A fresh, crispy, hot-off-the-grill plate of poetic justice for the Grizzlies, Bucks, and Celtics; meanwhile, rewards to three teams who kept trying all year. I’m still a little wary of Greg Oden; maybe it’s that he didn’t ever seem that dominating in college, or maybe it’s that he spookily looks like Michael Finley’s head transplanted on Kevin Garnett’s body. But there’s no denying that Portland will soon have one of the most solid, young nuclei of talent since the show Three’s Company. As the prized centerpiece, Oden will be the Jack Tripper of the bunch, while Brandon Roy is the reliable playmaker/set-up man Janet, and LeMarcus Aldridge can be Larry—not in every show, but always a threat to steal every scene when he does appear. Needless to say, Zach Randolph is Chrissy: unquestionably the superstar but also a near certainty to be fired, and when—not if—that happens, Portland can replace him with some Cindy and Terry back-ups who maybe are not as explosive, but who are underrated just the same. Presiding over it all is Nate “Mr. Roper” McMillan: not just the landlord supporting actor but a superstar in his own right, capable of his own spin-off team down the line.
As for Seattle, Kevin Durant will be the best thing to happen to this city since the band Mother Love Bone broke up to form Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. And finally, the Atlanta Hawks, have been like the anti-Detroit Lions: while the Lions continue to draft wide receivers they don’t need, the Hawks have continued to not draft point guards that they desperately need. Will they finally come to their senses and get someone like Conley, Jr.?
Thumbs Sideways: LeBron James
I didn’t have a big problem with LBJ passing off at the end of the Cavs' loss to Detroit. I thought he should have taken it himself, but on the other hand, a) he was going to his left, and b) my dog Lincoln—already licking my face passionately—was on the verge of turning it into a full-fledged make-out session, so I didn’t get to see the play too well. The bigger problem is that he only shot 5/15 overall and didn’t get to the foul line once—very strange that he held back like that. It was almost like an intentional strategy on Cleveland’s part. Once the second quarter started, I kept waiting for the cameras to suddenly cut to Coach Mike Brown screaming something in Russian, immediately followed by LeBron exploding on the Pistons like Ivan Drago did on Apollo Creed in Rocky IV. But it never happened; it was like a trap that never sprung.
Thumbs Down: Jerry West and Marty Burns
Though we were treated to that all-you-can-eat buffet of karma for the deliberately tanking teams, we unfortunately had to wash it down with a tall glass of piss-and-moan out of Jerry West afterwards. “The worst teams suffer the most, and they need the help. If you’re in a small market and you happen to have a bad year, it’s a big problem,” the Logo Man whimpered to CNNSI.com’s Marty Burns. Shockingly, Burns agreed, arguing that “there is no proof they (tanked games). On the contrary, both teams won games late that they easily could have lost without anybody questioning it.”
Marty, are you kidding me!?!? Do you remember the lineups the Grizzlies, Bucks, and Celtics were fielding in the second half of the season!? They were like scab teams. “No proof”? They might as well have bloody gloves and DNA-matching hair follicles on their Ford Broncos. And as for West’s pathetic “small market” cop-out, Memphis is the 12th largest U.S. city in the league, ahead of the likes of Boston, Denver, DC, Atlanta, Cleveland, Miami, and Minneapolis. West sounds like a fat guy trying to sue McDonald’s. I hate it when GMs and owners euphemize “fan disinterest” with “small market.” Like I said, justice is done.