The NBA season is fast approaching and I cannot wait. There are so many aspects of the game to look forward to and not all of them happen on the court. Here is my A-Z of the upcoming 2013-2014 season.
A: Air Balls
There is truly something special about an entire stadium full of fans chanting “Aiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirrrr BBBaaaaaaaaaallllllll!” in unison. It has to be one of the most humiliating events for an NBA superstar. Now an air ball from the three point line can happen fairly often but an air ball from the charity stripe is something to behold. My money would be on Dwight Howard to throw up a free throw line air ball at some stage this year. He truly is abominable from the line and he isn’t getting any better.
B: Birdman (Chris Andersen)
This dude is a loose cannon. You never quite know what he’s going to do next. Will he attempt to punch out an opponent? Rise up for a monster tip jam? Berate a referee? Start a fight? Create some new and zany hairstyle? Or get a Mike Tyson face tattoo? With the Birdman you never quite know but if there’s action happening on the court (or even off it) you can almost guarantee the Birdman will be there somehow.
What would the NBA be without players stepping up in the clutch. Many have made a living from it. Reggie Miller, Robert Horry, Tracy McGrady, Michael Jordan and who could forget Ray Allen. Without Ray Allen’s clutch three for the Heat in game six of the NBA Finals we’d be hailing the San Antonio Spurs as our NBA Champions.
The dunks you see in the NBA you will not see anywhere else in the world. In only the past few years we’ve seen Lebron James leap over his defensive player like he wasn’t even there to slam down an alley oop. We’ve seen Blake Griffin throw down a magnitude of dunks with unrivalled power and we’ve even seen Kobe prove he has still got it by throwing down an epic jam through the lane. Who knows what kind of unbelievable feats we’ll see this season?
A new season means a new set of NBA games. When you can’t watch the game, why not pretend you’re in the game? Each year EA and 2K battle each other for supremacy in the NBA gaming world. My preference is the 2K series. The graphics just continue to amaze. Constant updates and downloadables on the internet. Just the right amount of nostalgia when you can select your favourite baller from the past (take me on with Larry Bird on my team, I dare you) and this year Lebron has chosen the soundtrack. It has your usual hip hop and pump up songs but apparently he has also chosen Phil Collins with “In the Air Tonight”. If you can’t air drum to that song you’re dead.
F: Fear the Beard
James Harden, you have done for beards what Van Gogh did for art. Van Gogh would take a simple idea, such as sunflowers, and turn it into a mesmerising piece of art. James Harden has done the same. He has taken something simple, growing a beard, and turned it into a work of art. Thank you James Harden.
G: Golden State
In the playoffs everyone wanted to jump on the Golden State bandwagon. They were playing a visually appealing brand of ball. Steph Curry breaking ankles and shooting off one foot from 3. Bogut was at his intimidating best, ripping down boards and generally being a beast on the inside. Klay Thompson stepped up in the playoffs and was draining 3′s from everywhere. This team should only get better this year. Not only do they have a potent offensive lineup but with the acquisition of Iggy their defensive presence is only going to grow. Look for them to do big things this season.
The hairstyles the NBA throws up each season never cease to amaze me. Pretty much if you can name it, it has probably been seen on the court at one time or another. We’ve seen ponytails, afros, corn rows, long hair, short hair, no hair, mop tops, mohawks, flat tops, dreadlocks, we even love to see Lebron’s rapidly receding hairline but easily the most memorable hairstyle of last season was from a player who didn’t even step on the court. Congratulations Andrew Bynum.
Injuries are a part of the game. Key players go down and role players and seasoned veterans get the chance to step up. Last season there were some big time injuries to big time players. It’ll be interesting to see how Kobe comes back after his injury. He’s getting older and his body just isn’t what it used to be. Can he live up to his own lofty expectations? Another player out with injury last year was Derrick Rose. He sat out the season. When asked who he thought was the best player in the game, his response was “Derrick Rose”. He was serious. He believes he is. A quick check of last years stats and it looks like Brian Scalabrine outperformed Rose. Will Rose still have the quicks that he so relies upon?
J: Jeff Green
I’ve put this one here because I’ve already used B and C and need to discuss the Celtics. Green needs to step up big this year if the Celtics are going to be competitive. No Pierce and KG means others need to join Rondo as the stars of the team. The Celtics also got a new coach, Brad Stevens, the former coach of Butler. He has a great college record and is known as a coach who gets great performances out of his players. He will definitely need to get some great performances out of his squad this year. I’m interested to see how Rajon Rondo copes with it all. He’s a competitor and doesn’t like to lose. Will he buy into Stevens’ plan? Will the ‘real’ Rondo come out without Garnett there to keep him under control? Can Rondo keep his cool with a team expected to be a sub .500?
K: Kevin Garnett
KG. A man who famously turns his ex-teammates into enemies. What’s going to happen when Nets travel to Boston? Will KG shake hands or leave the Celtics hanging like Ray Allen in the breeze? With the acquisition of KG and Paul Pierce from the Celts the Nets, on paper, are genuine contenders. They also have Jason Kidd as their new head coach. It’ll be interesting to see if they can all live up to the hype.
Kobe is mad. He thinks the Lakers deserve to be higher rated than 12th in the West. When Kobe is mad it makes for some great basketball. Can Kobe and Pau rekindle their rocky relationship? What demands will Kobe make this year? What’s going to happen when the Lakers play the Rockets? All of these questions will be answered in the upcoming season.
