Things gleaned from the NBA's opening holiday weekend:
At the risk of sounding naïve, you can't stay mad at these guys (as a whole, more on David Stern later). It started with TNT's goosebump-inducing Christmas Day broadcast intro
, the finest NBA-related piece of manufactured TV since Nike's MJ Jumpman commercial of 2006.
So, I'm a sucker for slick packaging, even with the random pairing of Jason Terry and Rolando Blackman or the reaching one of Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings with Kareem and Oscar Robertson.
While I tried to stay nice and cynical throughout the lockout, the finishes of the Celtics-Knicks and Bulls-Lakers games on Christmas Day also reminded me why I'm a fan of this imperfect professional sport. It's also impressive I was able to enjoy anything given such severe bloating from eating rich food that I writhed on the sofa in pain, fearing I had developed gout. The partially-silly age questions debated throughout the lockout came to the forefront as well. Would Kevin Garnett have hit that shot to beat New York if he wasn't 35 years old? If Kobe was three years younger, would he have elevated just that much more to avoid being blocked by Luol Deng?
As for Stern, the failure of the league to discipline Garnett for his choke-grab on Bill Walker seconds after missing that shot seemed to incense even some Celtics fans. And yes, you can blame Stern because the buck stops with him. It's no secret that Garnett is a very emotional guy. He once called time on a TV interview to sob when John Thompson asked "what's driving you?" But a throat grab? He should have got a game.
The Raptors looked good on Boxing Day in Cleveland. Of course, Toronto fans are considering the competition. It should be a slightly different story Wednesday night for their home opener against Indiana. But either way, enjoy this first-place screengrab now:
Brampton, Ont.'s Tristan Thompson had a nice NBA debut for the Cavs as well, scoring 14 points with a couple of great finishes and racking up a plus-3 on Cleveland's second unit. But similarly, there will be growing pains for Thompson when he's on the floor against names like Garnett and Al Horford.
-If there's another side-effect of the compressed, 66-game sked, it will be the media coverage erring on the side of alarmism. See the 0-2 Lakers and Dallas Mavericks going into Tuesday night. The reaction is not unlike a football team starting the season 0-2. How long until the Lakers give up the farm for Dwight Howard? Has the bottom really fallen out of an older Mavs team?
Oh, and about Howard. Suppose the Lakers and Magic do come to an agreement on a deal. What would make that trade acceptable as opposed to what wasn't with the Chris Paul trade? It's abundantly clear the Lakers are not a top-three elite team anymore. But can they not attempt to improve?
Fearing Stern is about the only negative going right now. But let's be positive.
The NBA is back!
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