Category Archives: Sports

Last night in the NBA by the numbers

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Last night, in one of the most historically-relevant nights in NBA history, I couldn’t help but think about numbers. They were everywhere. Let’s break some of them down.

14 – The number of NBA games played last night. OK, that one was easy.

2 – The number of NBA games played last night that REALLY mattered. Sure, there was some Eastern Conference seeding to hammer out and the Houston Rockets clinched a playoff berth. But the two games that people will tell their grandkids about (the most reliable barometer for historical significance BTW) were the Golden State Warriors gunning for 73 wins in a single season and Kobe Bryant’s last NBA contest.

2 – The number of NBA streams I flipped between for about three hours from 10:30 p.m. ET onwards. Yup, it was a late night. And yup, I should have split-screened them. And yup, I’ll go to bed earlier tonight.

37 – The number of years since Kobe was born. His age, in other words.

20 – The number of consecutive seasons Kobe has been a Los Angeles Laker, the longest any NBA player has been with the same team. Death, taxes and Kobe being a Laker. Three things you can always count on.

Infinity – The number of damn celebs at this damn game. I mean I know this is L.A. but damn!

A fun hypothetical: How people would have reacted had Kobe dropped X number of points

X=15Good job, good effort. I mean, he averaged 17.6 points this season, well below his career average of 25, so this hovers around what he’s been doing all season. Makes sense. Thanks for the memories, #mamba.

X=25Alright, now we’re talking. A nice throwback effort from the Black Mamba. He hit his career average, a solid way to end his career. Enjoy retirement, Kobes!

X=40Yo, did Kobe really just do that?! That shit is crazy. I did not see that coming. This from a guy who shot 29% from three and 36% from the field this year?! SMDH. Hats off to Kobe. What a way to go out. Mad respect.

X=50Hold up, Kobe did WHAT?! You’re fucking with me, right? No way he did that. Dude IS like 50. Let me look up the box score. Damn, you’re right. #Mambaout indeed. Kobe dropped that mic and stepped on it.

60 – The number of points that Kobe scored last night in the final NBA game of his amazing career. That means that in the 2015-2016 NBA season, Kobe scored more in one game than any other player. Watching this unfold live was one of the most insane things I’ve seen on a basketball court. It was surreal. It was video game-like. It was like one of those cheesy yet fantastic Disney sports movies. It was everything anybody could have hoped for in Kobe’s finale.

50/50 – The odds that Kobe was going to have to be carried out on a stretcher (thumbs up raised to the sky just like a Disney movie) due to exhaustion. Seriously, he looked THAT tired.

Oh right, the other game. Well, the other game was ONLY the Warriors trying to win the most games EVER in an NBA season. Only.

72 – Prior to last night, the most wins in a single NBA season, set by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the 1995-96 campaign.

73 – The number of wins the Warriors achieved last night after beating the Memphis Grizzlies 125-104. The Grizz never stood a chance in this one. I don’t care how good Matt Barnes is at scowling.

30 – The number of dollars I won this year from betting on the Warriors 🙂

402 – The number of three pointers that Steph (i.e. Chef) Curry has made this season, the most in NBA history. Dude is lit from three.

286 – The second-highest number of three pointers made in a single season, accomplished last year by, wait for it, Curry. That means he broke his own record by 116. WTF.

276 – The third-highest number of three pointers made in a single season, accomplished this year by, wait for it, Curry’s backcourt mate, Klay Thompson. Yeah, they’re the heavy favourites to repeat as NBA champions, I’d say.

433 – The total number of three pointers made this season by the entire Milwaukee Bucks team.

2 – The number of days left until the NBA playoffs tip off. Can’t wait.

4 – The number of hashtags I’ll end this post with.

#ThankYouMamba #ThankYouWarriors #LetsGoRaps #WeTheNorth

 

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Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are currently the cutest thing on the Internet

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In case you haven’t noticed, a serious bromance has bloomed in the 6ix.

The state of the Raptors is pretty strong at the moment. Kyle Lowry was voted in as the starting point guard for the Eastern Conference All-Star team for the second year running. DeMar DeRozan should also end up on the squad as a reserve. The game is set to tip off in a few weeks at the Air Canada Centre, the first time Canada will host an NBA All-Star Game. And thanks to last night’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers, the Raps now sport an eight-game winning streak, their longest in 14 years.

