The National Basketball Association returns on Tuesday. No more pining for offseason trade rumors, no more youtubing funky dunks, no more wishing or waiting. The L has returned to entertain and enthrall.
This is probably falling on deaf ears to most people who are reading this, to which I have three things to say:
-If you don't like the NBA, you are very possibly racist. I know you're not trying to hear that, but the fact remains, you might have a subconscious aversion to seeing too many African Americans at one time, a comfort threshold if you will. Watch that video at the top again. Do you see a couple of guys joking around? Does it amuse or anger you? Think really hard.
-If you think the college game is better than the NBA game, you don't really know basketball, but I applaud your effort. The tournament is great, but I can only watch low-scoring, bricklaying, and lay-ups for so long.
-If you are unsure as to whether or not you like, or could like the NBA, I have compiled a list of 30 reasons to watch. Coincidentally, each of my reasons is an NBA team. There are 30 of them. 30 really good reasons to watch.
1. Boston Celtics
I know, I know. Too old, the big three can never play together, not enough bench depth, it failed for the Rockets. All I can say is that all of those excuses or questions are bullshit. These guys aren't old, they're in their prime. Their PRIME. People that say that they can't play together are confusing these three guys with Kobe Bryant. Not only can they play together, they play with one goal: to win. Nothing else. No personal glories matter to Garnett, Pierce, or Allen. You say to KG, "pass to Paul and we win" guess what's going to happen? You're going to see the best pass you've ever seen. These three guys are loyal, nice, fan-friendly, helpful to organizations, and have just had bad luck with the teams they've been on. Furthermore, they all have plenty of playoff experience, and have actually a halfway decent bench to back them up now. As much as I don't like the Red Sox or Patriots, I want to see the Kid, the Truth, and Jesus Shuttlesworth win rings. They, more than any other three people in the NBA, deserve them.
2. New York Knicks
Two words: Car Crash. Everybody rubbernecks as they pass a bad car crash, and that's what we will be doing this year with the Knicks. Man, just when you thought things couldn't get worse in the Garden, a woman sues the whole establishment for sexual harassment. It will actually be nice to see this team play basketball, just to see if they remember that it's what they get paid to do. Still, there's something alluring about this team. Little Nate Robinson jumping over people to get rebounds. David Lee playing hard on every play. Stephon Marbury (if you have not already done so, go to www.nypost.com and search for the 'Starbury Blogs.' It's well worth your time). And finally, Zach Randolph, simply an amazing offensive player.
3. Toronto Raptors
T-Dot hasn't really been fun since Vince Carter left, but after winning the division last year, things might actually be worth something in the great white north. Bosh is a great player, but doesn't respond well to double teams or zones. It will be interesting to see how he gets better this year. T.J. Ford remains one of the most electrifying players in the game. If you like to see teamwork, watch T.J. Ford. I think he racks up as many assists as he does just for fun. The rest of the team are great players that deserve more attention. Andrea Bargnani could end up being better than Dirk. Jose Calderon is a big, physical point guard who will be integral in Spain's international success, at least until Ricky Rubio grows up.
4. New Jersey Nets
Vince Carter, Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson. Seriously. In your face fun. Complimenting those guys are several young players that can be fun also.
5. Philadelphia 76ers
If you don't like watching Andre Iguodala play then fuck you.
6. Detroit Pistons
Oh yeah. Team players, great shooters. Passing, defense. More importantly, they have the three most entertaining words to say in basketball history: Rasheed. Muhfuckin. Wallace. Not only do I have a need for 'Sheed, but this team also has some other really entertaining players. Tayshaun Prince and Rip Hamilton. Also, Jason Maxiell is really starting to scare some people. He plays mad D, is super athletic, and will bring down a Shock and Awe dunk once a game.
7. Chicago Bulls
Kanye West. Wait, nevermind. Seriously though. No other team combines youth, speed, and shooting. You like Ben Wallace, you like Tyrus Thomas, you like Ben Gordon, you love Luol Deng. You don't know that you do, but you do. Oh, and for all of you "the college game is better" people out there, we also have Joakim "Joke" Noah for you.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers
We are all witnesses. We are. Seriously. We watched a 22-year-old single handedly drag his worthless team to the NBA finals last year. It wasn't a great finals, but experience counts for something. A year older and a year wiser with a more mature and trustworthy Daniel "Boobie" Gibson will serve for some fun games. If you don't watch at least one full game with LeBron James in it this year, your Sports watching privileges will be revoked.
9. Milwaukee Bucks
Michael Redd is still inventing ways to score. Desmond Mason is a 50-point-dunk waiting to happen. Andrew Bogut is surprisingly good and fun. Finally "Easy Yi," Yi "Ginandjuice" Jianlin is the biggest question mark coming into this season. It will be great to see how he holds up in the best basketball league in the universe.
10. Indiana Pacers
Jamaal Tinsley is good. Troy Murphy put out a rap CD. Jermaine O'Neal is still great. These games will be must-sees for J.O. alone.
11. Miami Heat
Shaquille O'Neal. Say it with me now. Shaquille O'Neal. Oh yeah, Dwyane Wade, too. And wait, wait for it...RICKY DAVIS!!! Ricky Davis on this team is hilarious. I can't wait to see how he fits in. Finally, it's a contract year for Whit Eboy, White Chocolate himself, Jason Williams.
12. Washington Wizards
Antawn Jamison is in a contract year. Caron "The Koran" Butler is back for the attack. Finally, Gilbert Arenas (if you have not already done so, go to www.nba.com, look under "bloggers" and scroll down to Gilbert Arenas' blog. It is simply amazing). Gilbert Arenas will not rest until he wins every award someone said he couldn't win. That, and he drains 35-footers for fun.
13. Orlando Magic
I don't no why people aren't more excited about this team. Sports Illustrated doesn't even have them making the playoffs, which is just plain silly. They have an MVP candidate in Dwight Howard. They have the $100Million Man in Rashard Lewis. Not only that, but they have a fantastic point guard in Jameer Nelson, and good outside shooting. This team is a dark horse to get to the finals. If you haven't watched a full game with Shard or D-Howitzer, you are missing out. These two combined for more than 350 dunks last year.
14. Atlanta Hawks
Very rarely can anybody say this and be serious, but the Hawks have some good things happening. Al Horford is as NBA ready as they come. Acie Law IV is a good ballhandler, defender, and his ice-blood is already renowned in the Basketball universe. Joe Johnson is quietly becoming one of the best scorers in the league. And just to have some fun, Josh. Muhfuckin. Smith. Oh yeah, and Speedy Claxton.
15. Charlotte Bobcats
Well, still trying to get used to pro ball on tobacco road. Either way, if you like the college game, you have to love this team. Name a great college team from this century, and the BETcats have one of their players. I especially like the move that Jordan made to bring in Jason Richardson, who will provide stability and leadership. (un?)Fortunately for everyone, Adam Morrison will not be playing this year, for he his hurt. For a refresher, these are some people to watch: Gerald Wallace is a fantasy machine in the mold of Shawn Marion. Emeka Okafor. Matt Carroll, D-League success story.
16. Denver Nuggets
You don't want to love this team. Your every gut instinct wants to decry them as thugs, and locker room terrorizers. You are wrong. This might be the most exciting team in basketball. Carmelo Anthony. Allen "The Answer (to a question nobody asked)" Iverson. J.R. Smith. Kenyon Martin. Marcus "The Cambyman Can" Camby. Nene. Eduardo Najera. Enjoy.
17. Utah Jazz
I don't want to love this team. I've always hated the Jazz. But they have some really fun players. Deron Williams just plain makes plays. Andrei "AK-47" Kirilenko caused some problems for the team in the offseason, but he only plays hard. Hustle, defense, fast breaks are things that make basketball fun, and AK great. Carlos Boozer can score on anyone, and can keep anyone from scoring. Mehmet Okur is one of the hardest players to accurately match up with in all of ball.
