My Predictions.

I predict that, beginning this evening, once I drop my backpack on my desk chair, and heave a heavy sigh to an empty, chilly apartment, my life will be based around a ratty second hand couch that I got for free from a friend. My butt will slide easily into the grooves embedded deep within the behemoth’s plush, springy cushions, happy to be reunited with a partner that cradles and comforts with gentle, caring ease. From there, I will fall into autopilot, cranking up three different games on three different screens arrayed about my living room. I predict that, for an average of two hours a night — minimum — my head will slowly swivel between these three glowing planes of light, watching exceptionally gifted human beings hard-charge, like boulders rolling eternally down a hill. The sounds of squeaking sneakers will become a ubiquitous presence in my modest suburban shit-hole, and the discordant creaks of cries of League Pass music will provide my nightly aria. I predict that I will spend an average of 10 hours a week watching basketball; an average of 40 hours a month watching basketball; an average of 320 hours over eight months watching basketball. I predict my life will be distinctly average.

This season, I predict that I will be cut by both sides of the sword of inactivity. Some fall days will be perfect; tucked into a vaguely-ripe blanket as a low light creeps through the window, faceless announcers braying on about who is hitting their shots, and who needs to get their heads in the game. Some winter days — a term used loosely in California — will be magical in their own right; bright, cool Christmas days stuffed to the brim with sleeved jerseys in pastel colors an roll-your-eyes moments with the Turner crew. But I predict the dark side will be there too. I predict a waning in exercise; self-conscious poking at expanding bellies, chests heaving desperately as cardiovascular capabilities wane over time. I predict fantastic game time feasts — luscious lasagna, piping-hot pizza, endless iterations of cheesy, gooey, salty and sweet — will pass through my abode. I predict loud, inebriated nights, the sounds of clinking bottles intermingling with those squeaking sneakers as an herby haze settles about the room. Yet, when the revelry has ceased, I predict a wake of destruction: empty fast food bags, ash-covered tables, annual weight gain and artificially dark rooms; a disheartening headache on an otherwise brilliant Spring day. I predict I will feel both warm comfort, and sublime shame as I sit on the ratty second hand couch. As for which emotion I feel, I suppose it will depend on how my day went.

I predict that, despite my best efforts, the NBA will continue to stand as a non-functional replacement for real human interaction. When friends text about getting together after a hard day of work, I will find a way to watch basketball instead. When the opportunity to meet new people in my hometown arises, I will gravitate towards basketball instead. When people ask me if I’ve made any new friends lately, I will think about the faceless avatars chirping away on social media, equally frightened to stray too far away from the NBA, and talk about them instead. When the overtures for social interaction just end altogether, and my phone remains silent, I will swallow my hurt feelings, and just focus on the games instead. I will stare hard at the little players, my little men; squeaking in their sneakers, slapping hands and patting butts, all for me, on my three screens. This is what I have done forever. This is what I have done always. And though I predict I will continue to think about the opportunities I missed — boisterous happy hours, far-too infrequent family moments, late-afternoon hikes, competitive pick up games, or even just the opportunity to totally unplug from our fucked-up world — I also predict that the NBA season will smile warmly, smooth my hair, and tell me to just sit down, to watch my little men play basketball, and to try not to think about it.

I predict that, against all odds, my relationship will survive yet another NBA season. And what a prediction to make. After all, I’m the one who becomes incommunicado as soon as games start, once-wordy texts slimmed down to one-word dispatches like “yeah” and “okay”. I’m the one who becomes dark when the Warriors have lost three of five, or moody after Steph Curry turns an ankle. I’m the one who gets mad at the bar, who snaps and snarls in petulant anger when things don’t go his team’s way. She’s the one who will put me in my place; who will tell me that it’s just a game, and to lighten the fuck up. She’s the one who tells me “good job!” when the Warriors win, as if it was I who was moving brilliantly off of screens and splashing wide-open corner threes. She’s the one who named Jarrett Jack “LL Cool JJ”, has been to the last five Warriors games I’ve been to (including a playoff game) and has made an NBA “Boning Roster” with a depth-chart deeper than the Cavaliers. In a reversal of an age-old adage, it’s not me, it’s her. I predict I will feel very lucky. I predict there will be a moment after a big three from Steph that I will look into her face, and my feelings will get all mixed up.

I predict we will have the same arguments this year as we had the year before, and the year before, and the year before. I predict we will call Dwight Howard a child based on small personality snapshots, laughing like juveniles as we make up fart jokes about him, then remounting our high horses as gravely we call him immature. I predict we will wonder if Derrick Rose is really “back”, despite the fact that he will be in a uniform, playing basketball with our peers. I predict that there will be no pleasing us in the end, with each NBA event and activity couched in language of lacking; armchair analysts attempting to fix everything through heavy, haughty words, and motivated by the beguiling buzz of a social media notification. No voter will be right. No opinion will go unchallenged. I predict I will roll my eyes deeply, yet jump into the tired fray of antagonism, time and time again.

