The 2017-2018 NBA Season has been excellent.
Granted, I only really started paying attention to the NBA some time after Christmas which in retrospect, may have been a good idea for the following reasons:
- I was spared from watching teams start the season sloppy and out of shape due to the early start.
- I was spared from hearing, what I can only imagine, incessant, “The Warriors are overrated and in trouble,” hot takes after they started the season with a couple of bad losses (EDITOR’S NOTE: They’re still on pace to win over 67 games)
Nonetheless, as I’ve started to dive back in, I’ve realized that I didn’t miss much, and in fact, the things that I expected to be popular narratives were and are still in fact, the popular narratives.
- Lebron is putting up an ALL-TIME Great Statistical Season in his 15th year but it’s murky at best where he will play next year.
- Kyrie is doing an incredible job proving he can be the best player on a really good team but a horrible job at proving the earth is flat.
- The Warriors are the Warriors. (It should be noted, and more people are starting to talk about this, that Kevin Durant’s defense should merit Defensive Player of the Year and 1st Team Defense consideration)
- Mike D’Antoni has the Rockets looking at the offensive side of the court like The Matrix.
- The “Unicorn” era is fully upon us (i.e. Giannis, Porzingis, Embiid, etc.)
With that, I thought it’d be more fun to talk about the things that I believe no one (or maybe just a few people) are talking about.
Let’s call it, “The NBA Narratives We Aren’t Talking About.”
Houston Rockets Postseason Mediocrity
Yes, the Houston Rockets are on a torrid pace to destroy all records associated with pace and three-point shooting. Yes, the Houston Rockets are averaging somewhere around 115 points a game and displaying a penchant for pesky defense for the first time. Yes, it appears the Houston Rockets are very difficult to beat in a regular season game.
Has any opposing team just thought to just tell them it’s a playoff game? Wouldn’t that be almost an automatic win?
I don’t want to downplay what is currently happening or come off like I am saying Harden isn’t a phenomenal basketball player, but I just think we need to calm down because unless I’m mistaken, Chris Paul and Harden, the anchors of the team are still synonymous with “playoff flame-out.”
Perhaps it’s due to the minutes load they carried going into their respective playoff series in recent years, but both players, especially Harden, have not only not contributed in big ways in the playoffs but have actually performed detrimentally.
In 2015, the Rockets capped one of the most stunning playoff comebacks against the Clippers. Down 3-1 in the series, the Rockets were trailing by 19 when all of a sudden, they began mounting a comeback and eventually won the game.
How is this an argument for Harden being detrimental?
He was on the bench the while Corey Brewer and Josh Smith were at the helm.
Then there’s this in a must-win situation in the next series.
And then this:
And then this year:
Kardashian Effect is Back
This used to be an incredibly popular narrative that appears to have tailed off so I’m bringing it back. Additionally, I want to be careful not to use the word “curse” here because I think the word is kind of mean, hence my use of “effect.”
I present to you a couple of players who have had alleged and extended contact with a Kardashian or Jenner and what their play on the court was like before, during, and in some cases, after.
Tristan Thompson: Officially linked to Khloe Kardashian
- Before Kardashian (BK) – Defensive Anchor, Rim Protector, and in Lebron’s inner circle so much so that the Cavs rewarded his sub 10 point and sub 10 rebound average in 2015, with $82 million over 5 years. Lebron’s a powerful ally.
- With Kardashian (WK) – Productivity off a cliff. Minutes reduced. On the outs with Lebron so much so that Lebron openly mocked the “Keeping Up With the Kardashian” crew on social media and Thompson is a regular fixture in trade scenarios.
Blake Griffin: Allegedly linked to Kylie Jenner (earlier this year)
- BK – 2nd best player on playoff team
- WK -Missed 14 games due to injury
- AK – Best player on bad team (that went on a win streak when he returned).
Now before you dismiss this narrative as empty and just mean, consider the next case and this article.
