Gratiutious Mid-Lockout NBA Blog Post: “Or Lack Thereof” Edition

So this, and for that matter most, NBA-related blogs have been largely quiet for the past few weeks as the awkward reverse-honeymoon period settles in in the post lockout world of the 2011 offseason (or lack thereof) but because my Grandmother reads this blog (and no one else) I am still compelled to post something even if there is quite literally nothing to post about so let’s see what kind of bullshit (sorry Grandma) I can make up.

Although there were a series of oftentimes comedic hiccups at the end of negotiations, the comedy of errors that was the NFL Lockout finally came to a somewhat timely close last week. In spite of what seemed, in the final days of he lockout the NFLPA and the Owners chasing each other Benny Hill-style around the negotiation table (picture Demaurice Smith chasing Goodell out one door and them almost simultaneously both parties reenter on the other side of the room, fleeing Logan Mankins dressed in a gorilla costume) everything was eventually hammered out. Free agency is an (admittedly very exciting) obfusication of blurred together names of players, analysts and teams, buttraining camps will start on time and there will be a full NFL season this year.

So how far does this go in terms of  proving that there may, in fact, be a light at the end of the tunnel for our precious basketball after all despite the overwhelming sense of foreboding that seems to be hanging over the 11-12 season (or lack thereof)? It would seem not very. The talk (or lack thereof) coming from either side does not sound promising and even as official talks are slated to  begin this very Monday morning, the news (or lack thereof) surrounding a possible deal in the works (or lack thereof) is unsettling to say the least.

Basketball Jokes That Are Only Funny At 2 AM #2: 1 AM Edition

Why did Lebron James buy a car with an automatic transmission?

No Clutch.

Basketball Jokes That Are Only Funny At 2 AM #1

Why is Sunday Lebron’s favorite day of the week?

No post.

Shaquille O’Neal: The Big Last of The Mohicans

Superman Shaq Diesel Shaq-Fu Kazaam The Big Aristotle Shaqovitch The Big 401k Shaqtus The Big Shamrock The Big AARP’s retirement means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. To whatever degree you follow basketball, over the last 19 years, Shaq has probably touched your life in one way or another.

The Children:
Michael Jordan undoubtedly defined an era of basketball, some might say even the sport as a whole, but those of us raised in the 90s, during the height of Jordan’s dominance really only remember the tail end of his career. Depending on how far back you can remember, maybe 3 of the 6 rings are fresh in our minds. By the time we were consciously watching basketball, or even aware that basketball was going on around us, Michael had already cemented his dominance as the greatest of all time.

On the other side of that coin, is Shaq. Coming into the league in 1992, Shaq’s career grew with us, from coming in to Orlando as a much-heralded rookie, to winning titles in his prime with LA, to the Heat, to the twilight of his career, drifting from team to team with varying degrees of success, but never quite enough. There are some strong childhood’s end metaphors that maybe only I feel and going into in-depth might be out of place in a piece like this, but at least the chronology lines up right.

The Adults:
Ask anyone over the age of 40 to list the top ten players of all time and 75% of their list will probably be centers. Shaq’s retirement marks the true end of an era in the National Basketball Association: the age of the big, dominant center, the age the pivot man catching passes under the basket and scoring in the post on one end, and playing lockdown defense on the other.

Really, the transition is far less clear and has been slowly happening over the course of the last two decades as the league has become more and more focused on guards and forwards specializing in jump-shooting or slashing from the perimeter, but until his retirement, Shaq had been the last of the dying breed, and is a name that comes up immediately in any discussion regarding the most dominant centers (and even players) of all time.

The Media
This one goes both ways. Nobody keeps track of a stat like this but Shaq is probably number one on the list of sports personalities who have provided great soundbites over the years. Shaq’s relationship in the media, in postgame interviews, in press conferences and beyond the court has always been unique. The trajectory of Shaq’s career probably has him destined to go down the path of the analyst, and probably be extremely successful at it. Shaq even mentioned it himself in his requirement press conference how willing he was to work in the press box, so really  for everything the media is losing here, there are gains to be made as well.

The Players:
Or, more specifically, Dwight Howard. Howard was referenced twice during Shaq’s retirement press conference, once in an indirect, joking sort of manner and once in a much more serious context. Shaq challenged Dwight to win three or four titles, saying he would be personally disappointed if he didn’t. Dwight’s career is still comparatively young, but his similarities to Shaq are undeniable. If Shaq was the last of the dominant centers, Dwight is now the odd man out in a league of guards and forwards.

