Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Storylines sure to drop

It is as consistent as the moon and the tides, as reliable as the rising sun, as imminent as an athlete’s ill-advised rap album. It is the uber-coverage of the NBA Finals. You can always count on the good folks at ABC to overexpose and overanalyze the same stories they have already been shoving down your throat for the entirety of the seemingly endless postseason, and I promise it will be no different this year. So consider this article a bit of preparation, as the anesthetizing salt before the throat churning tequila. These are the “stories” you should be primed to hear over and over until every ounce of your being that loves watching basketball is stamped out and dead. Oh… and enjoy the finals!

Kobe Bryant: What a difference a season makes!

Did you know that at the beginning of this very same season Kobe Bryant wanted out of L.A.? Shocking isn’t it?

In an impending train wreck that started with one of the most hilariously abrasive cases of teammate bashing ever caught on tape, it looked likely the Lakers franchise was primed to suffer a rebuilding process when Kobe demanded a preseason trade. Only a few years after pushing to get Shaq out of town and make the Lakers his team, Bryant decided the organization had done far too little in giving him the help he needed to get his team back to elite status. He cried “get me out of L.A.” and his home crowd cried “boo” on opening day.

A few short months, the breakout of a once disparaged young center and a trade for a 7-footer later, and all is well in Laker land. Kobe is the MVP, and as far as the goldfish-like attention span of the L.A. faithful is concerned, Everybody Loves Mamba. He’s gone from insisting a change was needed to cheerfully suiting up in the gold and purple night in and night out. And his internet video popularity has shifted from irate ranting to jumping cars and pools of snakes (I hope my wire-fighting team is reeeaaady!). It’s a Hollywood miracle!

Kevin Garnett: What a competitor!

Did you know that first time finalist Kevin Garnett has an undying, inexorable, unquenchable, unfathomably relentless, burning desire to win?

In his first season out of the basketball exile that is Minnesota the basketball watching public has been absolutely inundated with everything Kevin Garnett. Sportscenter has supplied us with endless highlights of KG wide-eyed and pounding his chest while yelling and cursing like a trucker with Tourette’s syndrome. Gatorade has given us commercials that imply the Big Ticket has already led the Celtics to the winner’s circle. And the recent playoff coverage gave us the intimate two-part interview between Garnett and 11-time NBA champion Bill Russell… on winning.

Is it me, or has everyone forgotten that Kevin Garnett has never won anything? KG’s career has been a Barkley-esque perpetual series of disappointments (on the hardwood, not the Craps table). Granted, the best he ever had as a second option was La-Choke Sprewell, but that doesn’t change that he’s simply never come out on top, burning desire or not.

And isn’t there another Celtic that was labeled a franchise player whose career could be validated by a championship? I think he may have even been in Boston for more than one season… I want to say Paul something… eh, I forget. Google it.

Phil Jackson: The Zen Master!

Did you know that thanks to his laid back attitude and his genius-like understanding of basketball Phil Jackson has managed to somehow continue his winning ways?

Yes, that’s right kids; it’s another edition of “why Phil Jackson is the greatest coaching mind of our generation,” hosted by everyone with a damn microphone. Can someone please tell me how it goes almost entirely ignored that Phil Jackson has also had the most dominant player in the entire league on his team for the better part of 20 years?

Zen Master my ass… Phil clearly sold his soul to basketball Satan. In Chicago he gets Michael Jordan, without question the most singularly unstoppable scorer in league history, for a six-championship run. Once that’s over he casually strolls into L.A. and is handed Shaquille O’Neal, quite possible the most unstoppable force in league history, at the peak of his career along with a young player whose skill set strangely resembles that of His Airness, in Kobe Bryant. And this year, oh... we'll give you Pau Gasol for your best pig and a bushel of potatoes. How could you possibly not win with players like that throughout the years? So riddle me this, fans: basketball genius? Or unbelievable case of lucky, hapless son of a bitch? Something tells me that those teams would have done okay whether Phil was manning the clipboard or not.

Coaches or no coaches, with squads this talented it is unlikely the sideline match up will even matter much in these finals either. Then again, Jackson is facing off against Doc Rivers. And let’s be honest, you could replace him with Rock N’ Jock vet Bill Bellamy and the Celts wouldn’t suffer any.

Damn, I’ve got to get the ball rolling on my head coaching career…

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