team? We all expected a getting-to-know-each-other phase. Not many people expected them to come flying out of the gates. But this? If the season were to end today, the Lakers would finish as the 10th seed in the Western Conference and miss the playoffs. If I had more energy, I’d look up the last time that happened. OK fine, I’ll look it up. They last missed the playoffs in 2004-05. One other tidbit: Since 1948, they’ve missed the playoffs a total of five times. Thanks, Wikipedia. Anyway, coming into the season, it was clear to me and everyone else who cared that they had a measly excuse for a bench, “highlighted,” I suppose, by 36-year-old Antawn Jamison. But I thought given their starting lineup of multiple All-Stars Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard, and Pau Gasol and one-time All-Star (look it up) Metta World Peace, they’d, at the very, very least, be a playoff team. If this team doesn’t put together a winning streak soon, chants of “We Want Phil” may start raining down at the Staples Centre once again. Or maybe “We Want Andrea.” Wouldn’t that be sweet?
- Oh, I ain’t done with the City of Angels just yet. If the Lakers have been bad, their stadium-mates have been, well, great. That’s right. The Clippers, perhaps at one point the biggest laughing stock in any sport, consistently dismissed as the clumsy little brother to the Lakers, didn’t drop a game during the month of December as they amassed 17 straight wins. 17! They have the best record in the league! Unlike the Lakers, their bench has a collection of guys who would start on most other teams. The Clippers!? With the Lakers falling like flies and the Clippers rising like stars, the city of Los Angeles is truly embroiled in a bizarro world-type situation. Oh, and they play each other tomorrow. You don’t think both LA squads will be up for that one? Please let Gasol pat Chris Paul’s head again. Please. And in case you were wondering, since 1970, the Clippers have qualified for the playoffs a grand total of eight times. Ocho!
- Let’s start off by reviewing the ages of some of these New York Knickerbockers. Kurt Thomas: 40. Jason Kidd: 39. Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace: both 38. Amar’e Stoudemire: plays defence like he’s 38. Just kidding. Well, not really. For the record, he’s 30. To be fair, of these senior citizens, only one, Kidd, plays more than 20 minutes per game at 29.9. Coming into the season, I expected the Knicks’ age to show. But thanks to an MVP-like performance so far from Carmelo Anthony as well as an honourable mention to J.R. Smith’s decision to stay away from the New York nightlife, this team is 21-10 and currently in second place in the Eastern Conference behind LeBron et. al. Now, as we all know, the East is (how should I put this politely?) inferior to the West but still. The Knicks could potentially beat Miami in a seven-game series. They’ve already done it twice this year, by a combined 40 points, actually.
- As for the aforementioned Heatles, they’re doing pretty much what I expected. They have the best record in the East but the fourth-best record in the league. There’s no doubt the champs are playing well but isn’t there a feeling that they could have a better record at this point? A vague sense that because they realize the weakness of their conference, that they’re not playing full bore at this point? They’re smart enough to know that preserving their bodies for a deep playoff run should be their top priority right now, not winning games in November and December. They should focus on getting the top seed in the East and not on shooting for any single-season record at this point. Win the East, win the “statement games” such as their Christmas tussle with the Thunder on Christmas day and they should be just fine.
- So I can’t talk about every team so let’s just move right along to my home squadron: The Toronto Raptors. I, along with many members of the media, were putting forward a strong sense of cautious optimism at the beginning of the season. Given that the pucks were in a lockout, I was hoping (praying) for some Cinderella-type story that seems to mostly happen in the movies but sometimes materializes in real life. In an ideal world, the Raps come out of the gates strong, beating teams nobody expected them to beat, eventually wrapping up the season somewhere in the 2-4 seed range in the East. Meanwhile, the NHL owners and players are forced to cancel the entire season, putting the Raptors directly in the spotlight in Hogtown. After that, who knows what could have happened? But winning a round and maybe even losing out to the Heat in the Conference Finals would have been priceless for the game of basketball in Toronto as well as Canada. As we all know, this will likely not happen. Because from November 20 to December 12, the Raptors lost 12 of 13 games (we beat Phoenix at home!), putting us at 4-19 on the season. The good news? What we’ve done since then. Coincidentally, once Bargnani left the lineup due to injury, the Raps magically started stringing together some wins, namely eight of their last nine. Now I’m no rocket scientist. I can’t even tipe corretcly but it seems we may be a better team without our no-doubt-talented yet no-doubt-unmotivated no. 1 pick. And according to ESPN, he’s a lock to be traded. Please take note of the four exclamation points after the topic name. And this is a pro-Raptors site. ‘Nuff said.