But this post isn’t about stats, team records or All-Star votes. It’s about the fact that Kyle and DeMar are currently the cutest couple on the Internet. Let’s take a look at the evidence.

Exhibit A

You know you got a real pal when you start ribbing on each other. And that’s exactly what Kyle does in this video as he calls out DeMar for his suspect math skills. He even manages to throw in a USC dig, DeMar’s alma mater. When DeMar sheepishly says “I didn’t even go to college that long,” you kind of want to reach into the computer and give him a hug.

Exhibit B

At about the one-minute mark, you’ll see a mysterious water bottle enter the frame. This is Kyle messing with DeMar’s interview. At about the 1:30 mark, Kyle says DeMar gets his shot off “after 38 pump fakes,” leading to one of the most glorious laughs in the history of laughter. Pure joy.

Exhibit C

I’ll break this one down as best I can. It seems to me that DeMar tells Kyle he smells good and then Kyle (get this!) says thank you and says it’s the soap he bought him. I have so many questions about this!

  • Why is DeMar buying Kyle soap?
  • Can’t Kyle buy his own soap?
  • Was it a Christmas present?
  • What kind of soap was it?
  • What else does DeMar buy Kyle?
  • What does Kyle buy DeMar?

These are the questions that keep me up at night.

Exhibit D

In a video of outtakes, Kyle and DeMar can’t seem to nail down this read for the JUNO Awards. OK, maybe more so DeMar than Kyle.

Exhibit E

Kyle: Yo D, give me a piggyback.

DeMar: Aight bro but you do me next.

Kyle: Ya aight bro.

DeMar: Cool.

Exhibit F

I feel like this is a game that children play in grade school. But Kyle’s not afraid to bring it back! A theme is starting to develop here: Kyle seems to enjoy messing with DeMar’s interviews. Maybe we should expect DeMar’s revenge one of these days.

"We are the two best friends that anyone could have."

A post shared by Toronto Raptors (@raptors) on

Exhibit G

And the fun just keeps on coming. After this past Friday’s win over the Miami Heat, Lowry was at it again, producing the following exchange:

DeMar: Y’all have a great day.

Kyle: It’s night-time.

Listen, all of these exchanges are awesome. As The Starters have been saying, these two are the best comedy duo in the NBA right now. They’re providing a lot of laughs for a lot of fans. Hell, you don’t even have to like basketball to find this amusing.

But all kidding aside, this chemistry bodes well for the future, both immediate and long-term. As is the same with any profession, if you get along with your coworkers outside of work, you’re more likely to be productive at work. Also, if you genuinely like your coworkers, you’re more likely to stay put.

And in a game where chemistry is second only to talent in terms of predicting success, here’s hoping this bond leads them to make some noise in the playoffs this year. If your two best players get along like this, you have to think it’ll trickle down to the rest of the team.

We currently sit 2.5 games back of Cleveland for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. And with all the changes and uncertainty facing that squad, finishing tops in the East isn’t totally out of the question.

So let’s raise a glass to the best comedy due in the NBA. Here’s hoping I’ll have to do a part two of this post.

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Grantland will be dearly missed but never forgotten

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With the Internet these days, it’s hard for most people to concentrate on one thing for a long time. There’s even an expression for it, TLDR, which stands for “Too long, didn’t read.” There’s too much stimulation online, too many options. Researching dog breeds can turn into Hotline Bling memes minutes later. It’s tough to stay focused online. The result is that we become a jack of all trades but a master of none. We don’t take deep dives anymore. We stay in the shallow end, where it’s safe.

Grantland, which suffered a quick and painful death this past Friday, wasn’t afraid to take deep dives. That’s what made it special. And that’s why I’ll miss it like it was a family member.

If the rest of the Internet was fast food, then Grantland was a slow-cooked beef brisket. Quality over quantity.

From what I’ve heard, Grantland didn’t make ESPN a lot of money. If you think of clicks as monetary values, then this makes sense. The site was split up into two blogs (one sports and one pop culture) and one features section. Off the top of my head, Grantland would publish approximately 8-10 blog posts and 3-4 feature articles per day, in addition to various audio and video content. Oh, and Grantlanders were 9-5ers, never publishing on evenings and weekends.

Given the financial state of online print journalism, this was a ballsy move. While their competitors were going HAM updating their websites to turn clicks into revenue, Grantland stuck to its model. There were no listicles. There was no clickbaiting. Just quality, thoughtful, well-researched long-form journalism.

