If you invent a sport that people can play for enjoyment, and it turns out there is such a thing as a certain set of skills which that sport emphasizes, and it turns out there are some people more than others who have an overwhelming advantage over most other people in those skills through a combination of native talents and diligent hard work on them, and those people are so incredible at applying theirs skills to the game which most emphasizes them that layman enthusiasts of the sport are willing to pay money to see these specialists play the sport, well, you should be commemorated somehow. That is an achievement. Kind of.
This is Part 2 of the Very Serious Total Bozo Magazine 2013 NBA Preview That You Need To Read In Order To Waste Your Life On Drivel, where we investigate the important facts about this year's NBA Western Conference teams. Capsules are by Ben Johnson, with additional totally unrelated comments by Kelly McClure.
CLICK HERE FOR PART 1.
Golden State Warriors
Their smallball lineup with Jarrett Jack, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Carl Landry, and David Lee was my favorite NBA unit last year. Jack and Landry are gone, so maybe this year we'll have a version with Curry, Thompson, Lee, Harrison Barnes and Andre Igoudala that will be even better while not being a defensive sieve. That's kind of a shame, because the sieve-ness of that lineup last year is what made it fun. They'd run back on defense and gun for steals and otherwise just hope you'd miss, then turn around and glop a bucketfull of points on your head. I am going to miss them. R.I.P. Warriors small ball 2012-2013.
The Warriors are so much fun to watch they make it almost worth it to walk around saying things like "their smallball lineup was my favorite NBA unit last year" to strangers in the street, just in case one of them goes "I KNOW," and then you can be friends for life. Hey, guy by the train station standing numbly next to the New Jesus Ministry sign: what was your favorite five man lineup in the NBA last year? Heat with Bosh at center? Get a life. Hey, muttering old lady with the unbuckled velcro tennis shoes from 1994, what was your favorite five man lineup in the...
Hey Kelly. What was your favorite five man lineup of the Yardbirds? Ha ha. Just kidding. I don't care.
KMC: I just woke up and am sitting at my desk explaining to my girlfriend who Gavin Mcinnes is because we watched a video of him saying that feminists are depressed because they would really much rather be at home raising kids rather than having a career. We watched this on her phone and then I got up and made coffee. About 45 seconds ago a siren went off outside and I looked over at the window and yelled “WHATS THIS NOISES??”
Los Angeles Clippers
I love how angry Chris Paul always looks on a basketball court. He points and he yells; he takes his mouthguard out and waves it around; he berates officials; he deigns to pretend to listen to Vinny Del Negro; he refuses to pass it to Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan in crunch time because they can't hit foul shots; and yet he somehow seems totally fine with the idea of Jamal Crawford's existence. He's like The Great Dictator out there.
Now the Clippers have Dov Rivers coaching them, so that should help the basketball but hurt the entertainment factor. Rivers is an actual coach who actually yells back and has plans and manages personalities and stuff. Del Negro always had a look on his face like "I don't understand why you're doing this to us." R.I.P. Vinny Del Negro, the Kirk Hammett in Some Kind of Monster of NBA coaches.
Kelly, who's your favorite metal guitarist? Don't say Johnny Marr.
KMC: I’m going to see this metal band called The Body at a metal bar called Saint Vitus on Halloween. They live in Portland, which I think is really funny. Metal bands shouldn’t live in Portland. When I think of going to this show I think about how the chances of people bumping into me there, physically, are 100%.
Johnny Marr lived in Portland for a while, but I think he moved back to England.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers being this bad is just what the sports fan world needs to wash out the "a rhinoceros just took a shit in my mouth" feeling of sitting through a Red Sox vs. Cardinals World Series. Both of THOSE teams are like the broomsticks in Fantasia, and their fanbases are rooting for more water in the well. The Lakers sucking, and having no clear plan for not sucking anytime soon other than LeBron Please Please, is comparably glorious.
The best part is Kobe Bryant, trying to move heaven and earth and eschew all expectations of human medical science to come back from a torn Achilles. He knows that when he comes back he'll be joining the 2013-2014 Lakers, right? It's like he's in a big rush to be as upset as possible.