18. Portland Trailblazers
You can feel sorry for Portland. But first, let yourself feel sorry for everybody who watches basketball to have ourselves deprived of "Grandpa" Greg Oden this year. He could have used this year to develop, etc. But first, make sure that you understand that they still have last year's Rookie of the Year, Brandon Roy, as well as Travis Outlaw and LaMarcus Aldridge. Top it off with Steve Blake, and you have a recipe for fun.
19. Seattle Supersonics
The best college basketball player in recent memory (Kevin Durant) is teamed up with a good point guard (Luke Ridnour) and another rookie with tremendous upside (Jeff Green). They may not be immediately good, but fireworks will happen. Kevin Durant's improvement will most likely slake our Grandpa Oden withdrawal.
20. Minnesota Timberwolves
You don't know who Al Jefferson is, but you will. Combine him with last year's dunk contest winner (Gerald Green), Randy Foye, Corey Brewer, and Sebastian Telfair, and there will be fun.
21. Phoenix Suns
Best team in the NBA. There it is, I said it. Steve Nash, Shawn "The Matrix" Marion, "That's" Amare Stoudemire, Raja "The Kobe Bitchslapper" Bell, Leandro "The Commodore" Barbosa, Grant Hill's last hurrah, and the impending posterization that is Alando Tucker. Learn it, live it, love it.
22. Golden State Warriors
Watch last year's first round demolishing of the heralded Mavericks to see why you will love every player on this team. Baron Davis rains from halfcourt to tie the game going into halftime. Al Harrington running the floor, getting boards, dropping 3balls. Captain Stephen Jackson. Say it one more time. Captain Stephen Jackson. It just makes you feel good inside.
23. Los Angeles Lakers
Andrew Bynum's getting better, and is already someone to plan around. Having said that, there is one story on the Lakers. Kobe Muhfuckin Bryant. Love him or hate him, there is simply nobody in the world better than he is at putting the rock in the hole. Every night, you will discover a new way to score by watching him. On a side note, his play on the USA team proved that he can be a team player with a higher goal.
24. Los Angeles Clippers
For me, a greater tragedy that Grandpa Oden's injury is Elton Brand's. With him, this could have been a playoff team. Still, three good reasons to watch this team. Cool-as-a-cat Cuttino Mobley, Corey Maggette, and rookie Al Thornton will all be fun to watch. Let us also not forget Tim Thomas.
25. Sacramento Kings
Ron Artest. Those two words say it all. He's great. Also, Kevin Martin is a sleeper candidate for the All-Star team.
26. Dallas Mavericks
You already know their story. You already know the main characters. You already know virtually everything there is to know about the Mavs. What you don't know is that this team always gets everyone's best, which means you will always see a good game when this team gets on the floor.
27. San Antonio Spurs
Champs. They still haven't gotten it done during an even-numbered year, but this year could be the one they turn the corner. They're bringing everyone back, which includes the big three and all of the players that made them great last year. Furthermore, Popovich has been spending time in Europe, learning things from fluid, pass-heavy offenses like Greece's Olympiacos, which could translate into rethinking how to defend the Spurs. Considering how nobody could figure out how to do that last year, and the fact that you also have to figure out how to score on the Spurs could very well cause trouble for everybody.
28. Houston Rockets
Yao Ming is still getting better, which is crazy. Tracy McGrady, when healthy and shooting well, is quite literally impossible to stop. Throw Steve Francis back into the mix, and the Toyota Center could be a hot spot deep into June.
29. New Orleans Hornets
They might be under the radar, but they are one or two pieces from being really good. Chris Paul is simply amazing, and Tyson Chandler is a force to be reckoned with down low. Nobody noticed, but he led the league in offensive rebounds last year.
30. Memphis Grizzlies
Ah, the Grizz. Hapless, maybe, but this year could be drastically different than last year. Pau Gasol is healthy, and balled out of control in the summer's European championships. Kyle Lowry is back, and nobody noticed last year, but man is he fun to watch. Finally, Mike Conley, Jr. is a dark horse for Rookie of the Year.
There you have it. Every team has something worth watching. You have every reason to watch. The NBA is coming, and whether or not you are ready for it, it will be great.
Tuesday, October 20, 8 p.m. Eastern, Blazers at Spurs, TNT. Welcome home.