There was Rembert Browne’s storytelling, whether he was on Air Force interviewing the President or in the middle of it all in Ferguson, Missouri. There was Jonathan Abrams giving us an inside look at Matt Barnes and Joakim Noah. There was Andy Greenwald making me anticipate the recaps almost as much as the episodes themselves for Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. They even invented a word: Precaps! There was Zach Lowe, perhaps the most impressive basketball mind out there, getting us ready for NBA seasons with his crazy predictions and his reads of the league. And there was not much on the Internet more fun than the brackets that Grantland rolled out. To name a few, George Costanza was the top “second banana”, The Empire Strikes Back was the winning sequel, Hey Ya won best song of the millennium and “footage” won 2014.

And then, of course, there’s Bill Simmons, the mind behind Grantland. Bill often talked about the importance of taking risks with the site. To try things out, to push the envelope. And that’s what they did from 2011 until this past Friday. In the end, Grantland felt more like a group of friends than anything else and I believe that, to an extent, that’s what Bill was going for. I’m going to miss this bunch and will consume their content wherever they end up. Given the amount of talent on the team, I don’t see them struggling to find work. So thanks for the memories, Grantland. It was a great run, indeed.

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Here’s some reasons to get excited about the Raptors season

The Toronto Raptors have wallowed in mediocrity for the better part of their 20-year existence. For the most part, the experience of watching the Raptors over the years has been trying at best and depressing at worst. They’ve qualified for the post-season six times and have won ONE measly playoff round all the way back in 2001. Throughout their history, they have a win-loss record of 630-882, just under 42%. To be fair, we haven’t been the only tortured fan base in the league, seeing as how only 17 teams have ever won the chip. But there have been times when every new Raptors season has felt like a foregone conclusion: complete and utter insignificance.

Ladies and gentlemen, here to bring some much-needed positive vibes to this whole debacle, I present to you the 2014-15 NBA season. At the time of writing, the Raptors have the best record in the East (13-3) and the highest average point differential (10.6) in the entire league. Our record sits just a smidge behind two Western Conference powerhouses  in the Memphis Grizzlies and the Golden State Warriors.

Tack on a super-successful #WeTheNorth (#WeTheFourth?) marketing campaign and this season has been a ball so far. It’s finally time to feel good about our team. We’re deep, we’re likable, we have all kinds of swag, we have Drake sitting courtside, and we’re finally having fun playing basketball. Here’s some top moments so far.

 All things Drake

I’m trying my best to resist posting a series of pics and gifs of Drake being Drake and just calling it a day, dropping the mic. Because when he’s sitting in his courtside seat (sometimes in awesomely lame outfits such as the one above) clapping, cheering and generally going nuts, it’s hard to not get down with that. Love him or hate him, he’s one of the best (some might say the best) at his craft right now and he’s a legitimate fan of this team, having grown up in The 6.

Probably my favourite Drake moment of the year came at the George Constanza glasses/grandpa sweater game, a rout of the Philadelphia 76ers. In the fourth quarter, with the Raptors easily handling the Sixers, James Johnson broke free for a breakaway dunk. Old man Drake had quite the reaction:

Drake’s official title is the Global Ambassador for the Raps. I’m not entirely sure what that entails but if it means more Drake-ey things from his courtside seat, I’m all in. And I’m pretty sure an official Drake Cam is the best idea I’ve ever had. Just throw it in the top-right corner of the screen and we good.

The travelling band of merry Raptors’ fans

So we all know we have one of the best fanbases in the league. We’re loud, we’re passionate and we can be a little crazy, over the top even. In one of the more satisfying wins of the season, the Raptors travelled to Cleveland and soundly beat LeBron’s new superteam. But one of the more interesting aspects was something that was happening in the stands. In one section of the arena, there were, according to the Toronto Star, “a few hundred” diehard Raptors fans cheering on their team. Decked out in Raps gear, they were chanting and screaming their heads off. They even sang the Canadian national anthem at one point. In a classic backfire, the arena staff decided to turn up the music to drown out the pro-Toronto chants. And what did they play, you ask? Yup, they played Drake. Yeah, I doubt that did much to dampen their collective spirit.

Oh, and they didn’t stop once the game was over. Don’t let anybody tell you Toronto doesn’t love basketball. The Toronto Maple who?

