Monday, November 28, 2011

Quick Takes - The return of the NBA


The NBA is alive! Like an infected body reanimated by the virus within, the Zombie NBA is finally back and better than ever (I don't know what that means, it's just a thing I've seen people say. I'm a Sonics fan, so the NBA is definitely not better than ever.). Now that owners and players have negotiated an end to the NBA lockout, the real drama will begin, with a shortened timeline for transactions and training camps, a condensed season that will see NBA players have to play hard in every game for the first time in their professional careers, and the swinging body of David Stern drifting lifelessly from the proverbial rafters. While the players came out on top here, pulling down a deserved 51% of the revenue share and a unity that had been lost in their circle, David Stern is clearly the one man who took the hardest hit throughout this whole process.

The players have lost their respect and, really, their fear for the man who has worked so hard to craft his own personal Isengard to keep them at bay. He's pushed and pushed and pushed -- players, owners, and the fans -- for so long without any balancing force to keep him in check, but that balance came through the form of self-immolation during the lockout proceedings. Stern thought he was invincible, that he could just power through the process and come out on top like always. He wasn't prepared for the players to so angrily fight back, to so angrily spit in his face from his rampant, unchecked narcissism. And, more importantly, he wasn't concerned about what this might do to his legacy and the perception of the fans who give him a job in the first place. David Stern was always an enemy to NBA fans, but he was a sort of lovable enemy, a singular force that was fun to cheer against but who stood his own in return with sarcasm and wit. But this lockout showed something else: A bitter, entitled old man who forgot how to share.

And the fans saw it, they saw him pour gasoline over his head and set it alight on Sportscenter and in every interview he gave to whomever would listen. His attitude was disgusting and made something shitty into something completely infuriating. The fallout from this lockout will probably be minimal once the season kicks into gear and fans forget about this summer, but as long as Stern is still atop his throne, there will be a distancing from fans with the NBA. You support products you appreciate, you support local businesses who have great employees and owners, you don't support Ebenezer Scrooge pre-Christmas. That's what David Stern has become, but there are no ghosts to save him from his inevitable doom. He will not be remembered as the man who saved the NBA or broadened its appeal to a worldwide audience, he will be remembered as the man who nearly capsized it for his own personal and professional gains.

  • The Tim Tebow fable keeps growing. After another paltry statistical performance (although his 22 runs and 18 throws were the first time since the '60s that a QB ran and threw that many times in game), Tebow kept his team close and, sure enough, the Broncos freaking won 16-13 in overtime on a Matt Prater field goal after the Chargers missed a field goal of their own that would've won the game earlier. This Tim Tebow thing has gotten completely out of hand, but you know what? I'll buy into the hype if he starts dating a post-jail Lindsay Lohan, gets her off drugs and back into "Mean Girls" shape, and then puts a little Christian baby in her stomach. Then you'll have won me over, Tebow. We need our Lindsay back.
  • The best part of the NBA lockout being over isn't the fact that the NBA is back, it's that a handful of players didn't think it would come back. Multiple NBA players signed contracts with teams in China with provisions that they couldn't break their contracts if the NBA lockout ended. Now that the lockout has ended, they're trying to get released and are, of course, running into a great wall (nailed it).
  • Ndamukong Suh has worked very hard this season to tell everyone that he's not a dirty player; that he just plays hard and that he's surrounded by a bunch of sissies on the other teams who can't handle a little toughness. Well, all that went out the door on Thanksgiving day when Suh stomped on a Packers offensive lineman's chest that he'd shoved to the ground and was ejected from the game. Happy Holidays, America. Ndamukong Suh wants to eat your children for dessert.
  • Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson celebrated a touchdown in a 28-24 loss to the New York Jets on Sunday by miming a shooting (in reference to Jets receiver Plaxico Burress) and a plane crash (presumably miming Jets receiver Santonio Holmes who does a plane celebration thing ... or whatever). A few people were upset about the gunshot celebration, but in New York City, it seems that Johnson's plane crash was more offensive. Jets defensive tackle Sione Pouha said that Johnson acting like a plane -- something his teammate regularly does after scoring -- and then crashing into the endzone was "kind of a dagger" because of 9/11. Pouha also said Johnson should've taken into account that 9/11 is a "sacred moment." Firstly, the only thing people should be upset about is that receivers still think touchdown celebrations are cool/funny/badass. Secondly, 9/11 should not prevent people from miming airplanes. Even crashing airplanes. Even if they're in New York. Because we're all adults and we can still pay respect to what happened on that day without limiting our lives and our rights as American citizens. Just ... damn ... calm down, people.

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