I cannot predict who will win tonight. I cannot predict who will win tomorrow. I cannot predict who will soar to new heights, finally unshackled, free from the chains of mediocrity, and no longer held to standards that others made for him. I cannot predict who will falter and fail; who will watch their averages drop precipitously, who will fail to see playing time by the time 2015 rolls around. I cannot predict who will prosper in good health, and who will crumple to the floor, clutching acutely damaged appendages, screaming at the top of their lungs. I cannot know what I have not seen yet. I cannot fathom what simply has not occurred yet. All of these are conjectures, stabs in the dark; deeply flawed exercises in understanding and projecting.

I cannot predict what I don’t know about them. All I can predict is what I know about myself. And I can predict that all I wrote about will come true.

(And I can predict the Warriors will win the West.)

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The NBA starts this week. What is going to happen? Only two ways to find out! A. Read play by play game summaries. B. Watch games. You will probably do B.


Try to do everything you said you were going to do tonight. I, for one, will be plowing right through “The Mill on the Floss” and growing some delicious heirloom tomatoes.


You had a date? CANCEL IT. Boss said you need to stay late? LEAVE EARLY AND LIE ABOUT IT TOMORROW. Were thinking about curling up with a good book? COVER THAT BOOK IN PIG’S BLOOD AND FEED IT TO THE DOG. THE NBA, NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION, IS BACK BACK BACK with this showdown between two titans of MOTION BASKETBALL! Ball Movement! (POW!) Three point shooting! (SWISH!) Fundamental box outs! (BOX!)  And hey, if you’re feeling JUST A LITTLE freaky, you can zero in on Monta Ellis and try to project what he is going to be up to all year.



Cassie: If you ask me, the most interesting thing in the NBA right now is the race to claim the third, fourth and fifth seeds in the East. Who do you think is going to be destined for mid-conference glory come playoff time?

You: Uhh, I uhh… do you think Kobe will demand a trade? Oh, I am sorry, Cassie. I don’t know anything about the Hawks or the Raptors, because I didn’t watch their games early in the season, and I never felt like I needed to catch up. Now all I can talk about is Lakers gossip, that most vile of NBA topics. I should have done what Corbin said in his weekly column at, and watched the Hawks and the Raptors back on October 29th.

Cassie: You’re right, you should have. I am going to go across the party now, and talk to someone else, someone with a balanced and comprehensive set of opinions about the NBA. You disgust me.



The Cavs Offensive Ultracannon makes its regular season debut in this game against the New York Knicks, the perfect canvas for a young, upstart collective to try and paint their first masterpiece. Anything below 120 will be an outright disappointment. We ought to take to the street in protest if this is the case.


If you’re looking for a spoooooooky NBA game to take in on Friday’s celebration of the almighty power of evil ghosts, look no further than this Buck/76ers matchup. A group of attractive and ambitious young people will take up arms against an abomination of science and capitalism, designed to straddle the blasphemous line betwixt life and death as to supply it’s creator with more fresh, young bodies to absorb into his abomination.



Look at you, you pig. One week of NBA action and you’re passed out on the floor, bloated with points. You need to get to Grizzlies at Hornets, a classic slugfest between two defensive squads seeking enlightenment through the power of post ups and hard shows. Stare into the abyss and try your damnedest to appreciate how good a man can be at covering a pick and roll.



The blood feud between Demarcus Cousins and the entire Los Angeles Clippers organization picks up on Sunday, at a time that is ideal for lounging and breakfast foods and other bourgeois activity. The ideal way to watch this game is to make a cook a crepe the size of a blanket on a gigantic hot stone you covered in butter and eat it all before the game ends. Then you slip into a crepe coma and replay the game in your dreams. Wake up and compose a poem about your new vision of the game. Submit it to a literary journal. When it is rejected, burn it in your fireplace while your drink a bottle of hard alcohol. No one understands your genius.

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The Hands of Melancholy

“The greatest madness a man can be guilty of in this life, is to let himself die outright, without being slain by any person whatever, or destroyed by any other weapon than the hands of melancholy.” 
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote


Full discretion: while I’m not a Lakers fan, like all NBA fans, my relationship with the Lakers is semi-complicated. I hate them as a rival, but am somewhat envious of their success; secretly wishing my team could be so consistently competitive.   I’m old enough to admit this.  Sustained success was never the reason I supported a team, but it was always something to aspire to.  As a fan, all you really want is your team to be in contention, and the Lakers have delivered that to their fans more than any franchise over the last 30 years.

Whether you love or hate them, it’s always better when the Lakers are competitive. Like the New York Yankees, Dallas Cowboys or Real Madrid, we need that ‘evil empire’  not only to root against, but to draw interest to the sport in general.  Like it or not, the Lakers have the largest fan base globally.  It’s in the best interest of basketball if that fan base is engaged.  Even if you acknowledge many of those fans as fair-weather, they bring interest to basketball and thus indirect interest to your team.  The same way Superman needs Lex Luthor, Batman needs the Joker, we fans of the other 29 teams need the Lakers.  And we need them to be competitive.