The blowouts

Sure, we could have a real debate about strength of schedule. Eleven of the Raps’ 16 games have been in the friendly and supportive confines of the Air Canada Centre. They have played zero road games against the much tougher Western Conference. And they’ve played Orlando twice and Philadelphia once, both relatively easy outs. But the Raptors didn’t make the schedule. They have to play the teams the NBA tells them to play. Sure, it’s been favourable but what I’ve really liked is the ease in which they’re dispatching opponents. They beat Philly by 32, Utah by 18, Milwaukee by 42 and took down LeBron and co. by 18 in their house, apparently with the whole city of Cleveland behind them. All of these wins results in the 10.6 average point differential mentioned above, tops in the league. So sure, it hasn’t been the most gruelling schedule but this is a deep league where nearly every team can beat any other team.

#forgivevince

It was about time, right? It’s been a full ten years since Vince Carter left Toronto for New Jersey. And he’s been loudly booed ever since. Sure, he was far from perfect on his way out of Toronto whether it was not giving 100% on the court or childishly refusing to dunk. But he brought excitement and credibility to the Raptors around the same time the other Canadian team was going belly up out west. It’s time we forgive him. And earlier this month, the fans took a step in the right direction. After a video tribute played on the jumbotron, the fans stood up and gave him a standing ovation. Vince even shed a few tears.

This was the right thing to do. Finally, some closure. Now let’s start focusing on our team. And so far, what a team it’s been.

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Here’s what I noticed going from the upper bowl to the lower bowl at the Raptors game

 

At last night’s (long) triple-overtime Raptors’ loss to the Washington Wizards, we started out in the upper bowl. A couple of tickets were purchased off StubHub for the very reasonable price of $10 a pop. We were in the 15th row in the upper bowl. Not the best vantage point, but for less than the price of a beer at the Air Canada Centre, there wasn’t much to complain about.

People often talk about how the real fans are in the upper bowl and the lower bowl is filled with investment bankers entertaining clients. A simplistic view but when I took my seat, I found myself beside one of the realest fans I’ve seen. The guy was decked out in Raptors gear and had a Raptors flag to wave whenever something good happened. He had his extra-large pop by his feet to keep his vocal chords loose as he had a loud reaction to everything that happened on the court. He was ignoring whoever he went to the game with. Hopefully that person wasn’t expecting a conversation. I mean, this guy had tunnel vision.

Here’s an idea of just how passionate he was.  About a couple minutes into the game. Kyle Lowry headed to the free throw line. “C’mon Kyle, hit these!” he yelled. Lowry hits the first of two. “Nice going, KL! Make the pair!” he screamed. Lowry makes the second. “Way to go, KL! Way to hit those free throws! Let’s go Raps! Get back on D!” When a fan gets THAT excited about free throws, you know you have a superfan on your hands. Anyway, I dug this guy’s enthusiasm but we ended moving a few seats down just so he wasn’t screaming in our ears.

After halftime, we snuck down to the lower bowl. Shh. We weren’t too close to the court but had a much better view. But things felt different. You had less screaming passionate fans. People’s clothes were noticeably nicer and more expensive. More people were looking down at their phones. It wasn’t all bad, of course. When good things happened for the Raptors, people cheered, which was great. But it was a far cry from cheering for made free throws in the opening moments of the game.

Anyway, once the third overtime hit, a lot of fans had headed home and we saw an opportunity. A few moments later, we were down in the sixth row, the best seats I had had in almost 10 years. And down in this section, a quick scan around me made me realize I was mostly surrounded by suits, both the type of person and the garment. I’m not saying I was surprised by the lessening passion, nicer clothes and higher number of Blackberries as I made my way closer and closer to the court. It’s to be expected. This would happen at any event with different ticket prices. But it was interesting to see the gradual change in demographics as one’s seat improved.

And late in the third overtime, I looked up to our original spot and made out the superfan from earlier. Still there, still waving his flag, still screaming himself hoarse. Still loving the experience from the nosebleeds.

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Changes to All-Star Saturday night and what I think of them

The NBA seems to have a fear of change. The calls to shorten the season and/or reconfigure the NBA Draft have been growing louder. Any reaction from the tall foreheads running the league? Crickets.

Change for an organization as big as the NBA is probably going to manifest itself in baby steps. Well, one NBA event desperately in need of a shakeup will take a few such steps this weekend.

