Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Tuesday, June 25, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 72° Partly Cloudy
Sports

Couch Slouch: Time to reflect on NBA storylines as playoffs approach

UPDATED: Wed., Feb. 20, 2019, 12:02 p.m.

Houston Rockets star James Harden travels 12-15 times a game and it’s never called by the referees according to the Couch Slouch. (Jim Mone / AP)
Houston Rockets star James Harden travels 12-15 times a game and it’s never called by the referees according to the Couch Slouch. (Jim Mone / AP)

I never watch the NBA all-star game. I also don’t watch the MLB all-star game, NHL all-star game or NFL Pro Bowl, and I skip the Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, Golden Globes and any other award show.

(Note: At press time, my staff was still researching if there is an MLS all-star game.)

All-star games and award shows are pointless, mindless, senseless, needless, aimless, worthless, fruitless and bootless. In a word, I guess I would say they are useless.

The NBA all-star game is just an exhibition of 3-pointers, slam dunks and no defense, which, these days, is no different than an NBA regular-season game. But the all-star break does give us a chance to assess the most interesting storylines as we head toward the NBA playoffs:

*It’s official: You cannot travel with the ball in the NBA. Google “Bradley Beal travel” and see for yourself.

In the Wizards-Pistons game last week, here is what Beal did, as described by the Washington Post’s Jacob Bogage: “Beal came off a pair of screens with the ball and drove left toward the rim….Blake Griffin stood in his way. Beal gathered his dribble, took two steps toward the bucket and thought about shooting, but instead pulled the ball down and fumbled it for a moment. Then he took two more steps and threw a pass out to the perimeter.”

Actually, I counted five steps – maybe six – but, then again, I had failed LASIK eye surgery.

In any case, there was no travel call, and the NBA referees association the next day explained the non-call via Twitter.

(Note: At press time, an English translation of that explanation was unavailable.)

Best I can tell, if this interpretation were applied a generation ago, Michael Jackson would’ve been an NBA all-star.

* Speaking of which, James “I Have Traveled to Another Dimension” Harden is otherworldly. He has scored at least 30 points in 31 straight games, only eclipsed in NBA history by Wilt Chamberlain’s 65-game streak in 1961-62. As Reggie Miller would say, Harden can really “score the ball.”

Harden has two signature moves: his step-back 3-pointer and his Euro-step drive. On occasion – and when I say “on occasion,” I would estimate 12 to 15 times a game – he appears to travel; as a rule, it is uncalled. Anyway, if it’s up to NBA officials, dribbling might one day become obsolete.

* The 76ers now have an incredible starting five, but it is all tainted by The Process. The 76ers tanked for years, losing on purpose to accumulate high draft picks. That has resulted in a starting lineup of Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, J.J. Redick, Jimmy Butler and Ben Simmons.

Basketball-wise, these are “fruit of the poisonous tree,” an important legal concept. Such evidence is generally not admissible in court; such draft picks should not be admissible on court.

I refer to Nardone v. United States, 1939, famously refereed by Felix Frankfurter and company.

* Might Adam Silver soon replace Roger Goodell? Silver, the NBA honcho, reportedly has been approached by some NFL owners to become the NFL commissioner.

I hate to burst this trial balloon, but is it possible Silver is all sizzle and no steak? Consider this: The Alliance of American Football (AAF) just drew more viewers head-to-head in prime time than a Rockets-Thunder NBA game.

What, you’ve never heard of the AAF? Exactly.

* Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd says otherwise, but Russell Westbrook is still very, very good. Westbrook has a triple-double in a record 11 straight games en route to his third consecutive season averaging a triple-double. Meanwhile, my buddy Cowherd constantly berates Westbrook as a selfish, stat-stuffing buffoon whose teams just happen to win a lot more than they lose.

Westbrook could find a cure for cancer, and Cowherd would still say he’s only trying to pad his numbers.

* The new “sexy” in the NBA is this – sign two maximum-contract super studs and your team is off to Title Town. Uh, how did that work out for the producers of “Ishtar” with Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman? Or for the producers of “Gigli” with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez?

* The Knicks finally won a game. The results are under review by the NBA Replay Center in Secaucus, N.J.

Ask The Slouch

Q. We don’t know the details of Colin Kaepernick’s confidential settlement with the NFL, but do you figure he got a good deal? (R. Vogel; Franklin Park, Ill.)

A. If he is living in Myanmar and applying for citizenship there when the next NFL season begins, you will have your answer.

Q. Why do you keep writing when everyone who reads your column hates it? (Peter Young; San Antonio)

A. Oddly enough, you’ve reminded me of the old Yogi Berra line, “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.”

Q. Why doesn’t the U.S. government just hire the Fenway Park folks to build the wall, paint it green, cover it with ads, and actually turn a profit? (Terry Golden; Vienna, Va.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!

Subscribe to the sports newsletter

Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.

You have been successfully subscribed!
There was a problem subscribing you to the newsletter. Double check your email and try again, or email webteam@spokesman.com