I like the NBA – I’m not saying it’s FAN-tastic, I’m not saying it’s where amazing happens, I’m not saying I love this game – I just like it. I like it enough to provide a comprehensive report on the NBA at midseason:
If you’re going to have a slam dunk contest All-Star Weekend, bring in the All-Stars. Shaquille O’Neal had an interesting idea last week – he proposed a superstar dunking contest to raise money for Haiti. He wants the likes of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant under the bright lights.
Indeed, at the moment, this year’s slam dunk entrants are Nate Robinson, Gerald Wallace, Shannon Brown and either Eric Gordon or DeMar DeRozan. These are all fine gentlemen, I’m sure, with impeccable dunking credentials in their local neighborhoods. But frankly, I wouldn’t recognize DeMar DeRozan if I were DeMar DeRozan’s body double.
Anyway, Shaq is right – holding a slam dunk contest without LeBron, Kobe, Vince Carter and Dwight Howard is like holding a physicists contest without Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi and Stephen Hawking.
Kevin Durant is the best player you’ll never see (unless you never see that online poker pro from Sweden who wins, like, $3 million a day). When I have grazed upon NBA TV on occasion, I’ve stumbled on an Oklahoma City Thunder game. I don’t even know where Oklahoma City is – I assume it’s in Oklahoma; maybe Kansas – and can’t imagine anyone playing basketball in Oklahoma City.
But boy oh boy, does this Kevin Durant got game. He’s averaging 29.3 points (third in the league) and 7.3 rebounds. He is very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very smooth. I suspect he’s already among the NBA’s top 10 players – maybe even in the top five – and one day the 6-foot-9 forward could be the best in the league.
By the way, since when does the NBA have a team in Oklahoma City? I thought only the NHL did stuff like that.
The Nets are actually worse than their record would indicate. That would seem improbable, considering they are 3-40. But their abysmal record is not the residue of bad luck, it’s the residue of unbelievably bad play.
They are the NBA’s lowest-scoring team (89.9 points) and have the worst point differential per game (-13.0). They are the league’s worst shooting team (41.9 percent), worst 3-point shooting team (28.1 percent), second-worst rebounding team and have the second-worst assist-to-turnover ratio. They also have the second-worst defensive field goal percentage (48.6).
On the bright side, they’re polite losers: Only five teams in the NBA have fewer technicals.
They say a billion Chinese can’t be wrong about Stephon Marbury – well, we’re about to find out. In a major test of Chinese-U.S. relations, Marbury is going to the bigger mainland to shoot hoops. To best replicate his Knicks experience, he has signed a contract with the 3-12 Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons, currently tied for last place in the 17-team Chinese Basketball Association.
“The aim of signing Marbury is to pay back our fans,” team owner Wang Xingjiang said. What ghastly acts could the Brave Dragons fans have committed to be paid back this way?
Anyhow, Marbury caused a major delay on his flight to Beijing last week when he attempted to check 700,000 pairs of Starbury shoes through airport security.
The worst place in America right now is the NBA’s Southwest Division. Everybody in the division is playing over .500, but three of its five teams might miss the Western Conference playoffs. Two talented teams, the Grizzlies and the Hornets, are battling for last place in the Southwest, and if you’re sitting in Memphis or New Orleans – and you own a map – you might be wondering, “How did we end up in the Western Conference?” I mean, those folks can look out the window and just about see the Atlantic Ocean, can’t they?
Meanwhile, in the Eastern Conference, the Bucks or the Knicks or some other ne’re-do-well, half-baked, mishmash team might make the postseason with, like, a 35-47 record.
Heck, I think the Nets can still get home-court advantage in the East.
Allen Iverson has been voted as a starter in the NBA All-Star Game. I could’ve sworn he went to China.
Ask The Slouch
Q. Will Pete Carroll bring professional football back to Seattle? (Don Orlich; Pullman)
A. I don’t see why not – he brought professional football back to Los Angeles.
Q. Do you have an instant replay booth in your home? (Ben Semiatin; Wheaton, Md.)
A. We just went under the hood to challenge my stepdaughter Mia’s assertion that she had brushed all her teeth.
Q. Is it possible that the ancient Mayan prophets predicted Brett Favre’s retirement date and not the end of civilization in 2012? (Wayne Janaszek; Milwaukee)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
Q. Any chance Mark McGwire’s pants are now actually on fire? (Jim O’Brien; Racine, Wis.)
Norman Chad is a syndicated columnist. You can enter his $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash