July 18, 2016, 8:16 am
Before we get started with another edition of Last Week This Morning, I’d like to personally dedicate the following basketball-related words to former NBA combo guard Erick Strickland. Nothing bad happened to him, he’s still totally alive (as far as I know), but this is for him. Thank you for all the good times, Mr. Strickland. Let’s roll.
A Millennial, On Tim Duncan
First and foremost, I may or may not actually be a millennial. I don’t know what year the ‘official’ millennial cut-off is, but I know how the Internet works and you probably want me off your damn lawn, so I think I fit the bill. Anyway, back to Timmy.
For basketball connoisseurs of a certain age, my age, there is a perceived Tim Duncan-fandom timeline that is totally accurate. As a fan of when things are overblown and inaccurate, it pains me to admit that the consensus Tim Duncan-fandom timeline is so perfect. That timeline is as follows.
As a kid, let’s say, pre-teen, Tim Duncan was THE WORST. The Spurs won, and they were ‘boring’, and they totally lucked out, or at the very least ‘gamed’ the lottery system in order to land Duncan in the draft. My perception is a little clouded by the fact that I grew up in Boston and Tim Duncan was ‘supposed’ to be ‘ours’. The Spurs stole Tim Duncan, got it?
As a mid-teen, non-adult, the Spurs and Tim Duncan were still boring, they were still hated, but now they were feared. That hate actually started to transition from irrational hatred to ‘I would really hate to see my favorite team play the Spurs because I already know they’re going to lose.’
As an adult, and I use that term very loosely, Tim Duncan and the Spurs turned into an NBA constant. As a society, we LOVE nostalgia, and Tim Duncan was that nostalgia, only he was (until the last season or so) just as good as you remembered him. In an era where the feeling of nostalgia is often better than the product or thing you are nostalgic for, Duncan actually lived up to that feeling. As Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett, two other iconic NBA stars of a ‘millennial’ fans’ childhood, broke down and found themselves in losing organizations, Duncan stayed nearly at the top of his personal NBA game, and just as important, stayed NBA relevant because the Spurs continued on as a NBA Finals contender. That just doesn’t happen.
Appreciation is the perfect word, I think. My era of hoop-obsessor’s started to appreciate Duncan’s success. He was like Dom Cobb’s spinning top totem from ‘Inception’. Tim Duncan was still around, still performing on the highest level, so I couldn’t possibly be growing up. 19 years later, one less Tim Duncan, and I’ve never felt older.
Hack-A-Shaq Rule Change
As a lot of you probably know, particularly considering the fact that this is a weekly column, which makes every take of mine inherently late, the NBA made a few minor modifications to what the internet has dubbed it’s ‘Hack-A-Shaq’ rules.
With emphasis on the word ‘minor’, here you go:
If you’re leaving that description with a ‘meh’ taste in your mouth, your taste buds are working as intended. The NBA took the most boring and non-issue solving route, and while potentially frustrating for plugged in NBA fans looking for a real solution, or no solution, the NBA probably did the smartest thing here. Hear me out.
The NBA technically changed the rules, allowing sport dudes everywhere to tell their sport dude buddies that ‘the NBA fixed the Hack-A-Shaq problem’, because no one reads beyond the headline. So, for the general public, it’s a win.
On the flip side, for old school hoopmen, they can rest easy knowing that the NBA didn’t actually change much of anything. The ‘they are professional basketball players, they should be able to shoot free throws!’ argument is still relevant. Congratulations, old school hoopers!
By doing essentially-nothing-but-something, the NBA can justifiably ‘wait for more data’ after the new rules take effect. They bought themselves a ton of time with hopes that all of this will make its way out of the game without having to do anything drastic, or upsetting the hardcore ‘they’re called free throws for a reason’ crowd. Smart move, NBA. Frustrating, but smart.