Meanwhile, Pau Gasol gets to actually enjoy himself on a basketball court without being screamed at by a teammate. He's going to love it. I watched Vantage Point with my girlfriend last night and there's this Spanish guy in it who looks like Pau Gasol. My girlfriend did not know who Pau Gasol is, even though I have a Pau Gasol bobblehead that she's been trying to throw away for the last three years. She doesn't care who that bobblehead is a likeness of. She just thinks "I want that random basketball guy GONE."
Kelly: What's your worst home decoration?
KMC: My home decorations are solid. I DO spend a lot of my days making sure that there are no visible cords anywhere though. The cable cord for the cable box is white and it haunts me. I’m probably gonna end up buying a rug just for the purpose of covering that cord.
I really hope some poor deluded Suns fans make a sign that says "Lensanity" in honor of recent draftee Alex Len. Whether or not that happens constitutes the entirety of my interest in the 2013-2014 Phoenix Suns.
Kelly: have you seen this clip? I saw James Taylor perform once in an intimate setting and it was so boring I had an out of body experience.
KMC: My girlfriend is awake now. She just walked into the kitchen and sang the words “There’s a dick on the sink.” That’s because there’s a dick on the sink. I washed it with my popcorn bowl that I was too lazy to wash before bed last night.
If you want to see a group of people who get paid millions of dollars to do something they apparently HATE, you should watch the Sacramento Kings play basketball. They also hate being in Sacramento. It's like if I got $7 million a year to live in the suburbs of Nashville and be a Professional Wandering Around Target Looking For The Keurig Cups And An Appropriate Lampshade guy. I'd hate the job, and when I was done, I would go home and hate my home and my life.
These guys jack shots and shrug off their defensive responsibilities like I grab the nearest possible workable thing I might be looking for and get the hell out of there so I could go, I don't know, play Angry Birds in a Jamba Juice for two hours, or whatever people do for fun in the suburbs of Nashville. But with the Kings all you get to see is how they are on court, A.K.A. Target, and The Sacramento Kings would very apparently all rather be sitting in the car listening to a Foreigner rock block on 97.9. That how much they hate playing professional basketball in Sacramento. They treat it like it's less fun than listening to "Double Vision" followed by "Juke Box Hero," which is NOT FUN.
Kelly: what's your least favorite place?
KMC: There is no place on earth worse than Olympia, Washington. If someone offered me free rent for life, and an unlimited grocery store charge card, and a pretty good possibility of becoming the town’s mayor, I wouldn’t do it. If I became an evil comic book villain somehow, that would be the first place I’d do villain shit on.
JJ. Barea in the 2010 playoffs was the last time anything fun happened to the Dallas Mavericks, and then they let him go and now they're the Dallas Maverzzzzzzzzzz. Not even Monta Ellis can make this morass watchable, because these days, not even Monta Ellis is Monta Ellis. He's like Monta Ellis if you took away all the sometimes ever making a shot.
The Mavs have been an "oh yuck" viewing option for so long it's kind of surprising whenever you find yourself going "what about the Mavs" in your head and then Shawn Marion pops in there and you go "oh yeah, Shawn Marion." Remember Shawn Marion, you guys? The Matrix. They called Shawn Marion The Matrix because that's a thing that was happening while they were giving out nicknames back then. I am all about dated nicknames.
Here are the Dallas Mavericks dated nicknames starting five:
PG - Jose "Double Dip Recession on Defense" Calderon
SG - Monta "Yes We Can" Ellis
SF - Shawn "The Matrix" Marion
PF - Dirk "Shooter McGavin" Nowitzki
C - Samuel "Samuel Dalembert" Dalembert
You ever have a nickname, Kelly?
KMC: People do that stupid thing from Cheers in my face sometimes. When it happens I’m always just like “oh yeah. You’re doing that thing.” That’s not a nickname though. I kind of hate it when people call me “Kell.”