The two time defending, back to back, NBA Champions the Miami Heat are looking to make it three in a row. Lebron is looking for another MVP trophy to use as a door stop. Being the champs means that the Heat have a target on their back. Every team in the league want to be where they are but that also means that every team put in just that little extra when they come up against the Heat. Can the Heat deal with it all again? Will the sticky taped together body of Greg Oden hold up for the season? Can KG and Ray Allen be BFF’s again now that neither of them are at Boston?
Each year a mediocre player seems to take their game to the next-level and turn into a genuine superstar. It might be because the coach gave them extra minutes or a trade to a new team. Last year Paul George stepped up and almost took the Pacers all the way. Who will it be this season?
Sorts the men from the boys. The weak from the strong. Brings fans off their seats. Otherwise “normal” people throw drinks and food in their lounge room during overtime. Arguments are won and lost with televisions world wide. If only the referees could hear everything that is being screamed at them. Overtime takes everyone to new places. You have to love it.
The Pelicans. A name that strikes fear into the heart of any opposing team because pelicans do lots of tough things like………….. eat fish? Once the San Diego Snappers come into the league, man they better watch out! I do like that they have a new name. It gives the side its own identity. Lets the city take ownership of their side. I hope they do well and with an off season behind him, how big will the monobrow be?
Not every NBA level player is blessed with blinding quicks and speed. Usually it’s a point guard who has an extra gear. A step that only they know is coming and even when it happens you still can’t see it. Even in slow motion these steps seem impossible to us mere mortals watching at home. Coming up against a point guard is a centres worst nightmare. Will they get crossed up? Is an ankle breaker on its way? What number will it be on the nightly top 10? Bad for the big men. Great for the fans.
The big question on everyone’s lips is how will the Houston Rockets fare with Dwight Howard and James Harden both on the books? At best this could be Kobe and Shaq 2.0 but at it’s worst it could be a Dwightmare all over again. Dwight finally got everything he was after. There are no more excuses. Can he finally live up to his championship winning potential and cement himself as one of the premier big men and be the dominant inside presence that James Harden and the Rockets need him to be?
Style. Such a massive part of the NBA and it’s not just on the court. Off the court we have seen some amazing clothes and accessories. Watching the players walk into the dressing room with their massive headphones, clear lensed glasses for no reason other than style and swag points and hallucinogenic patterns and suspenders to keep their pants up. This has become as entertaining as the games at times. Who knows what we will see this season?
The players love their tweets. It’s a chance to connect with the fans. Some tweet more than others. While some need to think more before they tweet. It was on the twitters that we found out that Kobe had deleted Dwight (such a high school thing to do). We also found out that Kobe does listen to what his critics say after Mark Cuban stated the Lakers should amnesty Kobe. Kobe replied by dominating the Mavs with 38 points and 12 boards. He also let Cuban know exactly how he felt with his “Amnesty THAT” reply. The capital letters let you know that Kobe really meant it. In fact, just follow Kobe on twitter and Metta World Peace he has some classics as well. While you’re at it you should add NBA Nation Australia. Those dudes are awesome.
U: Uncle Drew
Everybody’s favourite Uncle. Uncle Drew. Otherwise known as Kyrie Irving. Kyrie is doing things that haven’t been seen since Larry Johnson and his Grandmama alter ego. If you haven’t been acquainted with Uncle Drew, do yourself a favour and check it out on youtube. Kyrie dresses as an elderly man and plays in some streetball games. Needless to say the videos are amazing. There’s something strange about watching someone who looks 70 throw down a self alley oop. A new Uncle Drew vid is due out soon. Just remember, Uncle Drew gets buckets.
Ahhhh a verbal. There is nothing better than watching a coach absolutely tear strips off a player for running the wrong play, lacking on defence or taking a misguided shot. It’s the coaches chance to show everyone who’s boss. And if they get it right no player will ever question them again.
Football may be considered the world game but basketball can’t be far behind. In the 2012-2013 season there were 84 internationals running around in the NBA. No longer are international players considered second class and weak. Steve Nash put a stop to that with his two MVP trophies. Dirk Nowitski let everyone know he was the real deal with an NBA title, Finals MVP and regular season MVP trophy. Currently Aussies are coming up huge in the NBA. Andrew Bogut is one of the best defensive players in the game and if it wasn’t for a mistimed dunk and his frequent injuries who knows how big he’d be today? Patty Mills and Aron Baynes went all the way to the big show, only to fall at the last hurdle. Granted, they didn’t get much court time, but Patty makes sure he gets noticed either with his 3 goggles or his towel waving.
Most teams have an X-Factor player. Somebody who does things which defy belief. It can also be somebody who has an uncanny ability to hype up a crowd or their teammates. Blake Griffin has X-Factor. The dunks he can throw down don’t just hype up his teammates and the crowd, they hype up the entire world. Patty Mills nearly puts out his shoulder every game with his towel waving antics. The crowd love it. His teammates love it and it gives the Spurs that little lift when they need it. I’d love to see him get some more court time.
The rookies. Who will shine? And who will fade? Will the number 1 pick live up to the hype? Or will and undrafted nobody take the league by surprise? It’s always fun to watch the rookies. They still have their youthful exuberance. Sometimes this means they will force a shot but sometimes it means they will come up with one of the most amazing plays ever seen.
The hip hop culture is everywhere in the NBA. The warm up music. The court announcer. The fans wearing singlets that are 4 sizes too big. Snapbacks. Jay-Z plays a big part in this. He even moved a team to Brooklyn. He also now is a player agent. I’m not sure what he knows about managing players but he’s sure to get you noticed. If you’re reading this Jay and you’re looking for an Australian to represent who relies far too much on his streaky three-point shooting, has no stamina, finds defence overrated and did a backboard tap once in his U/16′s league, then I’m your man… Call me.