This week, John Wall can do no wrong, ever again, and if any of you lousy, no good, tax-evading slobs speak ill of him in any capacity, there will be repercussions. Don’t do it. Elsewhere, Kobe Bryant calls out his teammates with a branded metaphor, and both the brand and his teammates responded. Also, the Warriors have come out to play-ee-ayyyy, and we’re completely ignoring the tour of glorified British welfare recipients.
1. John Wall is a true American hero: We could’ve predicted his rise in basketball. We saw so many flashes of greatness during his single season at Kentucky that his eventual preeminence among NBA point guards became almost a foregone conclusion. Having averaged over 19 points and nearly nine assists per game while starting all 82 last season, Wall came into this one with incredible expectations which his skill was sure to meet, with the help of a largely young and vibrant supporting cast.
What we could not foresee, however, was the connection he has made with his fans. One case in particular transcended the NBA this week: Wall had befriended a young girl named Miyah Telemaque-Nelson who had been diagnosed with cancer. Wall helped Miyah achieve one of her dreams, meeting Nicki Minaj, and had been writing her name on his shoes all season. She passed away Monday morning, and the Wizards held a moment of silence for her before that night’s game against the Celtics. In the game, Wall scored 26 points and had 17 assists en route to a double-overtime victory, which he dedicated to Miyah’s memory in a hauntingly human post-game interview.
John Wall just became one of my favorite NBA players. He could show State Farm and those Paul clowns a thing or two about assists, certainly. On Friday, he posted another double-double while leading the Wizards over Paul’s Clippers, who had previously won nine straight.
2. Kobe Bryant likes Charmin, does not like his teammates, Swaggy gonna Swag, etc.: This edition of the Los Angeles Lakers is one of the most fascinating teams in NBA history. Hell, it’s one of the most fascinating case studies of group psychology ever. Kobe is on a warpath, a general without an army. Basically, he’s the last scene of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid but without a Sundance Kid and equipped with nothing but a Super Soaker. Swaggy P is self-explanatory, an all-encompassing explorations into the limits of confidence and overcompensation. Steve Nash is the Obsolete Man, a once-exalted magician who could do things in seven seconds that many of us could never do in a lifetime. He unwittingly gave his powers (and health) to a bunch of aliens, probably, and his uniform now consists solely of a suit and tie. Ed Davis is alright, at that price. The head of this operation is Laker great Byron Scott, whose attitude toward his team has fallen from “cautiously optimistic” to “casually accepting” to “Please, Lord, don’t let Kobe be mad at me.” His weary expression after games is now commonplace, much like a suburban parent trying to make breakfast for his children.
During a scrimmage in practice on Thursday, Kobe, who doesn’t show up to practice terribly often as a way of saving himself for games, reportedly referred to his teammates as “soft like Charmin,” which prompted an excellent bit of cross-promotion on the part of the toilet paper manufacturer’s Twitter account:
3. Splash rules everything around me: To say that Golden State is on fire would be a gross and ill-advised understatement. The Warriors are fully engulfed, raging so elegantly in Northern California that Smokey the Bear may need to issue a national call to action. Steph Curry is Steph Curry, the wiry genius whose jump shot is monsoon-wet. Klay Thompson is a possible All-Star, a perplexing swing man who has stepped up his game appropriately on both sides of the floor. Around them, a supporting cast fills the gaps like sunlight into a dark room, the team statistics this season are mesmerizing: as of this writing, the Warriors are third in the league in points per game, second in rebounding, third in assists and fifth in points allowed. They have given Head Coach Steve Kerr the best start of any coaching career in league history, literally shooting out of the gates to a 19-2 record, and they are currently sitting on a fifteen-game winning streak. We all know the Western Conference is and has been superior for quite some time; the problem has always been separating those teams from each other. The Spurs set the standard, and they are the defending champions, but they sit at sixth in conference. The Warriors might just have all the pieces to finally shift the Western tide away from San Antonio for the first time in a decade, and in any case, Golden State will be fun to watch, as always.
Side note: David Lee drinks Modelo.