The Lakers are currently dealing with an identity crisis.  Their iconic star is near his end, with no replacement in sight. Past history implies that even if the Lakers are struggling in Kobe’s final act, they’ll eventually re-tool.  Eras always end, and legends always eventually decline.  Transition periods happen.  The Lakers have seen down periods before, but always maintained a certain prestige, and that prestige guaranteed that sooner or later, they’d acquire the necessary talent to compete for titles again.

It feels different this time though.  Now that mystique seems to be slipping.  Starting with the passing of Dr. Buss, the catalyst for the entire Laker image, and then the departure of prized free agent, Dwight Howard, the Lakers have appeared vulnerable as the preeminent franchise of the NBA.  And that vulnerability seems to have led the Lakers to desperation; a willingness to do anything they can to recapture the magic of the past.

The Los Angeles Lakers don’t do well with failure.  A franchise, which has only had 3 losing seasons in 38 years, is predictably unclear how to proceed.  And while taking fliers on young players with potential or making a nostalgic coaching hire is one thing, waging an all-out war on specific shot locations is entirely different and somewhat puzzling. But that is precisely what the Lakers have done: they went and hired a coach synonymous with a glory period in an attempt to restore order.  But that wasn’t all.  The Lakers continue with what can only be described as a misplaced romantic pursuit of past glory through stylistic battles.

“If the Lakers never shoot another 3, I’ll be happy,” said Magic Johnson on August 3rd. Magic isn’t a Lakers employee or front office executive.  But Magic’s words do carry weight with many Laker fans.  He is perhaps their greatest player of all time, the catalyst of what is considered the most aesthetically pleasing Lakers’ team of all time.  Magic embodies the Lakers image that has been sold to fans for 3+ decades, not just a commitment to winning, but also a commitment to doing it with a certain style and showmanship.  Something Dr. Buss firmly believed in, and something his son, is desperately trying to recreate.  So when Magic, speaks employed or not, it does resonate among the Laker fans and organization.

Magic’s campaign against 3 pointers, is of course a direct shot at Mike D’Antoni and what he perceives as non-Laker basketball.  D’Antoni is the poster boy of modern basketball, with his emphasis on pick and rolls, 3 pointers, and small-ball attack.  All these things spit in the face of characteristics of classic Laker teams who were large, played inside out, and didn’t rely heavily on outside shooting.  Instead of acknowledging the Lakers heavily depleted roster, so depleted Swaggy P was their best player, the focus switched to blaming D’Antoni for ruining a tried and trued formula for success.  And with every loss, words from respected Laker greats like Magic resonated louder.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that when the Lakers struggled, the blame was shifted to the outsider: ousted head coach Mike D’Antoni.  D’Antoni isn’t from the Pat Riley or Phil Jackson school of winning.  He was never a Laker.  His seemingly prickly personality didn’t help either. He’s a stark contrast from the magnetism and charm Riley and Jackson displayed.  Maybe it’s the large southern California media market or the brand the Lakers have built, but their coach needs a certain image to resonate with the fans.  Phil Jackson and Pat Riley had an unwavering confidence, which manifested in every press conference.  They had a way of instilling self-assuredness, no matter what kind of locker room turmoil or on-court mess was going on.  They had that ability to smile at reporters, act calm in the face of adversity like it was just another day in the office. D’Antoni on the other hand, has never been one to care for the media.  He would often appear irritated with their questions or curt in response.  The only time he focused seemed to focus on defense was in postgame pressers, when the effectiveness of his coaching principles were often called into question.  He was the easiest person to blame for a poor season.

Enter Magic’s former teammate, friend and Laker old timer, Byron Scott.  Scott first spoke of returning to Lakers to their heyday.  But as camp rolled around, he gives us this gem,  “If we shoot between 10 and 15, I think that’s a good mixture of getting to that basket and shooting threes.”  Through 3 preseason games the Lakers have attempted only 8 threes.  That pace would have them attempt significantly fewer 3s than any team in the NBA over the last 10+ years.

In response to a disappointing season, the Lakers have instead decided to pursue past glories, by trying to play a brand of basketball that is semi-antiquated, and certainly doesn’t maximize it’s talent against modern defensive schemes.  And this begs the question: what exactly are the Lakers trying to do?  Their blind romanticization of the past is reaching Don Quixote levels.  Waving an imaginary sword at windmills, to restore order to the way things were.  Waging a war on the modern game, instead of trying to fit into it.  Of course, that’s not to say D’antoni’s approach was correct.  It had its flaws.  But the biggest flaw D’antoni’s Lakers had was a simple lack of talent.  And no hiring of ex-Laker legends or a pursuit of 1980s basketball is going to change that.

As the Lakers enter this season, to some it’s a tragedy, a once proud franchise, setting itself up for failure pursuing a plan doomed for failure.  To others it’s a comedy, for the exact same reasons, a misguided attempt to re-store an era of greatness.  As the Lakers go down their quixotic path, perhaps it’s best to remind them of the words of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra: “It is one thing to write as poet and another to write as a historian: the poet can recount or sing about things not as they were, but as they should have been, and the historian must write about them not as they should have been, but as they were, without adding or subtracting anything from the truth.”

