He's just been one-upped by Around the Horn supporting character J.A. Adande. Thanks to reader Peej for the tip.
This is really, really, really bad.
This March, NBA Has the Madness
My editor sent down a list of games for me to cover, and that March 21 Rockets-Warriors assignment didn't bother me at all. Yes, I know the significance of the date. It's the first Friday of the NCAA tournament. One of the best days on the sports-viewing calendar. When I bought my comfy leather theater seats, I envisioned this day, the hours I would spend staring at the screen. Only this time, I don't mind missing that sport's holy day one bit.
I'm not as excited about the road to the Final Four as I am about the final eight weeks of the NBA regular season.
Everyone in this wonderful country of ours is, of course, entitled to their opinion. At the same time: you're wrong. Very wrong. And I'm saying this as a big NBA fan, too. I'm not some kind "football and NASCAR are the only real sports and if you like anything else yer a big pussy" kind of guy. I like the NBA almost as much as I like MLB or the NFL. In my opinion, the NBA's regular season clowns on college basketball's regular season and the NBA playoffs are just a slight step below March Madness. Wire-to-wire, therefore, I think the NBA puts out a much more entertaining product. So with all that said, let me reiterate: J.A. Adande, you are a fucking idiot.
This year the pro game doesn't just offer better players, it offers better games and better story lines.
Such as: how many Eastern Conference playoff teams will actually have winning records? At what point will teams actually start playing like there's something on the line? Why is everyone who plays for the Spurs such a little bitch? Must see TV.
As soon as Tennessee ended Memphis' quest for an undefeated season, this year's festivities became Just Another Tournament. We won't get a chance to see perfection.
Why is just another tournament capitalized? Is there some acronym joke in there that I'm missing out on? And for what it's worth, a team has entered the tournament undefeated exactly once in the last 28 years. (UNLV, 1991.) So if that's your complaint, you're clearly not the March Madness fan you made yourself out to be in that awkward intro.
There's no fully loaded Florida, Duke or UNLV going for a repeat.
Whoop-de-shit. Did anyone besides UF's fans enjoy last year's tournament that much more because of their repeat pursuit?
There are no truly great teams that will be remembered by anyone but their fans a few years from now.
Yeah, but that Suns-76ers matchup on March 28 is guaranteed to be one for the ages! (J.A. specifically names this game as one he's excited about watching in lieu of NCAA games in a sidebar to the article.)
In the NBA, the Rockets are working on the league's longest winning streak since 1972.
True, that is interesting. Probably about 10% as interesting as March Madness, but still, I'll give credit where it's due.
The Lakers are trying to lay the foundation for a new dynasty.
Apparently being bounced out of the playoffs early a couple seasons in a row, then being one of the best teams in league 3/4 of the way through a subsequent regular season now qualifies you for dynasty-foundation-laying status. Man, if only my Nuggets could put together a little win streak and get themselves to the top of the Western Conference heap, they'd be laying the foundation for a new dynasty too.
The Spurs are trying to put a cap on theirs.
Here's my impression of a person watching a Spurs game: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Get it?
The Celtics are trying to do their banners proud.
What? Are they good this year? I hadn't heard.
LeBron James is walking across the bridge from potential to reality.
He's been doing that for like three years, dummy. It's still not more interesting than March Madness.
For a change, none of these stories can simply wait until the playoffs.
Actually, they will have to wait until the playoffs. And 99% of American sports fans will not be bothered by this at all.
There's too much on the line right now, when seeds can be gained or lost, pathways determined. All you need to know about the importance of this month is that Kobe Bryant would rather play with an out-of-whack finger than get surgery and miss any of these games.
That's right, folks. A hyper-competitive, mega type-A superstar who's working on cementing his legacy as an all time great would rather be on the court playing than sitting out to heal. Therefore: the NBA's regular season is better than March Madness.
Not that there's anything wrong with the tournament. I love filling out my brackets. I even love it when they get shredded by an out-of-the-blue upset. I love getting off a plane in March and seeing people crowd around the airport bar TV sets, with the sound of high-tops squeaking on the court coming from the speakers.
Good, yes, these are all reasons many people (especially airport employees) like the tournament.
But my first love is the game of basketball, and it's being played at a much higher level in the NBA.
No. Stinking. Way. Shut the front door. Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally. You're telling me... players in the NBA... are better at basketball than college athletes? This is outrageous. Everything I thought I knew has just changed. Down is up. Left is right. Basements are full of natural light. Jay Mariotti is awesome. Carlos Mencia is funny.
Instead of watching Derrick Rose and imagining how good a point guard he might be, I'd rather witness the mastery of the position demonstrated by Chris Paul and Deron Williams right now. Michael Beasley can be. Tim Duncan is.
Compared to 99.9999% of the population, Rose is already an amazing point guard and Beasley already "is." The difference between those guys and Paul/Williams/Duncan is relatively small. If you're going to pick on something, sheesh, pick on NCAA role players compared to their NBA counterparts. The gap between the average NBA 10th man and NCAA 10th man is astronomical compared to differences between the stars. Not that that even matters.
Ultimately it comes down to this: The pros make shots. As intense and competitive as that Memphis-Tennessee game was, neither team shot 40 percent.
