Since October 25th, when the NBA season began, a few things have changed. Some are minute; perhaps you switched from white wine to red, took up yoga or bought a new pair of dress shoes that you’ll save for just the proper occasion. Others, less so, but you can read about that in the oblique, unchecked vacuum that convinced you the world was one way when, in fact, it’s the other, at least to a large enough plurality for that to matter.
Much of what we presumed to be true is shaken, even stirred, while the rest is magnified to such an extent as to be distorted beyond reasonable comprehension. What we face now, in basketball as in life, is adjustment to the new normal.
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.
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.
The Los Angeles Lakers were in trouble. Through the first ten games of this season, one of the league’s two most decorated teams in history was 1-10 and had become a punchline via the play of its fearless, sociopathic leader, Kobe Bryant. People were pointing fingers. Coach Byron Scott refused to acknowledge the league’s most efficient shot, the corner three, in any capacity, allowing Kobe and others to settle for long twos late in the shot clock. Kobe became festively jovial about his team’s historic incompetence. The Clippers officially became the team of Los Angeles. Carlos Boozer became an important cog in a professional basketball team, and it wasn’t the Philadelphia 76ers. The skies over Manhattan Beach, once a clear purple and gold, filled with dark clouds.
But then, a hero emerged. The perfect antidote to the Lakers’ struggles, it turns out, was swag, and only one man had the power to rescue Kobe Bryant from himself. That man is Nick Young, and this week’s 3-Pointer is dedicated (almost) entirely to him.
Courtesy of wina.com
The Philadelphia 76ers are bad, and not in the Michael Jackson/Shaft way. The Sixers are now historically horrendous, on an NBA record-tying 26-game losing streak, but fans in the Illadelph are not publicly chastising Michael Carter-Williams or staging protests against Sam Hinkie outside the Wells Fargo Center. While they hang their heads in public, as in the picture above, the 76ers are smirking in private, the prospect of a too-bright future potentially awaiting. Elsewhere, Swaggy P is the victim of hubris, as so often happens, and don’t sleep on Dirk should the Mavs make the playoffs.
Courtesy of AP Images
Hope you’ve had a supreme 2013 and that there is more in store for 20-1-4. LeBron is turning 29, having already accomplished enough to merit Hall of Fame induction if he retired tomorrow. What is in store for the King, maybe halfway through his career? Also, James Harden as the theoretical unstoppable force facing an entirely movable object in free throws, and Andrew Bynum is this year’s George Sauer, probably without the journalism aspirations. But you never know with that guy, and that hair.