But until they realize this, please just continue tilting at windmills.  For the rest of NBA fans, whose teams haven’t been as fortunate as the Lakers the last 30 years, this opportunity to lean back and laugh heartily is welcomed.

Sam Esfandiari has written for Warriorsworld and LetsGoWarriors. This is his first submission to The Diss. 

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Hey baby, let’s talk about money

Pro sports have always been tied up in financials, but lately it seems like we’re all being knocked unconscious by the Million Dollar Dream, exhausted from money-talk, and eventually passed out in our living rooms while the pro sports monolith crams a wadded up hundred-dollar bill in our collective mouths, Ted DiBiase style. Just one more bit of proof that money moves all and we are but crispy leaves defenseless against its all mighty gusts.

But what the shit am I talking about? Stories about the NBA have become as much about the inner and outer financial dealings of the league as the on-court stories. Yeah, we still prefer to argue about where Kobe Bryant ranks in the league, but we’d just as quickly talk about how much money Kobe’s making at age 36, how that impacts the Lakers, and what Kobe’s true value is to the franchise. The on-court game is inextricably linked with the business side of the game like those fields of humans stretched out as far as the eye can see in The Matrix, the electricity of their brains and hearts propping up an entire robotic existence desperate for survival. We can’t have one without the other, but a sampling of recent NBA stories is fueled by dollar signs to the point that one almost wonders if we’re here for the basketball or the fiscal soap opera in which all is enveloped.

Earlier this week, the league’s intellectual do-gooder commissioner Adam Silver told the world that the league is still exploring potential European expansion. Of course, this is all dependent on whether or not it makes financial sense for the league. As Silver told Bloomberg News: “The NBA would have to weigh the benefits of increasing the size of the 30-team league against possible costs, such as spreading television revenue among more partners.”

Wrapped up in the same piece was a reference to what seems like the inevitability of a person from China owning a team: “I got plenty of calls over the years from wealthy Chinese people who said ’I’d be interested under certain circumstances.’” Further, just days ago, the league snuggled up a little closer to China when it announced a partnership with China’s Ministry of Education to deliver a stated goal to “provide enhanced basketball training to at least three million students by 2017.” Of course, this a win-win for everyone. The league can indoctrinate young Chinese with the best in basketball tutelage while at the same time planting its basketball-consumerist notions in what appears to be bountiful economic soil. Sure as shit, Yao Ming kicked the door off the hinges of NBA globalization and now the league can’t get enough.

This all follows the league’s recent $24-billion, nine-year TV deal with Turner Sports and ESPN which has created a cavalcade of handwringing and Nostradamus-ing about what happens next which is reflective of the sports/NBA finance analysis industry that’s sprung up in recent years, particularly flourishing in basketball since the 2011 lockout. (For further reading, see Larry Coon, the existence of “capology,” Darren Rovell, Forbes’ creation of SportsMoney, etc.) As part of that gigantic TV deal, the NBA will soon cross the threshold into the previously sanctified world of ads-on-jerseys at which time all of our eyes and faces will likely melt and drip down our skulls like that guy in Raiders of the Lost Ark because we can’t fathom perverting the sanctity of the jersey.

Then there’s 44-minute vs. 48-minute game, the 66-game vs. 82-game season discussions which has gotten all sorts of NBA characters lathered up and offering practical and prideful responses. All-time great and sneaker mogul Michael Jordan predictably challenged the players on the 82-game question saying he would play 82 games regardless – because he’s Michael Jordan of course – but more importantly cut through the nonsense and pointed out what everyone from Beijing to Brooklyn already knows:

But if that’s what they want to do, we as owners and players can evaluate it and talk about it. But we’d make less money as partners. Are they ready to give up money to play fewer games? That’s the question, because you can’t make the same amount of money playing fewer games.

All of the above has happened within the past few weeks. These are radical changes occurring in succession that will likely alter the on-court product that drew so many of us to the game in the first place, so what’s up? Why is this all happening now? The reasons are myriad and far from absolute, but there are a handful of moments that stand out as impossible-to-miss signposts on the NBA’s road paved in gold.

If the 2011 lockout revealed anything to observers, it was that the NBA Players Association was an un-unified clusterfuck. Its then-executive director, Billy Hunter was booted out of the organization soon after and had his activities as director closely reviewed for possible abuses. Hunter even went as far as suing the NBPA and its president, Derek Fisher. Not exactly the most harmonious bunch. The outcome of that 2011 CBA was like seeing early Mike Tyson destroy his overmatched, overpowered, and ineffective opponents. If you’re considering buying an NBA team, the prospect of eventually sitting across the bargaining table from a historically weak union beats the hell out of getting in the ring with an opponent that’s in lockstep agreement on their demands. New NBPA director Michele Williams could change things, but she has plenty of challenges ahead.

