Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Basketball end of times...

     Everybody loves drama.  We are all drawn to the doomsday scenario.  Every summer blockbuster movie needs to up the stakes until the destruction of the world is not only constantly threatened but often partially initiated.  The Durant signing seems to have fed into the tragic horror of most sports fans.  Let’s skip the season!  The system is broken and we need a hard cap and we need to eliminate max salaries!  How can the league survive with just a few super teams!  What’s the point of watching basketball or even bothering to play out the season!  Now there absolutely will have to be a lockout!  I probably should have written all those statements in capitals as well as with exclamation points.
     It would probably be wise for everyone to wake up today, the day after 4th of July, and take some long, slow, deep breaths and chill the fuck out.  I’ll admit that my initial reaction bordered a bit on sadness.  Golden State will be a lot of fun next year but I had kind of enjoyed briefly wondering who might win the NBA championship next year.  Strangely, if I were a betting man, I would have put my money on Oklahoma City.  I thought they were the best team in the playoffs.  Their regular season wasn’t great but I thought Steven Adams made a huge leap and the whole team found an identity and there was really no excuse for losing 3 in a row to what appeared to be an inferior Golden State team.  Two historic level collapses, first by the Thunder and then by Golden State themselves had to occur in order to get where we are today on July 5th.  Had The Thunder closed out their series against Golden State, had Klay Thompson not had one of the greatest shooting nights in NBA history in game 6, the Thunder would have made it to the NBA finals and would probably have been favorites to win.  Had they won last year would Durant be on The Warriors today?  Similarly, had Draymond not lost his mind and punched LeBron in the nuts and had Curry not forgotten that it’s possible to drive past Kevin Love the Warriors would probably not have lost to the Cavs in one of the historically shocking finals collapses ever and Durant would probably not have considered joining the reining 2 time NBA champs.  The unprecedented rise in cap money also had to happen just as one of the very best players in the game became a free agent in a year when the other free agents were frankly not top echelon players.  I’m trying to make the point here that a lot of variables had to unfold in very specific ways for Durant to end up on Golden State. 
     I’m going to try and avoid doing too much arm chair psychology concerning Durant’s state of mind, but I think clearly, had he really enjoyed playing with Russell Westbrook, he would not have left Oklahoma City.  I’m not saying they do not like each other and all that kind of stuff.  I’m simply saying that if he wanted his career to stay linked with Westbrook why would he leave.  OKC would probably have had just as good odds of winning it all next year as Golden State had he stayed.  On some level, style of basketball must have meant something to Durant.  It doesn’t hurt that Durant leaving both makes Golden State better but also greatly diminishes their biggest rival (I just don’t think they fear San Antonio the same way they did OKC).  Having said all that perhaps Durant simply didn’t like the schools in his school district or he just wanted to be on the west coast.  There are a million factors going into where each one of us considers living.

     For me what is so fascinating is how insane it is that Cleveland won the NBA championship.  LeBron seemed to will the Cavs to the finish line.  I did not think it was possible for any team in the NBA to beat Golden State three times in a row.  Yes, Draymond had to get suspended and Bogut hurt and Iguodala hurt (and possibly Curry was hurt as well) but still, I didn’t see the Cavs shutting down Golden State’s offense.  LeBron proved he is far and away the best player on the planet in just about every facet of the game (except shooting.  He better get a shooting coach before his body deteriorates if he wants his career to last beyond the point at which he is the most physically dominant basketball player in the world).  If Lebron weren’t so good Durant would probably still be on OKC, or maybe not.  The important thing to remember here is these are very young men playing a game and we should all relax a bit.  It seems like Golden State is going to win it all next year but then again it seemed that way last year as well.  You never know.  Sports are unpredictable and life can still be entertaining even if the existence of the world isn’t at stake. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016


    I’ve found myself getting caught up in the Durant nonsense and checking constantly to see what choice he’s made.  Is he going to pick a new team?  Is he going back to the Thunder?  For how many years?  This is completely absurd.  I was having a conversation with a friend of mine today about Derrick Rose and I was saying that I really like him as a player and he seems like a good guy and then I remembered he’s facing gang rape charges. 

     I make a concerted effort not to make any judgments about something in the news until there are actual facts out there to be read and digested.  Virtually nothing has been leaked about the Derek Rose case so far.  It’s purely a TMZ type thing and reputable news outlets have released very little information.  Thus, I feel it’s stupid for me to make any kind of assessment of what I think may or may not have happened.  Why should I take any side when I don’t have any actual facts about the case and I don’t know any of the involved parties?  I try to keep an open mind until there is more information out there.  Recently, Michael Gira of the Swans was accused by Larkin Grimm of rape.  There was an instant uproar and all across the Internet and people took sides.  Most of what I read in that case involved believing the accuser.  When these things become news we know very little initially and it seems like in that case a rape most likely did not occur.  But it’s important to remember that I don’t know either the accused or the accuser and I am not a policeman and I cannot possibly have all the relevant facts in the case and thus I truly cannot even fathom what actually happened between these two (to me) strangers.  There are plenty of other examples where things go the opposite way, where the consensus does not believe the woman who is rightfully making an accusation (see Cosby, Bill).  
     Coming back to Rose this means, that for me, I can’t possibly know what to think about what happened with a woman he knew in a hotel room and what was consensual and what was not.  I choose to keep an open mind and I’m rooting for the guy from a basketball standpoint but I’m prepared that at any point I could find that I was rooting for a bad person.  I work in a bar in NYC and I can truly say that you can never know another person completely.  You might think someone is totally cool and then you discover they’ve been stealing or you might think someone sucks and then you find out there a kind intelligent human being.  People are a constant surprise.  
     So back to Durant, he’ll sign with a team any moment now and it really won’t affect my life anymore right now then it will in a few days when there is more information out there about what he was thinking and why.  The real rush is artificially created by news outlets which all want to have the hottest and fastest take on everything.  They want you to get caught up and to make judgments and predictions before anyone else does.  Everyone wants to be the first to break a news story but this really makes no sense to me.  I’ll patiently read someone who has some interesting and well thought out things to say about facts he or she has taken the time to gather thank you… Oh and by the way let's remember that we're all anticipating the decision of a very young man who is determining where he is going to spend the next years (year?) with his family.  It ain't life or death and it's his right to live and work anywhere he wants.