I joined the NBA’s opening night a bit late last week, tuning in to the Celtics-Cavaliers game on TNT with a minute left, and witnessed LeBron James driving to the basket, pivoting with one foot, pivoting with the other, then pirouetting into the lane for a critical layup while taking four steps or so, which, last time I looked, is at least 2 ½ steps beyond the spirit of the law.
It was an illicit thing of beauty, unnoted by TNT hollering specialist Kevin Harlan or TNT feckless specialist Reggie Miller. Then again, I’ve seen LeBron walk from Akron to Cleveland without dribbling and without being called for a traveling violation.
Anyway, I took a sip of Yuengling, scratched my pit mix Daisy on the belly, shook my head ruefully at Toni, a.k.a. She Is The One (And Then Some) and, channeling my best inner Hyman Roth, I said to myself, “This is the business we’ve chosen.”
This is the NBA.
It is large, talented, beautiful men performing wondrous athletic feats, while we root for one or the other. And if, from time to time, LeBron or a mere mortal of the sport stretches the rules and the referees eat their whistles, so be it; it is the business we have chosen, and we love the game.
While we take in that epiphany, Couch Slouch would also like to briefly touch upon some absorbing storylines to follow as a new NBA season unfolds:
Carmelo Anthony has taken his talents to Oklahoma City. Good luck, OKC. Supposedly, the Thunder have put together the latest super team, with Anthony, Paul George and Russell Westbrook, except, by definition, no team that includes Melo can be a super team.
It’s pretty simple: While there is no “i” in team, there is a lot of “me” in Melo.
To be a super team, you first must buy into the concept of team, and Melo has not done this since his one season of matriculation as a student-athlete at Syracuse University – can’t remember what he was majoring in – in 2002-03.
In Melo’s me-first NBA world, he gets his points, he gets his parking space and he gets VIP treatment at the hippest NYC nightclubs.
Melo never makes any teammates better; thus, by definition, he is not a super teammate.
The new NBA schedule is player-friendly: More rest than ever. Playing pro basketball is tough – private jets, four-star hotels, noon wakeup calls. So, to reduce travel stress, the league has cut down on back-to-back games and eliminated four-game-in-five-night stretches for teams.
The four-in-five business was difficult on the body, plus with only one night off in there, it was difficult for players to check in on all their children, particularly if they were scattered in different time zones.
I also know, from personal experience, that any time I play poker four times in five days, I am dead to the world, sometimes even unable to get to an ATM to withdraw $40 to feed my dog and my wife.
In these polarizing political times, MSNBC has company – the MSNBA. The Association – more than any sports league – has vowed its contempt for The President.
LeBron called Donald Trump “a bum,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called him “a coward,” Wizards guard Bradley Beal called him “a clown” and Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan called him “a so-called leader.”
Of course, Stephen Curry mentioned the Warriors might not go to the White House, and POTUS famously disinvited them. Actually, unless Mike Ditka starts coaching the Bulls, I don’t know if any NBA team is visiting 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue soon.
The Warriors again are very, very, very good. But how good? Well, we’re going to find out, because in an act of inanity or insanity, the team added Nick Young to its roster. That would be like the French Laundry adding the Croissan’wich to its menu.
Young rarely passes, rarely rebounds, rarely plays defense and rarely helps his teammates. On the other hand, he still gets VIP treatment at the hippest L.A. nightclubs, and he can travel with the best of them.
Ask The Slouch
Q. How do you explain the NCAA’s hands-off treatment in regard to North Carolina’s 18 years of academic fraud? (Martin Jacobs; West Palm Beach, Fla.)
A. NCAA chief enforcement officer Barney Fife said he was “troubled” by UNC’s conduct, “but at the end of the day, the Tar Heels are winners!”
Q. A donor recently gave $219,486,000 to your alma mater, the University of Maryland. Will you commit to matching that, $1.25 per week for 175,588,800 weeks? (Christopher S. Rizek;
A. I already owe that in overdue on-campus parking tickets.
Q. I don’t watch much soccer but how is it that Iceland with 330 THOUSAND people can qualify for the World Cup while the U.S. with 330 MILLION people can’t? (James Reinig; Annapolis, Md.)
A. Better midfield play, I’d imagine.
Q. Is it true that Rick Pitino is suing the Adidas Dame 3 Men’s Basketball Shoe for entrapment? (Terry Golden; Vienna, Va.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!
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