A few years ago when the Sacramento Kings were on the selling block, former Seattleite and prospective owner Chris Hansen was willing to throw a-then unheard of $600+ million at the Maloof brothers to buy the franchise and move it up I-5 to Seattle where a privately-funded arena was being conceptualized. Sacramento stepped up to the plate with an ownership group offering significantly less money, but presenting a public-private partnership to finance the arena. When me and you pay for arenas, that’s more money for the NBA and its owners which makes buying a franchise that much more appealing to the handful of billionaires around the world weighing the pros and cons of whether or not to invest in the NBA.

As Sacramento agreed to front some of the dough for a new arena and NBA owners patted themselves on the back for whomping the Players Union in the CBA, long-time Milwaukee Bucks owner and Senator Herb Kohl decided to sell a team that’s had about as much success these past five years as the Seattle Supersonics. When he finally found a couple of New York-based buyers, his Bucks, with the worst record in the league, went for an apparent $550-million – an unheard of amount for a team based in one of the league’s weakest markets with lukewarm future prospects. That Milwaukee went for half-a-billion dollars was revelatory for anyone with a financial stake in the league. That there was already a loosy-goosy public-private partnership on financing a new arena and an option for the league to purchase the team for $575-million if no progress on a new arena has been made by 2017 makes for a low-risk investment. All of a sudden it became clear that the NBA was one hell of a unique and likely profitable place to dump your hundreds of millions.

But the high water mark (to date) happened when billionaire and known honey guzzler Steve Ballmer bought the Clippers for $2-billion this past summer during the Donald Sterling scandal. Earlier in 2014 the franchise had been valued at $575-million by Forbes, but after that sale and over-valuation, Dallas Mavs owner Mark Cuban chimed in that he thought his team’s $765-million valuation by Forbes was too low, that, “I think we’re worth well over a billion.”

Christ this stuff is muddy, but if the Clippers were sold for more than three times their assumed value and the Bucks went for over 30% of their Forbes valuation, then we’re learning a couple things:

  1. Prospective NBA owners and Forbes are in disagreement about the real value of NBA teams.
  2. In the small world of prospective NBA team buyers, there’s a lot of upside to owning a team.

I don’t think this is the piece I set out to write, but rather given the inexhaustible information floating around these interwebs, I tumbled into the rabbit hole of NBA business with dollar signs and arena deals spinning like mini-tornadoes inside my mathematically-challenged mind. What is this business both shaping and being shaped by ten men on a basketball court? How is it that everything that ever brought us to the game is, at the game’s highest level, boiled down to the hardest of the hard core, the mighty dollar? My sentimentality about this entire notion feels like a grave, naïve weakness, but that’s not fair to myself nor do I think it’s true, it’s just something I feel. It’s more complex than that, that players and men and women stumble into this game with genuine intentions and the higher they rise, the more they’re sucked into the conveyor belt of the business of sports. It’s an assembly line that starts out targeting athletes at a young age when they’re still supposedly amateurs. It grabs these kids and their families, they’re used and hustled by runners and college coaches while learning to do the same using and hustling – of course, it’s against the rules for the kids to use the system the way it uses them. And fans are there at the star factory, evolving along with the machine, confusedly feeling their genuine fandoms pulverized by a manipulative force designed to exploit their allegiances for all that sweet money. No matter which view you choose to take, the business is still churning away in an insatiable appetite of greed revealed to us all in the stories and analyses and legalese of contractual language and labor constructs that exist in an alien stratosphere.

This isn’t sour grapes, or lamenting the loss of something, it’s an evolving inevitability. Or as Joe Garcia wrote (H/T to Men in Blazers podcast) after Gibraltar lost 0-7 to the Republic of Ireland, “Let us not feel dejected, let us be realistic.”

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It’s still preseason. I have been toying around with that word, preseason. For instance, I was ordering a whole pizza at my local ‘ria the other day, and I told the young woman where was taking my  money, “Yeah, I can’t wait to get this guy home so I can watch that preson (pre-son) basketball game!” She thought it was pretty cool,  think.


Rose vs. Lebron is what America craves. These teams are going to be fighting it out in the East. Kevin Love, where IS the love? Joakim Noah is the real loving player in the Central Division. Coach Thibs is just out there trying to win, he does what it takes to win, why don’t you want teams to be winning teams? Jimmy Butler is the Lebron stopper, he held King Jamie to 15/8/5 tonight and the Bulls won 98-95. Derrick Rose doesn’t dance, but LeBron does, capitalism prevents me from living a life of joy so I want everyone to be as repressed as I am. The. Eastern. Conference. Finals. On. T. N. T. Or we hope, because Toronto doesn’t capture anyone’s imagination. Who takes the last shot before the Earth burns to a crisp?


Do you think it just eats away at Larry Ellison that wasn’t able to buy the Clippers? That guy is rich as hell and he LOVES boats, and the Clippers are, in a way, the most expensive non-military boat you can possibly buy. He would have attended every game in a captain’s uniform. He will watch this game on a boat, all dejected and shit, lounging on a chair recliner, tumbler of finest goat piss, the official drink of the megarich, while Steve Ballmer stands up and yells and shit in a knit polo shirt.