Everybody loves the James Harden trade for the Rockets, but it killed Linsanity dead. Poor Jeremy Lin. He was the undisputed King of New York for like three weeks while sleeping on a buddy's couch, and probably didn't have the personality to really capitalize on that, and then he got injured, and then he got picked up by the Rockets, and then he got immediately replaced as the primary ballhandler, distributor, and pick and roll initiator. Now he's just a smaller, below average defensive point guard running around without the ball, leading the second unit for short stretches, and collecting a paycheck. The electricity is gone. Poor guy is going to bounce around the league like Luke Ridnour for another ten years.
We're still feeling the fallout from that wacky lockout shortened season schedule where every team had three games a week. There are so many injured guys in the league now, and I'd venture to guess that the 2011-2012 season's abnormal wear and tear has a lot to do with it. But that season did give us Linsanity, where a backup backup backup Harvard-educated Asian American point guard took over and rejuvenated one of the league's marquee franchises, and that was a weird magical thing.
Even though many of the best and most exciting players are/were hurt over the last two years (Rose, Rondo, Westbrook, Love, Rubio, Bynum--R.I.P. Bynum, Kobe, Wall, etc. etc. etc.), it's almost a shame we have to go back to the regular trudge of an 82-game October-to-April schedule. The NBA regular season can feel like a band that only plays plodding midtempo numbers, like say Pearl Jam, and the 2011-2012 season was like one of those semi-incindiary post-Cobain Pearl Jam songs where you're like, "Whoa, this actually comes close to kind of rocking, how come they don't just always do this?"
Kelly Kelly Kelly McClure, king of the wild frontier; butthead. That is a weird thing my junior year of high school history teacher would say sometimes. You're supposed to say "stop" before I can get to the part where I call you a butthead. He was the best teacher I've ever had.
KMC: My first grade teacher’s name was Ms. Quackenbush. She told my Mom once that I was a “chatty Cathy” and my Mom was like “we literally thought she was a deaf mute.”
I am a complete asshole, pretty much, and that is something I know about myself and try my best to rectify whenever possible. I don't always succeed. Recently I got a puppy, and that is helping with the asshole thing because I have to take care of this cute idiot furry thing and my life is full of these weirdly tender moments where I'm putting a harness on a living creature while murmuring soothing nonsense sounds.
I don't know if I'm going to become a Dog Person now or not. I mean, there's dog people, like "yeah, I have a dog, dogs are great," and then there's capital D capital P Dog People who are like, "I'm about dogs. My life is dogs and dog things." I enjoy having a dog. I like making small talk with other dog owners in my neighborhood about topics in doghaving. Dogs are like sweet family members who make everything nicer and give everybody something to do and focus on. But in an emergency apocalypse situation if they can't help me forage for food they become meat pretty much right away. That's where I am on the dog lover spectrum. I'm a realist. But I'm not married to that. I've only had a dog for like two months now. She's been doing a good job of pooping outside and I like that, except this weekend she stole and ate an entire sloppy joe, and her schedule's been all messed up.
Zach Randolph spent the first however many years of his NBA career acting like a grade-A asshole, and now he's a total Dog Person. I love Zach Randolph. If there's hope for Zach Randolph to find a little equilibrium in his life via rescuing and caring about dogs, there's hope for all of us. I mention this because the Memphis Grizzlies are a chore to watch.
Kelly: you and your girlfriend have a combined two cats. That is not a question. That's just a thing I know. You could talk about that if you want, I guess.
KMC: We were so scared on the day when my GF first brought her cat over to live here. We kept her cat and my cat in different parts of the apartment, separated by a huge painting, and then they met and it was no big deal. They hissed for like half a day and now they play like friends and my cat, who’s older, has a renewed appreciation for life. It’s really nice to experience.
New Orleans Pelicans
When they were the Hornets they always had these sadly desperate regional publicity campaigns with slogans like "Basketball: Hey, Maybe We Could Watch That, But No Biggie You Guys" and "Do You Guys Even Know About The Hornets: Apparently They Play Basketball In The City You Live In."
