The Van Gundy is back! It’s been awhile, but since the NBA lockout is officially over, we decided to end our lockout as well. What’s that? Nobody cares? Wrong, NBA Cares.
Much has happened in the sporting world since our last post. Aaron Rodgers took over the world, Tim Tebow took over America, and Joe Paterno took over his living room. But let’s be honest, our site name is The Van Gundy. We don’t have time to talk about any of that right now. We want to talk about the return of the gorgeous, yet far too often sleazy, temptress that is the NBA.
Much will be said on these annals in the weeks and months to come, but for now, here are the five things on our editor Bryson’s mind as we charge towards Christmas:
1) What is going on?! The NBA is back, and at the same time it appears to be blowing itself up. The league supposedly locked out the players to show them who the real boss is, and yet the first few days of free agency have been monopolized by big stars dictating where they want to go. David Stern is turning into some weird hybrid of Brett Favre and Richard Nixon. Players seem on the verge of reenacting the Malice in the Palace on their owners. Brandon Roy is retiring. Half ofDenver’s roster is stuck in China. Ricky Rubio. Blake Griffin. Derrick Rose. The Kardashians. Frankly, there are more storylines worth exploring as we approach the season than there are games. And yet somehow the league’s blocking of the deal sending Chris Paul to LA (which most everyone agrees was a fair trade) has claimed the headlines. Again, WHAT IS GOING ON?!
This email from my buddy Tommy sums up what Stern has done to his legacy and to the league this week: “The past 24 hours has made the NBA look like a bigger joke then the whole 6 months of the lockout. I can’t even describe how ridiculous it seems to me. I have no words. This is unbelievable. I think last year may have been the end of the NBA as we know it. Stern needs to get his [stuff] together if he wants any hope of salvaging this mess.”
2) Remember the playoffs from last year? You know, one of the top ten greatest playoffs of all time? In all of the hullabaloo going on right now, people forget why people were so excited about the NBA to come back. The last two teams standing in the summer were the Heat and the Mavs. The Heat appear to be reloading. Shane Battier signing with Miami may have sealed the deal for me. I don’t see how they would have lost last year if they had Battier on that team. And with one year under their belt, and with LeBron realizing he sucks as the villain, I think the Finals is the Heat’s to lose. The Mavs however appear to be heading in the wrong direction (for now). Tyson Chandler seems all but gone, and if he is (and assuming they get no worthwhile additions), I don’t see how the Mavs can repeat. Of course, Dirk Nowitzki has now tasted the ultimate glory. Is he content with just one title? I’m not about to limit the man who went from the best European basketball player to perhaps the greatest PF of all time in a month span last year. Are you?
3) Of course the problem facing the Mavs and other older teams is two pronged. On one side, we are looking at a grueling lockout compressed season. On the other, there are a lot of young teams ready to break through. The Thunder and (gulp) Grizzlies still have progress to make in the West, and if they make the improvements needed, the Mavs, Lakers, and Spurs don’t have room to slip. Things don’t look good for the older teams.
And Kevin Durant does appear ready to take the mantle. I would argue he is already the most liked player in the league right now. He has the talent, the passion, and the right situation (assuming Westbrook doesn’t go all Kobe on him) to win it all this year. If you thought NBA fans got behind Dirk Nowitzki last year when he took on the new Evil Empire in South Beach, can you imagine the type of support KD would garner? Plus, Oklahoma City is an actual underdog town, an actual small market team. Could there be any more fitting matchup to represent the struggle between big market, NBA players’ ego, and small market team basketball? Maybe, but not one that has a realistic chance. By the way, yes I think we’ll see a Thunder-Heat matchup in the Finals.
In the East the Bulls are one good signing (or trade away) from being a threat to the Heat. Beyond that, I really don’t see anyone in the East having a chance against the Heat. Who, the Celtics? They’re done barring some sort of miracle (and/or shady trade).
4) Jimmer. As a BYU alum, and lifelong NBA lover, I really couldn’t be any more excited about Jimmer Fredette’s career (well, unless he played with the Jazz). All the talk about what he’ll be (or won’t be) in the NBA is about to come to an end. Is he the next JJ Redick? Is he the next Adam Morrison? Stephen Curry? We’re about to find out. For the record, I think he’ll be a cross between Drazen Petrovic, Dan Majerle, and Chauncey Billups.
5) There will literally be so many things going on with basketball this season that I will either have to force myself to ration my consumption, or I will lose my wife and/or job. People can talk all they want about the league being in trouble and the lockout being a disaster (both are true), but the simple fact that there is so much to talk about right now and in the months to come, I can’t think of a better time to be an NBA fan. It’s a mess, sure, but who says messes are all that bad. We’re a nation that loves sports, scandal, celebrities, and drama. The NBA right now is a perfect storm of all those things, and it’s about to come our way. Go grab your raincoat.