It’s obvious that Shaq sees a lot of himself in Dwight, and wants him to succeed, perhaps as an extension of himself more than anything. From the battling over the ownership of the “Superman” nickname to the personal challenge to win a title, Dwight Howard and every superstar center that comes into the league in the future will be compared against and follow in the footsteps of Shaquille O’Neal

The Game
There are only a handful of players about which you can say that the game of basketball will never see another like them. Shaquille O’Neal is one of those players.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me but I can’t stop laughing at “VAAAAN GUNDY!”

I hope he takes the Lakers job

Sergeballu LaMu Sayonga Loom Walahas Jonas Hugo Ibaka: He dunks for Africa, he dunks for the children.

A friend of mine (from the internet) made this after the Dunk Contest and, what some (including myself, if we’re being honest with each other) deemed, the unfair victory awarded to Blake Griffin for jumping over the hood of a Kia (the official car of the NBA) and figured now, with Griffin being awarded Rookie of the Year, might be a good time to share it. It was sort of surreal seeing that same dunk on a Kia commercial not even a week later. Draw your own conclusions.
Not to say that Griffin isn’t a skilled player in his own right. He is probably among the most athletic power forwards in the league, if not players in general and is a huge threat under the basket in almost any situation. He won top rookie honors this year and his flashy, physical dunking style is an undeniable sight to behold on the court.
Perhaps because of this, he seems to be the NBA’s new golden boy even though he is on the Los Angeles Clippers (yes, that other team that plays in the Staples Center) although their stock seems to be on the rise on the shoulders of Blake Griffin being catapulted to stardom.
Historically, Donald Sterling, owner of the Clippers, would probably make the decision to trade Griffin or let him go in free agency. His ownership of the Clippers has been riddled with personnel decisions like this, most recently trading away Baron Davis, with whom Griffin had excellent chemistry, at the trade deadline for Mo Williams of the Cavaliers. But maybe this time will be different. Maybe.

Sergeballu LaMu Sayonga Loom Walahas Jonas Hugo Ibaka: He dunks for Africa, he dunks for the children.

A friend of mine (from the internet) made this after the Dunk Contest and, what some (including myself, if we’re being honest with each other) deemed, the unfair victory awarded to Blake Griffin for jumping over the hood of a Kia (the official car of the NBA) and figured now, with Griffin being awarded Rookie of the Year, might be a good time to share it. It was sort of surreal seeing that same dunk on a Kia commercial not even a week later. Draw your own conclusions.

Not to say that Griffin isn’t a skilled player in his own right. He is probably among the most athletic power forwards in the league, if not players in general and is a huge threat under the basket in almost any situation. He won top rookie honors this year and his flashy, physical dunking style is an undeniable sight to behold on the court.

Perhaps because of this, he seems to be the NBA’s new golden boy even though he is on the Los Angeles Clippers (yes, that other team that plays in the Staples Center) although their stock seems to be on the rise on the shoulders of Blake Griffin being catapulted to stardom.

Historically, Donald Sterling, owner of the Clippers, would probably make the decision to trade Griffin or let him go in free agency. His ownership of the Clippers has been riddled with personnel decisions like this, most recently trading away Baron Davis, with whom Griffin had excellent chemistry, at the trade deadline for Mo Williams of the Cavaliers. But maybe this time will be different. Maybe.

The New Kings Of Basketball Comedy

Despite all the overtures to the contrary of the last few months, the future Los Angeles Royals of Anaheim (working title) will remain the Sacramento Kings for another year and my, what a journey it has been. Even with million dollar promises, registered domain names, and, yes, even crying announcers, the Kings will remain in Rochester Cincinnati Omaha Kansas City Sacremento for (at least) one more season. Perhaps they decided the Los Angeles media market was already dominated by the Lakers and whatever that other team that plays there is (with apologies to Blake Griffin), or maybe they just decided the people of Sacramento were too darn nice to abandon so unceremoniously, or maybe it was the $10 million dollars the city managed to raise in sponsorships for them.

I’ll give you three guesses but I bet you won’t need all of them. 

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Four Point Play A blog for basketball and basketball-related endeavors.

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