I used the word analysis, not knowledge--he unquestionably has a lot of NBA knowledge. (Contrast this with the amount of MLB or NFL knowledge he has, which is for all intents and purposes FUCKING NONE.) So this post isn't going to resemble the ones I just wrote about that tire fire of a Hall of Fame article. That was mostly "Holy shit, you know absofuckinglutely nothing about any of this." This will be mostly "It's nice that you know all of this, but you have absofuckinglutely no idea how to present that knowledge." Also, he's a shitty writer, but we all knew that already.
When I wrote my basketball book four years ago,
2. Wilt's 55-rebound game.
3. Russell's 11 rings.
4. The '72 Lakers winning 33 straight.
5. George McGinnis's 422 turnovers in one season.
6. Wilt's 100-point game.
7. Chicago's 72-win season.
8. Scott Skiles's 30-assist game.
9. Rasheed Wallace earning 41 technicals in one season.
10. Jose Calderon missing just three free throws in 2009 (for a record 98.1 percentage).
I believed those first five records were unbreakable, while the next five were conceivably breakable (even if it wasn't likely). So yeah, I thought that 33-gamer was lasting for the rest of my life. In nearly seven decades of NBA action, no team had come within two-thirds of approaching it.
That's the ultimate legacy of their 27-game winning streak,
WINNER: Wednesday night
Just so you know: I doubled up on my anti-hyperbole medication these past two days. I talked to a few hoops junkies whom I trust completely.
Repeat: Wednesday night's game was the greatest NBA regular-season game ever played.
You had the underdog Bulls playing without their two best players against the most famous NBA team since Jordan's Bulls.
Great start. What made this game so memorable? Well, the Heat were a part of it, as they have been/will be a part of 81 other games this regular season.
You had the best player in 20 years at the peak of his powers.
He also played/will play in Miami's other 81 games.
You had a national TV audience
If you include games televised by NBATV, there are like ten nationally televised games every week.
and unparalleled stakes:
No. The stakes are much higher when you've got a late season game between two teams fighting for one playoff spot, like, for example, the game between the Lakers and Rockets on 4/17 might end up being. The stakes don't get much higher than that. Even if the winner is unlikely to do any damage when they reach the playoffs, getting there is a huge deal to fans and team management. Coaches get fired/extended and players get cut/re-signed over the difference between making and missing the playoffs. I would say that if the Heat streak was at 32 when they arrived in Chicago, rather than 27, that would boost Bill's case.
Miami approaching an unapproachable record, the smell of history looming over everything,
HOW WILL WE LOOK BACK ON THAT RELATIVELY POORLY PLAYED GAME IN TWENTY YEARS?
real greatness in the air.
You had an intensely proud Bulls team hoping to turn that game into a street fight (1980s basketball, reincarnated), as well as a genius defensive coach who understood exactly how to beat Miami (or at the very least, make them sweat out no. 28).
Without Rose, the Bulls are excruciating to watch this year. Thibodeau is a great coach and all, but he's unlikely to coach any game that makes me say "So glad I saw that!"
And you had Chicago's spectacular crowd, one of the few old-school NBA fan bases left
The fan bases of every successful team from a large market are pretty much the same. Chicago's fans were loud and awesome all game, but pretending that they treated the game any differently than Lakers/Knicks/Mavericks/Celtics fans would is dumb. I've been to Bulls games at United Center. The crowd is generally very good. Just like they are anywhere that has a lot of basketball fans and a good team. If anything, the best crowds are the ones from smaller markets, where 1) you get fewer bandwagon/transplant fans of the visiting teams, and 2) they have a chip on their shoulder because they hate the attention teams like the Heat get. The smaller market teams' attendance suffers more when they suck, naturally, but when they're good, those crowds are fucking nuts. You'd better believe Utah or Portland or Milwaukee's fans would have put on a hell of a show if the schedule makers had sent the Heat there last week.
that (a) understood the stakes,
Pacers and Grizzlies fans just wouldn't have understood the stakes! They wouldn't have! Bill's false stratification of things that are relatively uniform is fucking maddening. I need to point it out more often.
(b) would never sell their tickets on StubHub to Miami fans,
I'm sure that hundreds, and perhaps even a couple thousand of them did this. It was less noticeable on TV because both teams' apparel are same colors.
and (c) knew from experience exactly how to affect such a game.
Oh my God. Kill yourself. Yeah, I'm real sure that a huge chunk of the people at United Center that night were there for many games during the Jordan era, fifteen to twenty-five years ago. Make a list of every single person who attended a Bulls game during the 1997-98 season, Jordan's last. I bet those people made up less than 10% of the crowd during the Heat game. Furthermore, say the number was actually 90%--what special fucking knowledge would they have? Would they say to themselves and everyone else in their section "Hey gang! Let's cheer when the Bulls do good stuff and boo when the Heat do good stuff!" Bill Simmons is a fucking idiot of the highest order.