Now they're the "new look" Pelicans, and they pulled a bunch of offseason roster moves, presumably so they'd be a better team right away and basketball fans in NOLA would associate the new name with a team that plays basketball well and sometimes even wins basketball games. I think this is a good move, though most people who talk about basketball for a living say they've forever ruined both their specific team and the general idea of having a basketball team by giving up two first round picks for Jrue Holiday and paying a bunch of money for Tyreke Evans.
People who talk about sports get so crazy about being as good as possible in the long term and always always trying to build towards a title. I think pundits do this because they're all secretly trying to position themselves as plausible executive suite candidates for an NBA team and the "your only goal is to win a championship" mentality sounds take-chargey. But almost no teams ever win a Championship. Every year, only 3% of NBA teams win the NBA Championship. If you're trying to assess an organization's level of success, getting caught up in a binary yes/no with an outcome that has only a 3% chance of happening is probably not the best way to live your life. This is why the Lakers are so hilarious right now.
The Pelicans will be good this year. They might not be great, but they will be watchably good. You're asking people to pay you money in order to watch a team play basketball. Trotting out Greivis Vasquez (as much as I like him), Xavier Henry, and a gift certificate that says "wait until Nerlens Noel gets healthy" are not great ways to accomplish that. The additions of Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans constitute progress. If you're trying to sell tickets and television broadcast rights to people who might want to watch other people play basketball, it helps to have a team that will play as watchable of a version of basketball as possible. Let's not overthink this. "But they will be even MORE fun to watch later if we make sure they're TERRIBLE to watch right now" is not always sound reasoning.
And that, dear friends, is what it sounds like when I put on my "sports pundit" helmet. It smells like puke and panic sweat in this thing.
Kelly: what is the craziest thing you can remember wearing as an actual "this is what I'm wearing right now because I can't be naked" non-costume outfit?
KMC: Well I bought this pizza shirt to wear to my work’s CMJ party last week and I thought it was gonna be this really cool “I’m here to party” shirt, but everyone made fun of me. Maybe it’s because I’m almost 40 years old. Whatever.
San Antonio Spurs
Oh man, here's another one. Sports pundit people love to say that you're not a true fan of basketball unless you enjoy watching the San Antonio Spurs. What do you get for being a "true fan of basketball?" An antique hand-cranked penis-buffing machine, so you can put your penis in there and crank away and moan about the efficiency of the corner three and the importance of helping the helper as a series of cantilevered wooden dowels brings you to a juttering climax?
I don't like the Spurs as much as I like other teams because of Tim Duncan's ongoing war against the human personality, Tony Parker's irritating Frenchness, Manu Ginobli's high-kneed and unflashy style of driving to the hoop, and Tiago Splitter's inability to wear sunglasses on the court at all times like he'd clearly prefer. I like them more than I like some other teams because of Gregg Popovich's responses to sideline reporters, Kawhi Leonard coming out of the closet as an openly great basketball player, Danny Green being occasionally electric, Marco Bellinelli learning defense in Chicago last year, and Matt Bonner being a funny dude. I am a grownup and I am entitled to those opinions about the San Antonio Spurs. I'm sorry if that means I'm not good enough at watching basketball for you.
And now I am going to eat something because writing about basketball when I'm hungry turns me into one of those guys who talks about sports like everything's an argument they need to win. If I starved to death, my last words would probably be "But at the end of the day..." and then a long final mouthy exhalation.
Kelly: what is your preferred shape for a pretzel, because I think rings are seriously underrated, but at the end of the day... hurrrrrrhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
KMC: I just went into the kitchen to tell my GF that she doesn’t need to worry about making me breakfast because she’s sick, and she yelled “Get out of here! I already greased the pan!”
Oh yeah, I forgot to add Danilo Gallinari to my list of people who it sucks are hurt. I always think of this when I hear "Gallinari." Galli (galli) Nari (nari). This song plays, and Danilo is wearing a white silk scarf and climbing out of a 1989 Lamborghini, adjusting his white linen jacket, and escorting a blonde into the nightclub from Scarface. I have no idea if this is accurate to Gallinari's personality, but he is both Italian and rich, so I figure there's at least a chance.
