The days are getting longer. They look short but continue for ages. At once, a new day will be upon you and gone almost before it happened. They pile up, the days, and the blurring of colors at dusk can just as easily be the memories of events that slip between the cracks, regardless of importance.
When we think about the things that are familiar, we can have a sense of present-nostalgia: yes, I know that deli; of course, I’ve seen that player many times; indeed, I fell out without ever actually falling in with a group of people during that game. We think we know who we are, and we assert that to the world, only for the world to remind us of a different reality.
For a time almost destined to be locked inside of itself, quarantined or otherwise, the Philadelphia 76ers are a perfect emblem. The sense of what the Sixers are, or were, or will be(?) has shifted in the various allegedly-conscious organs of fans and onlookers nearly by the minute ever since Ben Simmons essentially ruled himself AWOL. Joel Embiid is currently enjoying an MVP-caliber campaign, this time as earnest as ever, but – thanks to old pal Daryl Morey – here comes James Harden, and the bevy of his flavor in seeming full force.
On Sunday, arguably the greatest player ever stepped in, hunkered down and defeated a worthy opponent, one whose run in recent months has faced heavy skepticism and much detraction. Though the favored prevailed, there was enough seeded doubt to keep things interesting. As it stood, however, the king remained the king, until further notice.
Indeed, the Los Angeles Lakers won their sixteenth NBA championship and seventeenth as a franchise since 1946, tying the Boston Celtics for the most of any franchise, with LeBron James claiming his fourth title and fourth Finals MVP. If he isn’t already there, Anthony Davis is very nearly at a point where his Hall of Fame candidacy is ensured at 27. Against the tapestry of a global pandemic and election year tensions stateside, the NBA committed to the bubble, and the Lakers committed to defense in Game 6. Sometimes, it seems, lockdowns work.
Brad Mills/USA Today Sports
Devoid of context, if I asked you how things were going in Washington, D.C., you, as a reader of this website on whom I’m about to project a few beliefs you should probably objectively hold anyway, would likely rattle off something like the following: “The leader is inept; the major people involved hate working with each other; everybody is working against the greater interests of the people they’re supposed to be working on behalf of, to the degree that they only tolerate each other for the sake of image; any good thing that happens is purely incidental and doesn’t change my view of anyone involved.”
To a degree, I’d agree, without clarification. Specifically, though, the Washington Wizards have been the greatest thing that has ever happened to the late period Jimmy Butler Minnesota Timberwolves. John Wall began proceedings by showing up to Team USA practice in the summer looking like someone who had just spent an inordinate amount of time at Reagan National Airport. Despite a win against the feisty Clippers on Tuesday night, it hasn’t gotten much better.
Thomas B. Shea – USA TODAY Sports
Potential is a fickle mistress. In the right hands, she can grant you the world, mold you into a giant, open doors where once there were merely plastered walls. Precocious potential can just as easily buckle under the conspiratorial weights of onlookers, both the hopeful and the atheistic. It takes more than a little bit of luck to successfully extract talent from potential, with many left wondering whether the pursuit is alchemical in nature. We’ve covered this before, of course, but it’s worth doubling back anyway.
When surveying the biggest stories left to contemplate during the dwindling NBA regular season, one sees quite the smorgasbord of offerings: the Golden State Warriors’ courtship of 73 victories°, Kevin Durant’s impending free agency¹ and a teammate dispute in Los Angeles that somehow pulls the double magic trick of 1) dimming the spotlight on Kobe, and 2) making Iggy Azalea a sympathetic figure. Strange days, indeed.
AP Photo/David J. Phillip
The image of the gunslinger is one of classic American lore. A grizzled veteran of saloon shootouts and vigilante justice, he walks with a distinct swagger and carries himself with pride, knowing he is merely a poker game gone awry from coming face to face with his demise.
It seems that gunslingers will always dictate the history of the West. The barroom brawl that just concluded in Houston has left one team dazed and the other unfazed.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays to you and yours. Josh Smith received a most pleasant Christmas gift in being cut by Detroit only to end up in Houston next to former AAU teammate Dwight Howard and the rest of the gunning Rockets. Skeptics attribute Smith’s exit to playing out of his comfort zone and generally treating the rim with disdain, to which he says, “Whatever.” Elsewhere, the NBA Christmas Day slate proved to be underwhelming, and some guy on Twitter drove 50 minutes to defend Russell Westbrook, or what’s left of Kobe’s honor, or something.
Christmas is traditionally a time for family, gift-giving and eggnog guzzling. But not my Christmas. Not this year. With an exceptional slate of NBA games, featuring the league’s most eligible bachelorettes noteworthy franchises, this was the type of day when you fake some indigestion and sneak away to watch some basketball.
If only I was so lucky.
I had only suffered through a sloppy first half between the Brooklyn Nets and Chicago Bulls before the arrival of my little cousin, who came wielding his favorite Christmas gift. A DVD of the classical musical, Annie.
How do you say no to a little kid who wants to spend his Christmas watching his new favorite movie? I’m no Grinch, so I surrendered the television and my grand basketball-watching plans to my cousin.
Rather than obsessing over transition offenses, I spent my Christmas engrossed in show tunes. As the old saying goes, the best laid plans of mice and men usually end in watching a musical about orphans.
But this doesn’t mean I didn’t follow the games or miss out on the ugly sweater party the NBA tried to pass off as holiday uniforms. While I’ll still be breaking down the best and worst from the Christmas day games, in honor of my cousin, this installment will be Annie-themed.
Enjoy, and happy holidays!
As we inch closer toward 2014, we see some light in a dark, injury-filled NBA winter. This is Damian’s world, and we’re all just living in it. Blazers gonna blaze. Meanwhile, Ray Allen has made the right choice, as he has been wont to do throughout his career. Also, Omer Asik is about to make some fantasy owners, and one actual owner, very happy.
Division-by-division we go, with the emphasis of this edition placed on the Southwest Division, one of the most competitive in the league. Will the Big Fundamental tutor Kawhi Leonard in the nuances of the Spurs’ culture of excellence? James Harden’s development will continue, but how will Houston gel following the Dwightmare? Is Dirk finished (and what will Mark Cuban do now, if that is the case)? Will Anthony Davis ever manscape his trademarked unibrow? Is Marc Gasol finally – finally – the BEST Gasol? TwH addresses these questions and more.