Courtesy of NBA.com
Board Man came; Board Man saw; Board Man conquered, and then Board Man got paid. In winning the championship last season, Kawhi Leonard helped the Toronto Raptors take advantage of the exact circumstances required to beat the last three editions of the Golden State Warriors. He celebrated in kind, reflected on the state of basketball and promptly left town, fishing Paul George out of Oklahoma City and throwing the NBA into unfamiliar territory in the process.
It is refreshing to look upon the league without the particular tint of grey that the KD-era Warriors inspired. There are at least a half-dozen teams with legitimate claims to being title contenders going into this year. So many players moved that it will take some time for the average fan to get acquainted with each roster, something the players themselves are likely still doing. #TheProcess continues, even if the Sixers are among those title-worthy teams.
Soon, you’ll be able to deep-fake your way into believing that your team won the championship last year, and nobody will be able to tell you otherwise because, look, it’s right there on the screen, that really is Frank Ntilikina hoisting a Finals MVP trophy. Until that time arrives, however, we have to look ahead, rather than look back at an unreal past. Maybe we are doing both either way. Maybe the great takeaway is that there is light, somewhere.
Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports
To get this out of the way up front: the NBA shrinking in the face of one nation in which it has interests – one whose interests happen to conflict with those of what the American ideal is supposed to be, mind you, as it suppresses the protests of people in Hong Kong, facing potential extradition to the mainland, where prisoners’ cases can be ignored entirely – makes the league’s put-on image of empowerment look transparently weak.
That Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey sparked the current, ostensibly bipartisan discourse with a fairly innocuous tweet seems to say more about that nation, its insecurity as a world power and its desire for overwhelming power on a world stage, than it does about anyone who has anything to say about it, but the NBA is at some fault here, and commissioner Adam Silver is in an even more unique position than he was when the Donald Sterling circus unfolded five years ago.
With a deep breath – and I know it’s complicated to dig out of that tunnel, even if human rights shouldn’t be – I would like to move on to the Rockets themselves, and the fascinating approach(es) they may take this season in integrating the likes of, ehem, Russell Westbrook into their offense.
(Jorgen Angel/Redferns – courtesy of Pitchfork)
Have you ever noticed that the snare drum never quite hits usually in “Sunshine Of Your Love”? Maybe you have; Ginger Baker never would have assumed that you would expect something like that, given the circumstances. Circumstance is everything, and what you don’t notice can alternately end up killing you, or being the very reason you feel love.
Baker, best known as the drummer of Cream, passed away on Sunday at the age of 80. Anger and belligerence are as key to his story as they are to those of his dairy bandmates’, and Baker was perhaps the most prominent person that enabled the expansion of what we thought a rock trio could be. Getting Jack Bruce to run through a fuzz box helped, sure; throwing Ginger Baker as many drums and cymbals as he could handle, though, was the key revelation to tying the British blues rock push together.