Both teams in the one NCAA game Adande watched this year had bad shooting nights. Therefore: fuck March Madness. Bring on the Celtics visiting the Hornets on March 21! (Memphis for the entire year: 46.6% on field goals. Tennessee: 46.1%.)
Normally the tournament compensates for the talent gap with extra passion.
Not this year. Turns out, none of the players, coaches, student bodies, or alums give a shit anymore. Weird timing, huh? Why, it was just last year that the tournament was as exciting as ever. Now people are really just looking forward to getting up and going to work every morning.
Win or else your season and/or career comes to an end.
That's still how it works.
But in this season's NBA, in which no team's playoff seeding is assured, there's something to be gained or lost every night. Add stakes to skills and you get phenomenal ball.
In the West, 8 teams are fighting for 9 playoff spots. Yawn. In the East, everyone outside the top four teams knows that they suck, are extremely lucky to still be in contention, and are getting bounced the fuck out in the first round. Are you really going to call that "something to be gained or lost every night?"
Seeing a college kid dive for old U is one thing. Seeing Shaq hurdle seats because he wants one last ring for his collection is something beyond.
The college kid is playing for nothing more than tuition, and will be selling insurance in a year or two. But he'll always remember that year he led his mid-major team full of nobodies to the Sweet 16 and became a household name for just a few days. Shaq, on the other hand, wants to buy another diamond-encrusted bidet. He knows he can afford to do so with a playoff bonus. You're right- that second storyline is a lot more compelling than the first.
For every day of the tournament until the championship game gets that Monday night to itself, I can point you to an NBA game that could make for better viewing. (Read the table on the right to see what I mean.)
I've already referenced it twice. Click on the story link and check it out yourself in its entirety if you need a good chuckle.
There's no guarantee that all of these matchups will turn out to be great.
But the pro games I promise you won't be subjected to:Complete and total lack of defense from many teams until the fourth quarter? Hilariously preferential refereeing for superstars? Constant offensive sets consisting of nothing but isolation kick-outs? Oh, wait. You definitely will be subjected to all of those.
Obsessive coaches hogging the attention, forcing their players to stick with systems while mismatches scream to be exploited. This drives me crazy. I almost want to smuggle some Detriot Pistons game DVDs to the kids just to show them it's OK to break from the offense to take advantage of a weak defender.
How often is this an issue? I'm no Phil Jackson, so someone feel free to explain to me the extent to which this is some horrific epidemic at the college level. I'm guessing that it really isn't.
Excessive use of the word "Cinderella." It comes up in the NBA, just not as often. Google search hits for "George Mason Cinderella": 355,000. Google search hits for "Golden State Warriors Cinderella": 70,000. And I dare any writer to go up to Stephen Jackson and compare him to a fairy-tale princess.
Fuck, that doesn't prove anything. I dare you to make eye contact with Stephen Jackson from less than 15 feet away. It doesn't really matter what you say to the guy, he's probably going to rip off your arms and beat you with them regardless. And really, who is complaining about "Cinderella?" Anybody? Anybody besides J.A., and maybe people like Dennis Miller or Larry David who complain about everything?
Any of that Duke floor-slapping stuff. Although I have to say, the most satisfying college basketball moment I've seen in a while came during Saturday's Duke-North Carolina game, shortly after Greg Paulus did a floor slap. Danny Green threw down a Lipton's special dunk on him that said, "Slap this." That was so next level. I hit the rewind button on my DVR so much I nearly drained the battery. That enriched my life immensely. Thank you, Mr. Green.
What the hell are you talking about? Stop. Acting like anyone really gives a shit about Duke's celebration tactics is like saying "much has been made" of the Celtics' African mantra/motto thingy this year.
The problem with the NCAA tournament is that it doesn't deliver Duke vs. North Carolina. The committee is required to spread conference teams as far as possible, to put off a potential meeting until the later rounds -- so we get a bunch of matchups with no history.
I don't even need to explain how dumb that is. If you can't figure out why, let me give you two hints from two different angles, phrased as questions:
1. Do you think the point of the NCAA tourney is to determine a champion, or recreate historic conference matchups that already happen twice a season?
2. Remember all those great Nuggets/Mavericks games from back in the day? Or how about all the times the Cavaliers and Magic have gone toe to toe? Woo hooo!
J.A. is evidently one of those people who thinks that every year, the World Series should be the Yankees vs. Red Sox, the Super Bowl should be Cowboys vs. Steelers, and the Olympic hockey final should be USA vs. USSR.
Because the players turn over so often and the scheduling is inconsistent, it's hard to develop good national rivalries in college hoops.
Yet somehow, it's still easy to effectively shut down productivity in most places of work that employ sports fans for two Thursdays and two Fridays each March. How does the NCAA manage to pull it off? My theory: steroids.
The NBA loads up on the conference and divisional matchups as the schedule winds down. This season promises to be a slugfest all the way through.
Sure, I'll be watching the NCAAs during the off hours. But when NBA duty calls, I won't feel I'm missing out. I'll be where the real action is.
You will be alone. Everyone else will be where the allegedly fake action is, which we find to be about 1,000 times more compelling. Pretty strange- I guess you're just that much smarter than the rest of us.
Seriously, what a dipshit.