I’m talking about NBA All-Star Saturday Night. Let’s take a look at the three premiere events of the evening (no need to discuss the one with retired and WNBA players), what has changed and, most importantly, what I think about it. I’ll even thrown in a pick just for fun.

Taco Bell Skills Challenge

The Event: Six players compete against each other in a timed dribbling, shooting and passing obstacle course. The top three fastest times from the first round move on to the second and final round. Fastest time in final round wins the event.

The Change: The number of participants has been upped from six to eight and four teams of two have been formed, with each conference represented by two two-man teams. Players on each team run the course one after the other in a relay format, resulting in one total time per team. The top team from each conference faces each other in the second and final round.

What I think: If All-Star Saturday night was three siblings, this would be the one that everybody ignores. That being said, it can be an entertaining event and I like the change. Perhaps inspired by the Olympics, turning this into a team competition is a cool idea. There won’t be a whole lot of strategic planning except “Run as fast as you can” but I suppose there will be some thought put into who goes first. You’d probably want the faster player going second (or the one who has more of a “second gear”) in a bid to make up as much time as possible.

Random question(s): How will the first player tag his partner? Will there be a baton? Will there be fist bumps? Low-fives?

My pick: DeMar Derozan (Go Raps!) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Go impossible-to-pronounce names!)

Foot Locker Three-Point Contest

The Event: This is the second-most popular event of the night and maybe even the first for some fans. It is also the event that is least in need of a makeover. The premise is pretty simple. There are five racks with five balls each surrounding the three-point line. Every ball is worth one point except one multi-coloured ball per rack (i.e. the money ball). Each player has 60 seconds to shoot and sink as many of the 25 balls as possible. A little bit of quick math means that the highest score possible is 30.

The Change: The new wrinkle this year is that one of the racks is ONLY MONEY BALLS, changing the highest possible score from 30 to 34. Again, this event is more or less fine but letting each player decide where they want to place the rack will add a little intrigue.

Random Question(s): Will players choose rack position based on proficiency from that spot or wanting to be warmed up when they get to it? Will anybody break the record of 25? And if so, will people argue for an asterisk?

My pick: I’ll say Arron Afflalo just because Kendrick Lamar used to be jealous of him.

Sprite Slam Dunk (Sidenote: I suddenly want to drink a Sprite and eat a taco while wearing some fresh kicks)

The Event: Without a doubt, this is the marquee event of NBA All-Star Saturday night. Remember Vince? Remember Nate? Remember Blake? Yeah. I thought so. But for all the great ones, there have sadly been at least as many duds. The major reason why this event has gotten rather blah is a lack of star power. There haven’t been any LeBrons, Carmelos or Durants. Instead, we’ve had Gerald Green and Jeremy Evans. And somebody named Fred Jones won it in 2004. Anyway, the format has been tweaked a few times but for the most part, it’s been an individual competition with judges deciding the outcome.

The (Inadvertent) Change: I’m cautiously optimistic this year. We’ll get to the format change but let me first say that the field is made up of Paul George, John Wall, Damian Lillard, Terrence Ross, Ben McLemore and Harrison Barnes. Half of the participants this year are playing in the All-Star Game. Not too shabby. If 2014 is the year the dunk contest gets saved, it will happen because of the star power (and not the format change), although the latter could help.

The Change: OK, rule change. Similar to the other events, this one has become more conference-based. The first round (i.e. the freestyle round) will have the three dunkers from each conference do whatever they want for 90 seconds. Now, this could be pretty entertaining, depending on how creative the players get. Three high flyers given carte blanche to come up with a dunking routine? Could be very cool.

The freestyle round doesn’t make any real difference for the battle round (cool names by the way, NBA). In the battle round, East dunkers go head-to-head against West dunkers, with judges selecting the winners. The first conference to win three battles wins the competition. So we get a team win and then fans select the Dunker of the Night.

Now, this new system isn’t perfect but I respect the NBA for trying something new because this event was becoming pretty hard to watch. But it was always more about the lack of stars than it was about the format. Also, just the general idea that there aren’t a whole lot of ways to put a ball through a hoop.

Random Question(s): Will there be some crazy double-alley-oop, off the backboard routines in the freestyle round? Will a player dunk over both his teammates? Will the dunk contest be saved or, at the least, revived?

My pick: Eastern Conference and Paul George

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The NBA and its endless entertainment value

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.

Fashion

Oh, the fashion. No words are necessary here. Just pictures. Thank you NBA for your endless entertainment value.

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