In light of our ongoing season preview, today we asked The Discussants about some relationships in the NBA.
Which coach and players pair are in the cutest relationship?
Alex Maki: I think the all-time cutest couple would be Latrell Sprewell and PJ Carlesimo. All that touching and feeling!
Kevin Draper: Tony Parker and Pops. This preseason he’s let Parker diagram plays for the team, and uses him to communicate with Nando de Colo. They seem like BFFs.
Jacob Greenberg: Baseless assertion: Mike Brown and Metta World Peace. I suspect Brown plays a major role in managing MWP’s mental issues, and serves as a major support. Discerning observers will note that it was Brown, who at the time was an assistant with the Pacers, talking to Artest while he laid on the scorers table, and later shielding him with his own body while beer, soda, and other debris flew at them as they fled the court. I’d be interested to see how Metta would respond to a new coach who didn’t understand him as well. My guess: poorly.
Hans Peterson: I tried to come up with a wise-ass answer to this, but c’mon, it is Duncan and Popovich. What other generally gruff and humorless coach is almost certainly going to pull his former MVP off the court early in his final game so he can get applauded and then tear up when they embrace at the midcourt line as the PA Guy starts playing “I Will Remember You.” We all know this is coming. And dammit, it’s going to be really cute.
Which player have you had the most pleasant longterm relationship with?
Alex Maki: Well, probably Nash these days. Shaq has always been my NBA sweetheart, but among active players I definitely have the biggest basketball crush on Mr. Steve Nash.
Kevin Draper: Antawn Jamison. I remember when he first really caught my eye, when he dropped back to back 51 point games in the 2000-2001 season, and I’ve always followed his career, from the Warriors reunion team team that was the Arenas/Hughes/Jamison Wizards and now to the hated Lakers. That is going to strain our relationship.
Jacob Greenberg: At this point, Tim Duncan. He’s been in the league forever, and I have a hard time imagining an NBA without him or a dominant Spurs team.
Hans Peterson: Grant Hill. His journey has been fraught with challenges and disappointments, and I’m genuinely saddened that he is never going to win a championship. However, in the end, the player that briefly kept me interested in basketball as the Jordan/Pippen duo broke up is still around as the second oldest player in the NBA. And from MVP to ancient roleplayer, he has remained just about the nicest guy in the league. I’m sad to never know what he could have been (although “more offensively aggressive Scottie Pippen” feels right – same athleticism and all-around play that lacks only a pure jumpshot), but I have always loved watching him from day one.
Which NBA team treats their fans the best?
Alex Maki: I am going to say, currently, the…Pacers. I don’t know. They have a nice, young core. There ain’t a lot going on in those parts, and yet they keep the product interesting. And I can’t imagine tickets are too ridiculously expensive. It costs a lot of money to go to Lakers and Heat games. That ain’t fan-friendly, in my opinion.
Kevin Draper: Dallas Mavericks. For all the shit that Mark Cuban gets, most of it deserved I might add, he is clearly committed to putting a winning product on the court, and he really seems to listen to his fan base. Through at least three different coaches, that team has been successful for the entirety of the 2000s.
Jacob Greenberg: The Spurs. They are well run. Everyone knows their job, from the owner, to the GM, to the coach, to the players, and they all do them well. The organization has crafted and maintain bonds with local businesses, and keep tickets affordable for all. It’s almost too perfect.
The Seattle Supersonics So far, the Oklahoma City Thunder. This sounds crazy for a franchise that left a city only a few years back, but for the time-being, the Thunder have been a godsend to a flyover country town with no other major professional sport to cheer on for miles. Their drafting has been prophetic and inspired – both in the talent and likability of their players, they pack the house every night, and they have made a mid-size city in a poor state the center of attention for a couple weeks every June.
With the Kings and their fan base seemingly in front of a divorce judge as we speak, what’s another city and fan relationship that is on the rocks?
Alex Maki: Well, they are not even close to a divorce but I have a feeling that people in Chi-town aren’t going to be too in love with the product they see on the court if Rose can’t make a reasonable return this season.
Kevin Draper: Atlanta Hawks and fans. That city has always struggled to support professional sports in general, and still pulled bad attendance when they were getting to the second round of the playoffs every year. Now that they’re in for a run of missing the playoffs, I fear for the worst.
Jacob Greenberg: If the Suns start out slow, the bottom will fall out quickly. They have shown that they want to replicate the success of SSOL, but do not want to spend the money to do it. Hence, they are paying D’Antoni’s former assistant, Nash’s former backup, and a gaggle of offensively minded forwards who are not STAT to do what those guys used to do, cheaply. Hasn’t worked yet, and I’m not hopeful for the future. It may be a depressing scene in Phoenix if the team falls out of the race for eighth early.
Hans Peterson: The Toronto Raptors. They are already in a country that is a pretty odd fit for basketball and that lost one of the two NBA teams it ever had five years after its debut. They’ve had a parade of some of the most frustrating superstars imaginable who duck out as soon as the limelight beckons (Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Chris Bosh). They just missed out on a furious effort to revitalize their franchise with Steve Nash. And most importantly, I just found a poorly written and shockingly non-ironic fan article that listed “5 Reasons Toronto Raptors Fans Can’t Wait for the Season to Begin.” Among those reasons: “more scoring off the bench,” “better talent on defense,” and “Kyle Lowry.” Seriously.