James Harden: Officially linked to Khloe Kardashian in 2014-2015
- BK – Finished 2nd in MVP Voting (behind Steph Curry)
- WK – Didn’t crack the Top Ten in MVP voting
- AK – Finished 2nd in MVP Voting (behind Russell Westbrook)
Again, I don’t want to come across as mean but Harden’s statements should at least make us consider the following: NBA players (and any professional athlete for that matter) are mutant-like in their focus, drive, ethic and when you inject 24/7 attention and cameras and drama rooted in a group of people just being caricatures of themselves into that equation, something is going to suffer.
Also let us never forget this:
The All-Star Game Where The Players Pick The Teams:
Y’all. How are we NOT talking about this.
For years, rumors of secret pick-up games featuring prominent NBA stars floated around. The public knew they must have existed but the details were few and far between leaving us to just survive on legends and stories like this.
However, as the dawn of the camera phone has fallen upon us, and as NBA players themselves have validated these games on-the-record, we have finally been given a glimpse into this secret society.
Still though, questions abound.
- Who organizes the game?
- Is there a group text? A bat signal? Clues left in secret locations?
- Who are the random dudes on the court playing sometimes?
- Who picks the teams? Do people’s feelings get hurt? Does someone always get made fun of / picked last?
- How heated does it get?
We need to know!!!
Well now we will…sort of, because the player with the most fan votes in each conference will get to pick their teams from all the other top players in a draft format.
Currently, Giannis leads the East voting while Durant leads the West voting.
New questions abound:
- Coin flip for first pick or leading vote-getter?
- Is there a time limit?
- First pick is Lebron…right?
- Would Lebron let either of them pick Kyrie?
- Would Durant pick Russ?
- What if Lebron ISN’T picked first?
- Better yet, can you imagine the anger generated from being passed on?
- What if someone does something dumb with his pick and picks Chandler Parsons? Can we veto?
This is going to be fun.
Yes, he missed a couple of weeks with an injury, but why is he not in the way-too-early MVP conversation or in any conversation for that matter?
Have you seen his stats?
Additionally, has he settled into his role on the team or is he still the player that on any given night can hit 10 three-pointers in a game?
Oh wait, he did that.
Additionally, this year, he went toe-to-toe with Trump, taught a Master Class, and became the first player to break the $200 million salary this year.
I just want to remind everyone Steph Curry is still in the league.
Shoes and Colorways
It used to boggle my mind when I was in high school that the richest people in the world got their shoes for free. How can Nike pay Lebron James $30 million a year AND give him free shoes?
Then I learned about the real world and how business worked. In summary, in 2015, Nike sold $350 million worth of Lebron James’ shoes. Nike, in turn paid Lebron $30 million. Nike…you be you.
This year, shoe sales are expected to reach heights, not only unparalleled in the sports industry but in any industry for that matter. Some of this is due in part to NBA stars becoming more empowered in their branding and image, but some of it is due to the fact that shoe companies have discovered a savvy way of selling more shoes without having to design new shoes.
Offer different colors.
Custom color-ways and themes have always been a part of the sneaker industry however the creativity, until recently, was typically commissioned out to third-party artists who you would go to for shoe-hacking, after you had bought your shoes.
Now, shoe companies, by taking the power back, hiring in-house artists, and cutting out the middle man, no longer needed to wait a year to develop a signature shoe line to create a buzz around a product. Instead they can create new demand almost weekly by outfitting stars with the same shoe, except in a different color or theme.
Lastly, have you had a chance to look at some of these shoes up close? It’s interesting.
I recently bought some KD10’s, not because I ball, but because they look cool and I like them.
Shoe technology has changed.
These shoes are basically a thick, reinforced, compression sock with laces on it, which as I’m describing it sounds incredibly flimsy but is actually very comfortable and supportive.
I also was able to dunk a basketball for the first time ever after this picture was taken.
Which ironically, more people should be talking about.