Hercules Strangles the Nemean Lion, Peter Paul Rubens
Half-mortal, half-divine, the Greek divine hero Heracles, better known by the Roman translation, Hercules, is best remembered for his remarkable strength and willingness to carry out seemingly impossible tasks. At the behest of King Eurystheus, the hero is said to have completed the feats which became known as his Labours. Over the course of twelve years, Hercules slayed a lion, stole some apples and captured a vicious dog, among other extraordinary tasks.
Seemingly mortal, nevertheless divine, the Greek guard Giannis Antetokounmpo is becoming known for his remarkable length and ability to carry out heretofore impossible tasks for the Milwaukee Bucks. At the behest of his coach, Jason Kidd, Giannis is undertaking laborious missions of his own, already pushing the boundaries of what a point guard is and can be in today’s NBA.
“Once a Knick, always a Knick.”
These are the words emblazoned across a picture the New York Knicks chose to post in celebration of Amar’e Stoudemire signing a one-day contract on Tuesday so that he could retire with the franchise he helped revitalize in the summer of 2010. At 33, the man who once posted a picture of himself bathing in red wine decided he had had enough of basketball, or perhaps that basketball had had enough of him.
Few in the history of professional basketball embody the kind of paradox he does. To a certain generation of NBA fans, he represents one very distinct, dynamic kind of player; to another, ever-so-slightly generation, he represents a broken promise, an undoing not entirely or even at all his own, but a bulky set of talcum shoulders on which to rest blame nonetheless.
I love the game of basketball for its subtle artistry and the supreme level of skill necessary to exceed at it, not unlike being a musician, a physician or an astronaut. In no other basketball league in the world is the competition greater, obviously, than in the National Basketball Association. These people are the absolute best of the best, and the webs they weave nightly, from Kyrie Irving’s magisterial through-the-legs assists to Ray Allen’s legendarily perfect follow-through on a jump shot, can drive a fan up the wall with wonder, reducing him or her to an adolescent curiosity in which questions become essentially rhetorical. With the NBA preseason right around the corner, the time has come for everyone with a voice to chime in with predictions and perspectives. We at TwH are no different.
We (I) will break down each division, listing the teams in the order in which I believe they will finish the regular season. There will be plenty of room for dispute, as there always is, and from the start I must concede that this is an imperfect art. There are far too many variables involved in an 82-game season to know everything, but we will do the best we can with what we know now. Sometimes it may only take a gut feeling to push one team over another. Prepare for anything. And so we begin, in the Atlantic Division.