The NBA is such a fascinating league. While the actual games are obviously entertaining, the behind-the-scenes, off-court stuff is often equally intriguing. Consider it the salt on your french fries or the mayo on your sandwich. You’d be fine without it but the final product just wouldn’t be quite as good.
I’m talking about everything that happens in the Twittersphere. I’m talking about the tension between the new school (“We’re all bros”) and the old school (“If you’re wearing another jersey, don’t even look at me”). I’m talking about how social media allows players to be more creative when interacting with fans. And please, we simply cannot forget about the questionable fashion choices that occur each and every day in this wonderful sports association.
What I’m trying to say is that the NBA has something for everyone. Even if you’re not a fan per se, you should still relate to these stories on some level. NBA players are eccentric, quirky and downright entertaining. It’s what happens outside the lines that really makes this a special league. To pay homage, here are my favourite off-court moments of this young 2013-14 NBA season.
Roy Hibbert’s Twitter Account
In a league where swagger is an essential ingredient to success (Thunder, Heat, Warriors, Clippers, etc.), there is perhaps no team with more swag than the Indiana Pacers. And that combination of confidence, arrogance and cockiness is exemplified by the man in the middle, Roy Hibbert. For example, after the Pacers won their first five games, Hibbert took to Twitter:
Only five games into the season, this tweet rubbed some people the wrong way. Personally, I loved it. It’s no different than an athlete wanting to make it to Sochi. Or an employee wanting that promotion. We all have goals. Hibbert just chose to broadcast his goal to the world. NBD. Here’s what he had to say in response to the haters:
While his DPOY tweet irked some people, this next set of tweets is so adorable that you can’t help but sit back and appreciate the fact that Twitter exists. Here’s the story. The PS4 was hitting the shelves but Hibbert didn’t feel like waiting in line to pick one up. So he offered to buy it off someone. But that’s not it. In addition to the money, he would also go to your house and “chill w the fam n eat dinner.” No word on whether this actually happened but the tweets themselves are priceless.
Is this a joke? Hibbert wants you to know that no, it is definitely not a joke.
Once again, not a joke.
Amir Johnson and Drake
Being a Torontonian, there’s no way I could forget about Amir Johnson and all the refreshing things he does off the court. He once, for no reason whatsoever, went and bought every single copy of Drake’s new album from Future Shop and HMV and proceeded to hand them out to fans. If you’re cynical about this (i.e. Drake sucks anyway, he just did it for the good press), then you really need to start enjoying life. He didn’t have to do this. He wanted to do this.
But wait, there’s more! He did the Zombie Walk in Toronto…
And! He shaved the Raptors logo into the back of his head. And dyed it red!
Raptors fans love a player who embraces the city (Matt Bonner taking the TTC comes to mind). So it’s probably fair to say that Johnson is the people’s favourite around these parts, no matter what his statline might be.
Jason Kidd spills his drink
Forget about the Nets’ horrible start amid such lofty expectations. Forget about how they mortgaged their future for two aging (washed up?) superstars. Forget about how somebody with zero coaching experience parachuted into a head coaching gig. Because the biggest story of the Nets season so far is something called Cupgate or Spillgate, depending on your personal preference.
In the dying moments of a close game, Coach Kidd somehow produces a cup of pop with ice. (Sidenote: I’ve been watching hoops for a while now and never have I seen a coach with a cup of soda, but I digress). The Nets are out of timeouts so to buy some time to draw up a play, the savvy Kidd instructs one of his players to hit him on the way back to the bench, thus spilling the drink, thus giving him some time to draw up a play while the mess is being cleaned. At first, Kidd denied it. Then, he realized that you don’t have to be a professional lip-reader to determine what he said to the player. You can’t make this stuff up. Ladies and gentlemen, Spillgate.
DeMarcus Cousins keeping it real
A lot of people pine for the NBA of the 80s. Their argument is that the league has gotten soft, blowing too many whistles for ticky-tack fouls. In the 80s, you also had real animosity between teams. Not everybody was buddy-buddy. If you were in a different uniform, you ain’t shaking my hand. So when DeMarcus Cousins wouldn’t let Isiah Thomas give Chris Paul some dap after a game, actually dragging him off the court, it symbolized a battle between new school and old school, between “We’re all in this together” and “F you, y’all ain’t my friends.” After the game, Chris Paul said that Cousins needed some “guidance.” No doubt a fair point but fans of the gritty, physical play of the 80s sure enjoyed what they saw that night.
LeBron, Christmas and some bonus LeBron
I’m a sucker for creative commercials, even once going to a movie theatre to watch an hour-and-a-half of TV ads. Yes, that really happened. So far this year, there have been two NBA-related ads that I have absolutely loved.
In the first, LeBron James runs, bikes and swims his way around South Beach with an ever-growing throng of fans and supporters close behind him. From the pack of fans waiting for him outside his mansion to LeBron sprinting into the Atlantic to LeBron crashing a game of pick-up basketball, the spot is perfect. I could watch it a million times.
Forget the presents. Every Christmas, I look forward to about 12 straight hours of hoops. The NBA is unique in the sense that they schedule all their box-office teams on Christmas Day. From noon to midnight, it’s a day of non-stop hoops heaven. This year, to make some more money on top of all the money they already have, the NBA has decided that all teams will wear short-sleeved versions of their jerseys on Christmas Day. And look, they made a commercial to celebrate the moment. What we’re left with is a xylophone-type-thing with basketball meshes, with a nice little surprise at the end. I wonder how many takes this took. Either way, it’s pretty damn cool.
Oh, the fashion. No words are necessary here. Just pictures. Thank you NBA for your endless entertainment value.