Can I be real for a second? I will probably watch the World Series on Wednesday. Here is a chart that tracks the likeliness of my watching something:

I would probably watch regular season basketball, a consistent basketball product, ABOUT as often as I would watch a playoff baseball game, that’s how much more I like watching basketball. But the weird hodgepodge of a preseason game vs. a masterclass in high leverage baseball tension? I am going with that sports-rush every time, even if I prefer the aesthetic experience of. But baseball if just viscerally offensive to you Memphis vs. Cleveland is the prefered finals matchup of the International Council of Recreational Dirtbags (Memphis wins in six and Kyrie gets his arm chopped off).


I wish Anthony Davis had been drafted by one of the Texas teams, because I think he would have cut a striking figure in cowboy clothes. Cowboy hat, jeans, spurs, boots. Let the image invade your mind and take happiness and joy from it.

“A mysterious, thin, long limbed stranger, with an unibrow that crossed the desert.” Classic cowboy fiction stuff, straight out of Charles Portis. Watch AD’s eyes during this match up; he will take longing sideways glances at the Dallas bench, knowing it is where his cowboy’s spirit truly belongs.


I am hesitant to recommend any Portland Trail Blazers game. When you watch and write about nearly every game a team plays you begin to resent their very existence and assume that other people would be grated by everything that happens in the same way you are. How can people who don’t have emotional obligations to the Blazers say things like “wow they really move the ball,” when LILLARD KEEPS RUNNING INTO PICKS, CHRIST. But if I try to extract myself from the situation, I can see that this is an enjoyab… OH OLD LONG TWO LAMCRUS, BACK AGAIN TO PUT A DRAG ON THE BLAZERS’ OFFENSE. THRILLING STUFF, A LOST ART, ONLY WORTH TWO POINTS, CHRIST ALMIGHTY WHEN WILL THEY JUST SHUT THE TEAM DOWN.


Go play Laser Tag at your local TagHaus instead. Break a good sweat while dominating local youths, teach them who really runs this world.


Attend church instead and see if you connect with it at all. It’s good to check every five or so years.

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Hello! My name is Corbin. I am new Jacob. I write Biscutball and some of Portland Roundball Society and now this column.


Last year the Phoenix Suns were akin to the city they live and the mythical bird that city was named for. Rising from the desert of lottery expectations and playing with a beautiful, fiery and powerful spread out style, a spread pick and roll plumage that lit up the Arizona night sky, but burned out when it’s head got eaten by a bear. Did that all hang together? On the other side was Houston, who were contenders-by-talent who got their throats cut by adventurous Trail Blazers in the temple of the first round. This preseason matchup will give us an idea of where the teams are headed this year: is the Suns’ legendary spacing intact? Do reports of Dwight’s return to form seem true? Has James Harden added any cool new flails?

TUESDAY: MEMPHIS AT OKLAHOMA CITY 8:00 PM East/5:00 PM West, An Arena in Oklahoma

The NBA’s second finest rivalry returns*! Watch Kendrick Perkins run into ZBo and glare! See Marc Gasol set a hard screen and raise his hands and give the league’s finest “I would NEVER!” See Kevin Durant sitting on the bench, a the seeds of his growing frustration planted, taking root in his face so they can blossom into a gigantic sighflower over the next ten weeks. WATCH Tony Allen! Just doing whatever! That guy’s the best!

*Clippers/Grizzlies, even if it did take a year off.

WEDNESDAY: FLAMENGO AT ORLANDO 7:00 PM East/4:00 PM West, Fox Sports Florida

This is a yearly preseason exhibition between the Orlando Magic and local high school basketball players dressed up in ornate Flamingo costumes designed and manufactured by the nearby Walt Disney World Workshop. The high school players usually get crushed and need to deal with pictures of themselves dressed as pink, clumsy bird for the rest of their lives, but it’s all in good fun. It’s like my Grandma Judith always said: “If your sons aren’t complaining about you aggressively challenging their heteronormativity, you ain’t raising them right.”


The first of many confrontations between Boston and Philly, who should both be terrible. A season of questions will be answered! “What did Noel do?” “HOW many shots did Avery Bradley take!?” “Did Rondo decide, on arbitrary whim, that he thought the game should go in as a win, and take over by himself?” “Carter-Williams: what’s that guy’s deal?” “Which of these young people has good body language, and how far out can you project that? Can you turn him into a hall of famer because of his head tilt?”

FRIDAY: MILWAUKEE AT MINNESOTA: 8:00 PM East/5:00 PM West, a Theatre in your Mind

I have been calling this matchup “Training Dogfight,” because you have a lot of young, hotshot wings all flying at each other for supremacy. NNNNEEEAAAOOOWWWWIGGINS ROOOOARLEVINE JAFLACI JAFLACI JAFLACI (That’s a Jabari Parker Helicopter) GIAAAAAAAAAHNNNNNNNNNNNNNNIS (A Giannis plane buzzing someone’s house.)



