Last year I did a traditional pre-season breakdown of the league, and going into the playoffs I was supremely confident that my prediction of a Suns-Pistons final would come to fruition. Alas, Tim Duncan’s genius, terrible officiating, and the Pistons’ decision to continue to coast on the glory of the 2004 Finals got in the way.
So I’m not going to waste my time this year with half-baked analysis of who’s the team to beat—we’ve got 82 games left for that. Instead, I’m going to just list the twenty things I’m most excited about for the NBA this year (in no particular order):
1. TNT broadcasts. Standing idly by while the Joe Bucks of the world suck the joy and life out of sports has left me a shell of a fan. But just hearing Sir Charles on the Bill Simmons podcast or on Conan last night began to rejuvenate my weary soul. The TNT guys honestly, earnestly, passionately love the league they’re covering. Which is nice.
2. The arrival of my Jason Maxiell and Amir Johnson jerseys. I couldn’t decide which one to buy, and I can’t decide who I’m more excited to watch play this season. If they’re not both in the rotation for the Pistons, I’m going to use this blog solely to further the theory that Flip Saunders intentionally blew the Cavs series to support his hometown of Cleveland. I may do that regardless.
3. Having an interesting team in Boston. I’ve lived in Boston for five years, during which the once mighty Celtics have either sucked or relied way too heavily on Antoine Walker bombing threes. I want the Celtics to be just good enough to lose to the Pistons in game seven of the EC finals.
4. The fact that they don’t play John Mellencamp during basketball games. Thank god (Afrika Bambaataa) for hip-hop.
5. Getting to watch Shawn Marion play basketball. It’s so much nicer than hearing about Shawn Marion not wanting to play basketball.
6. Kobe for Dirk, straight up. Get it done Cube.
7. Hearing the reaction to Lebron at his first home game. He took you to the finals! He repped the Yankees! Cleveland fans must have Larry Craig-level internal contradiction going on.
8. Going to see the Knicks at the temple of the NBA, Madison Square Garden. I don’t have tickets or anything yet, but I will make this happen.
9. The Houston Rockets, team of mystery. I wasted a fantasy basketball draft pick on Steve Francis, who I thought was ready for some renaissance ish. But now he’s not in the rotation? Rafer is better than the Franchise? Mike James is better than the Franchise? Luther Head is better than the Franchise? Who could possibly have seen this coming?
10. Kobe going to anyone but the Bulls. Please. I really don’t want the Pistons facing him on a regular basis.
11. Kevin Durant. Tayshaun’s upper body and Jordan’s potential. If you’re not excited by this, you’re Joe Buck.
12. Acie Law, Josh Smith, Al Horford, Marvin Williams, Sheldon Williams, Joe Johnson, and the Atlanta Hawks. Frightening upside here.
13. Rasheed Wallace. I’m always excited to watch Rasheed Wallace. I’m like a battered spouse who can’t get over the courtship of 2004. No matter how many times he wrongs me, I keep going back.
14. Allen Iverson. I like to think of myself as a whiter, bloggier version of Allen Iverson, with one hundredth the talent and one thousandth the drive, and similar talent for rapping and practicing.
15. Melo, DWade, and Chris Bosh. The ones that got away.
16. Jason Kidd. I promise myself this is the year I finally appreciate Jason Kidd.
17. Tony Parker’s rap career:
18. Dirk’s ringless fingers. It’s kind of like when Peyton Manning was smashing records and blowing playoff games. When all was right in the world, before Peyton revealed himself as a likable, funny, cool-headed champion. Where’d my archetype go?
19. Manu Ginobili. Not for the three or four hours per game night when he’s complaining about the refs or about the impact of trade deregulation on the Argentinian economy. But when he’s dunking in traffic, bald spot shining like a beacon of hope for mankind. Or at least for me.
20. Your 2008 World Champion Phoenix Suns. Come on, I can’t pick the Spurs. I just can’t. It’s like picking gravity to stop a little kid from flying.