July 24, 2016, 8:27 pm
Hey folks! I just want to take a quick minute to thank the NBA for being so interesting on a weekly basis. It’s the offseason, the season is over, the draft is over, free agency is essentially over – I should have nothing of value to talk about, and you could certainly argue that there is nothing of value here to begin with, but at least this column’s valuelessness will have relevant NBA headlines in it. For that, I thank you, basketball.
The Olympics are great. All potential disasters in Rio aside, I cannot wait for Team USA basketball. I mean, I also cannot wait for Team USA badminton, but we’ll try to keep this on-brand. Basketball is great, the Olympics are great, thus Olympic basketball is super great.
Yeah, The United States of America should win the gold medal for basketball in Rio, and yet, the perceived lack of parity doesn’t really bother me. It’d be very interesting to see how this insane mixture of superstar basketball players react with each other if they were up against equal competition, but hey, it’s competitive, fun basketball during a month where we usually don’t have competitive, fun basketball, and that’s all right by me.
And just because Team USA should win, it doesn’t mean they will. They probably will, yes, but those last couple of rounds should be reasonably competitive, and as we see with March Madness every year, in a single elimination tournament, the most talented team doesn’t always win.
Besides, this is the first Olympic tournament for a lot of these guys, and beyond that, the players that are either Olympic, or FIBA veterans are stepping into a much larger role this summer. DeMarcus Cousins is a prime example. For a player who could use more help on his public image than just about anyone in the NBA, leading, or at the very last, largely impacting a Team USA gold medal could do wonders for his reputation. Not that he really cares, of course.
I also believe it is extremely therapeutic for Team USA players who play on perennial losers in the NBA. This year, only DeMarcus Cousins and Carmelo Anthony fit into that box, but you can’t help but feel like those guys need this more than anyone. Both the Knicks and Kings have failed to surround their stars with quality talent, yet they still take most of the blame for their NBA teams’ failures.
I’m just saying, it must feel good to play winning basketball again. To play basketball with good players, and without frustration, after years of 82 games of exactly that, has to be a much-needed breath of fresh air. They’ll have fun playing basketball again.
For DeMarcus Cousins, he’ll have fun playing basketball for the first time, maybe ever, and I think that sort of positive momentum could, if channeled, carry over into the NBA regular season.
And I didn’t even mention how fun some of these international Olympic teams are! And one perk of hosting the Olympics in Rio is that’ll you’ll get all sorts of funky tipoff times! Who doesn’t love 6 AM basketball? It’s going to be awesome. Did I mention that the Olympics are great? The Olympics are great. Also, I’m Greek. We get to walk first in the opening ceremony. That might have something to do with it.
The Charlotte Mess
I won’t pretend like I know every detail regarding the anti-LGBTQ legislature that forced Adam Silver to move the All-Star Game out of Charlotte, but I really respect his decision on a couple of different levels.
First and foremost, organizations, or in this case, associations, rarely put social justice over the bottom line. Of course, the NBA will still make bucket loads of money wherever they decide to host the All-Star Game, but I’m sure they would prefer it if everything just went according the plan they had laid out when Charlotte was announced as the host.
But beyond the dollars, the thing I respect the most about the NBA is that they are trying. They are trying to be socially conscience, they are trying to do the right thing, and we can argue for days over what is the right or wrong thing, I certainly can’t answer that question, but I am so proud of the NBA for putting themselves out there like this.
While other sports leagues, and similarly large, if not larger organizations, sit on the sidelines and do nothing and say nothing about nothing, at least the NBA is telling you where they stand. You can like it, you can hate it, but at least you know.
And I feel for NBA fans in Charlotte. I really do. They just lost out on a once in a lifetime experience over something they cannot control. It’s a bummer. I do think the NBA will return to Charlotte, and make this up to those NBA fans someday, but that doesn’t really take away the sting of having something like this ripped away from you.
If you want more coherent thoughts on this whole mess, I’d like to direct you to Tom Ziller’s column on SB Nation. It’s not an easy topic to discuss, but I thought Tom did an excellent job looking at the NBA’s decision from all the right angles.