Look, playing against the Magic is one thing. But sending those poor pink suited high schoolers to get mauled by ZBo? That seems like it could be trauma inducing. Someone should put a stop to this.


San Antonio’s home opener is the Finals rematch we’ve all been waiting for. All you favorite matchups are back: Wade Vs. Ginobli. Duncan Vs. Bosh. Mario Vs. Parker. And some hot new action, too: What will Budding Superstar Kawahi Leonard do to keep Luol Deng and Danny Granger down on Earth? The low key special matchup here is Boris vs. Mcroberts: a pair of flex forwards, going at it. Who will do the most intangible things that just don’t show up in the box score!?THE NBA IS BACK!

MINNESOTA AT OKLAHOMA CITY, 7:00 PM East, 4:00 PM West, Not Available Anywhere

This game isn’t on TV, anywhere. You can’t watch it. It might not even really exist. What proof do you have? If something happens and no one filmed it, there is a pretty good chance it didn’t happen. Wilt’s 100 Pt. Game? Suspicious. Battle of Agincourt? More like the Battle of Agincouldn’t Have Happened because this is honestly the best visual confirmation? Jesus went to America healed the sick, taught them His gospel, blessed the children, and called twelve disciples to organize His Church in the Americas? Then where are the tapes, huh? We have tape of Brian Wilson getting stuck in a piano, but we don’t have any tape of Jesus Christ, one of the two or three most important people in history, going to America? Fishy fishy, man.

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A Sinister Selfie: the San Antonio Spurs and their Character Issues.

Thanks to Spurs guard Danny Green, a new word entered our lexicon this week: the holocaust selfie. Green, who was visiting the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe Information Center in Berlin, where the Spurs played a preseason game, decided to snap a selfie of himself at the monument. While the picture was questionable, the caption — “You know I had to do it one time lol #holocaust” — was really what caused a stir. To his credit, Green acted swiftly and sincerely to his transgression. The picture was deleted (and then later reposted with a far more appropriate caption) and Green, himself, issued a lengthy apology on Twitter. Combining the four tweets yields us with this message: “Yes, mistakes do happen. I want to sincerely apologize for the insensitivity of my post! I have great respect [and] understanding for this country’s history [and] wanted to continue chronicling my experience in Berlin. But showed poor judgement. [Sorry] once again.”

The point here is not to lay it all on Danny Green, who has apologized, and who is guilty of a crime of ignorance rather than a crime of maliciousness. Rather, I highlight the “holocaust selfie” to illustrate that the San Antonio Spurs haven’t been as squeaky clean over the last few years as their sterling reputation might suggest. Of course, Tony Parker found himself facing accusations of antisemitism after a dated picture of he and French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala both engaged in the quenelle emerged, a gesture that has been compared to a “Nazi salute in reverse.” At around the same time, pictures of Parker’s countryman and teammate Boris Diaw engaged in the quenelle resurfaced, adding to the (admittedly small) firestorm which wondered whether there were larger issues of antisemitism in the Spurs organization. But that’s really not the half of it. Right before the season started, Mike Budenholzer, the team’s former lead assistant, and newly-hired coach of the Atlanta Hawks, was arrested for a DUI before ever coaching a game for his new teamEven the team’s general manager has had his trouble with driving under the influence, getting arrested for a DUI in 2011. Prior to that, Gary Neal, who served as an important player in the Spurs rotation from 2011 to 2014, faced rape charges while attending LaSalle University, but was acquitted in 2005. And finally, one cannot forget the fact that Gregg Popovich, the team’s head coach whose grumpy-Gus act with the media has become his calling card, was apparently mean enough to Doris Burke to nearly make her cry. Yet, to the average NBA fan, most of these incidents are hardly incidents at all. Like other NBA teams, or professional sports teams, the Spurs struggle with character issues from their employees. At the same time, it still seems puzzling: why aren’t these transgressions more widely discussed?

Part of the reason has to do with the Spurs purposeful orientation towards their community. With apologies to the Toros and the Rampage, the Spurs are the only “Big Four” professional sports team in San Antonio, and by far the city’s most successful. In fact, of all of the NBA champions from the past 20 years, only the San Antonio Spurs (#36) hail from an area that’s not in the top 20 for media market size. As such, and like most single-team cities, they carry themselves with a “mom and pop” feel that contributes to their overall mystique. Though they maintain active sponsorships with national brands such as Kia, Coca Cola and State Farm, their primary sponsor is H-E-B, a local supermarket chain based in the San Antonio area. They also prefer to align themselves with sponsors who have a longstanding presence in the San Antonio area, including Express Lube and Southwest Business Corporation (SWBC). While this prevents the Spurs from having the visibility that a team like the Los Angeles Clippers enjoys, or even another strong one-team-town like the Oklahoma City Thunder (whose primary sponsor, Chesapeake Energy, is already problematically owned by team owner Aubrey McClendon), it also shields them from criticism that other prominent teams deals with. And, most importantly, it is difficult to criticize a team that contributes their images and likenesses to silly television spots and billboards around the area. The Spurs are sponsored by businesses that know them, and reap the benefits from a longstanding partnership with the ninth most valuable team in the NBA.

