The NBA: Where Nothing Ever Happens

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The NBA Lockout in a nutshell: my television is currently playing Major League Soccer.

<p> The NBA Lockout in a nutshell: my television is currently playing Major League Soccer.</p>

The NBA Lockout in a nutshell: my television is currently playing Major League Soccer.

This is what my life has become. A week ago, I was watching the Cards top the Rangers in The Greatest/Worst/Best/Sloppiest Baseball Game Ever. Tonight, the Seattle XBOX’s are going up against the Dudes in Red Shirts.

I’m a diehard baseball, football and basketball fan. That’s it, and in that precise order. Baseball and football are 1A and 1AA, respectively. Basketball is a distant but still beloved third. I don’t like hockey and I sure as shit don’t like soccer. I’m a marginal college football fan at best. By any measure, I currently reside on the sports fan equivalent of a desert island.

Some people have surmised that the NBA owners are stupid to risk losing the momentum of the league’s best season in over a decade. They argue the NBA doesn’t have the same luxury that the NFL did: people won’t miss it all that much. And for a while, I agreed.

The NBA season starts in a week? Who cares: I have baseball to watch. Besides, the NBA has always been the third wheel on a bicycle built for two.

Now, I’m eagerly awaiting the NBA’s return. Who gives a flying f*ck about BRI, the mid-level exception or Stern’s last stand? Five nights out of the week (usually six given MNF’s heinous 2011 schedule), there are no sports on TV. That makes for one hell of a WTF.

NOTE: Unless otherwise specified, quotes are paraphrases of idiocy.

“Chris Johnson.”

Okay, so that isn’t even a quote. But that’s the point. I recently asked a Titans fan friend what he thinks the issue with the halfback-formerly-known-as-CJ2K is.

In response, he muttered something about defenses ‘figuring him out’ and changed the subject.

No one knows what to think of this guy. Not even that many people want to talk about him. He’s hesitant. He’s slower. He’s being weighed-down by his grillz.

No one seems to know anything, except that none of it makes any fucking sense.

This isn’t a case of a holdout languishing over a lack of preseason reps. It’s not even a case of normal running back decline; Johnson is barely 26—young even by NFL standards—and a year removed from being the league’s most electrifying player.

With one touchdown, a 2.8 YPC average and just one 60-yard game (he picked up 101 yards on 23 carries in a week 4 matchup against the Browns) Johnson’s decline hasn’t just been precipitous—it’s been WTF-worthy. Sure, Tennessee’s offensive line isn’t great, but fantasy handcuff Javon Ringer has still been able to find success at times. As opposed to years past, the Titans actually have a viable passing attack. If anything, putting eight men in the box against CJ should be riskier than ever.

The worst part? Tennessee just paid the man, so they have no choice but to stick by their $30 million dollar headache. Johnson is in the first year of a four year deal. He’s not going anywhere anytime soon, and the Titans have to believe that the superduperstar that torched NFL defenses for three seasons will resurface at some point.

“FRANK MCCOURT IS GONE! CELEBRATE! THE DODGERS ARE BACK!”

Not an incorrect sentiment, but certainly a premature one. The much-maligned LA owner may have finally given in and put his team up for auction, but Dodger fans aren’t out of the Redwood forest just yet.

First, there’s the obvious bidding process, which could end up lasting throughout the 2012 season. When that wraps up, MLB will need to approve the new ownership (in the unlikely scenario that ownership is led by Mark Cuban, that might take awhile). Then, it will probably take some time to put the right people in place to make people forget about the old guy.
In other words, it’s going to be a while.

“Albert Pujols won’t be back in St. Louis next year.”

A week after losing their hall-of-fame manager three days after winning the World Series, one of baseball’s most storied franchises is going to let the GOAT walk over a few million dollars? Riiiiiight.
“Are you kidding me? Theo’s not going to give the managerial job to Ryne Sandberg?”

No, I’m not, and he’s not.

Yes, Ryne is a Windy City legend who is just as marginalized in Wrigleyville as he is in Cooperstown. But he also has zero major league coaching experience, something that might come in handy when trying to turn around a franchise that hasn’t won anything in, ya know, awhile.

“The Bulls are the consensus favorites for the 2011-2012 NBA Championship…if it happens.”

If it happens, the Bulls should be considered among the favorites for this year’s O’Brien Trophy.

Chicago has one of the league’s three best players, the league’s best defense and one of the league’s best coaches. They have a well-rounded bench that is as formidable on the boards as it on the perimeter. Outside of Carlos Boozer, there’s only one reason not to be jumping on the Bulls bandwagon:
Actually, not just one reason. Not even two. Not three, not four, not five…

Miami’s Game Six Finals loss was taken as a validation of all their perceived faults. And why wouldn’t it be? Everyone had been looking for a reason why the Heat would fall flat from the moment “South Beach” escaped LeBron’s lips. The critics had been vindicated.

The thing is, the critics weren’t wrong. The Heat had a terrible bench and no viable center or point guard. Meanwhile, Chris Bosh was doing his best to turn the Big Three into the Big Two-Point-Five.

Yet, despite all of their faults—real, perceived, or somewhere in between—two men came within two games of taking home an NBA title and silencing the doubters. Without any significant assistance, LeBron James and Dwayne Wade almost did what everyone expected (but certainly didn’t want) them to do in the first place.

They’ll do it eventually. They might not win seven titles, but Miami still has a bright future. LeBron is still just 26; Wade is just 29. Reinforcements will come at some point, whether through the draft, free agency or trade. Soon enough, the Big Two will have a better-than-terrible supporting cast. And the rest of the league will cower in the corner.

For the time being, this is still the same team. But that’s the same team that almost already did it.

So why can’t they do it this year? Because the NBA is where nothing happens. And that’s not just a problem for the Heat—it’s a problem for every non-hockey loving sports fan out there.

Jesse Golomb is the creator and lead writer of TheFanManifesto. Follow him on twitter at @TheFanManifesto or drop him a line at JesseGolomb@TheFanManifesto.com 

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