Additionally, the family-style atmosphere that surrounds the Spurs extends to formal coverage of the team and this, in turn, seems to shield the Spurs from negative headlines. The San Antonio Express-News is the only major newspaper in publication in the area, and as such, the only outlet that assigns beat writers to the Spurs. The writers themselves — Jabari Young, Dan McCarney, Mike Monroe, Jeff McDonald and columnist Buck Harvey — are among the best in the business, providing excellent analysis and commentary on one of the league’s crown jewels. Through their words, we have learned much about the Spurs’ iconic characters, from Popovich’s fatherly ways, to Tim Duncan’s love for Marvel comics. However, upon further observation, we are confronted with the fact that these writers are either unable or unwilling to dig a bit deeper, and present more nuanced character profiles about members of the beloved hometown team. The quenelle incident was only mentioned in passing by one writer, Dan McCarney, in a piece highlighting how “proud” head coach Gregg Popovich was in Tony Parker for his apology. The other writers chose (or were told by an editor) to let the story drift out of the headlines. Granted, this is understandable, considering Popovich’s exhaustively-chronicled grumpiness towards the media, the Spurs’ stinginess with national media requests, and the politics that must come with being the single major newspaper in a single sport town. While this engenders a positive relationship between the high-performing local team and the local press, it perpetuates the notion of the Spurs as infallible; of being incapable of truly making a mistake. This feeling seemingly extends to the blogosphere, where sites like 48 Minutes of Hell, Air Alamo and Pounding the Rock, offer tight but biased analysis for the favorite team of the writers, and in most cases, the only team where the writers themselves live. All of these individuals write for an audience that likely doesn’t want to hear about negative character traits or questionable actions. Instead, they write pieces that highlight the Spurs sense of selflessnesssacrifice, and longevity. It contributes to long-existing ideas of Spurs as airtight, and in many ways, beyond rebuke.

But the biggest reason that the Spurs don’t get the heat is because they are the Spurs, a statement that has become strangely self-evident. Kris Fenrich wrote about this elegantly a few months ago, as he watched the Spurs wrap up their fifth championship, listened to what people said about them, read the words people wrote about them, and took note of the spin:

All these attributes we associate with San Antonio: a group of humble pass-first players willing to take less money in pursuit of something bigger than themselves don’t necessarily align with everything they do and who they are. There’s the trite “Built vs. Bought” tweaking, the anecdote about Duncan never speaking to Parker that is frequently spun into a quaint story about earning respect, Popovich’s unnecessary treatment of journalists (which took countless awkward interviews before any mass condemnation occurred – perhaps because the same people in a position to criticize are those dependent on him for quotes and insight), stoic Duncan’s eye popping complaints aimed at officials, former Spur Bruce Bowen’s dirty play, and of course Parker’s questionable relationship with former teammate Brent Barry’s wife. If you want reasons, both on and off the court, to dislike the Spurs, there are plenty.

Indeed, Kris is correct: the Spurs contradictions make them difficult to analyze. The Spurs’ last championship cemented the legacy of the team, and thus, the primary figures who define the organization. Led by Pop, anchored by the Big Three, and supported by a lovable cast of global citizens who do not mind being cogs in a well-oiled machine, the Spurs were — and are — a team that defy much further explanation. For most, an opinion about the team has been made, and that opinion is not changing any time soon. They are both boring and not-boring at once, both old and not-old, both slow and definitely-not-slow. It is their contradictions that seemingly make them who they are; a small town team that can unseat the major markets, who can throw monkey wrenches in the best-laid plans of the league, who can prevent a LeBron vs Durant finals series from ever happening again in our lifetimes. It is they who can drive the NBA crazy despite being the strongest example of how smart team management can supersede any constrictions caused by market size, television exposure and name-brand recognition. Yet, it is important to remember that this is who they are because this is who we have made them out to be: a cult of personalities team who draw their strength from their seminal figures, and who only need to answer to those figures, and those figures alone, on a daily basis. And as long as the team keeps winning 55 or more games a year, and consistently participates in the NBA’s final four, there will be little by way of dissent from anyone who deigns to explain what makes the Spurs the Spurs, from either a local or a national perspective.

At this point, the Spurs are so heavy, they are almost totally beyond unpacking. They are a team that have made themselves by living almost completely on the margins, perched right on the border between two countries, playing by rules that only they can play by. It seems almost impossible that they can have shortcomings; that they can be linked to antisemitism, infidelity, drunken driving, sexual violence and outright bullying. But we are confronted by evidence that they do, and that they are; indeed, they are human, in a league populated with them. It is a shame that we won’t really get a picture of them that extends much beyond the Spurs system, which uses the media to skillfully gloss over negative character traits in an effort to keep the black-and-silver machine churning. As long as wins come, this will not be questioned.

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