That is all I want to say about the Denver Nuggets because I just ate pizza and don't need to wax philosophical about George Karl, although if you don't follow Sexy George Karl on Twitter, you're doing yourself a huge disservice.
Kelly: got anything to add?
KMC: Have you seen that picture of Kim Kardashian that everyone was passing around on the internet a few days ago? It’s basically of her in a closet or something showing her butt. I looked at the picture more than five times. Kim and Kanye just got engaged and I have to wonder if he finally decided to pop the question because of that picture. What kind of ring would Kanye buy for someone? I wonder if he picked it out himself.
This might be in my top eleven favorite YouTubes of all time. If you haven't clicked on any other links in this post, they're probably just all that one because it's the only thing in the world that ever needs to be linked to.
Hey Kelly, who is in your internal list of top five best all time Montenegrin centers?
KMC: I need to find a better news channel. I watch Channel 12 Brooklyn News in the morning, because it’s local news and seems like it would be the best, but they repeat the same 15 minute packages over and over and over and it’s mostly about dog shelters. I just wanna know who got shot on my street while I was sleeping.
Oklahoma City Thunder
We can trade James Harden. Our fans read the business page. They're savvy. They know about internal rate of return and the marginal utility curve. We'll be fine. We're doing great. Basketball is fun.
KMC: What’s with “thunder sticks?” Do they still sell those at games?
Portland Trail Blazers
I've never been to Portland. I feel like I'd enjoy it the exact way that the comedy math works in the Sideshow Bob stepping on rakes routine. Like how it's funny once, more funny twice, very funny three times, less funny four times, dramatically unfunny five through eight, then hysterical nine through thirteen, then you are turning off the TV and going out to live your life if it goes any longer than that.
I feel like I want the Blazers to be good because they're in a market that only has a basketball team and are the only game in town and those people out there would love it. And the idea of LaMarcus Aldridge dating Penny Marshall in that one episode of "Portlandia" made me laugh on the inside of my brain the way "Portlandia" does that more often than external laughing. I read about how Aldridge wants to be traded and that makes me sad because it was so funny, like funny odd, you know, "Portlandia" funny, that he dated Penny Marshall. And what a shame it is that these enchanted people in this enchanted place might lose a guy like that who's good at basketball and has a sense of humor about himself.
Then I realize I don't know or care about those people. They can do other Oregon things like surf on an ugly beach or go hang out near a tree in the rain or murder a hitchhiker while singing about their feelings with an electric guitar. Anyhow, the Blazers.
Kelly, you've spent time out there. That's another thing I know.
KMC: The worst part about that is that my GF’s two closest friends just moved to Portland and now she’s hinting that we should move there. I’d rather die. I’m really campaigning for upstate New York. I saw an ad for a two bedroom cabin overlooking the water in Woodstock for $1,500. That would be like a dream. We’d have to buy a car though. I saw a van for sale by the post office the other day for $2,800. That seems reasonable.
I watched a Jazz game last year where the local broadcast team reminded people to tune in to the next game because Jimmer Fredette was going to be in town. He probably played 12 minutes in that game as a concession to the crowd. I feel like I learned a lot about the Jazz and Jazz fans by seeing that. Come on out and see Jimmer. Not Paul Millsap or Al Jefferson or even Gordon Hayward. Come see Jimmer Fredette not get any minutes for the Sacramento Kings. Should be a good one.
I mean, I realize if you're in Utah and the Sacramento Kings are coming to town, you use the Jimmer angle and you hope it sticks because "guys who HATE basketball" isn't gonna cut it, but still. I grew up in Maryland. The Wizards never billed a game as "the return of Steve Blake," and it wouldn't work if they did. I have a feeling the Jazz are going to wish Jimmer and the Kings were coming to town a lot more often this year.
Kelly: what's your go to dance floor filler. Wrong. It's Archie Bell and the Drells "Tighten Up."
KMC: When I worked at VICE I was constantly being asked to DJ at places and I was always like “I would never do that.” Really it was because I didn’t want people to know that all I listen to is Beyonce, Morrissey, and Sufjan Stevens.
And there you have it, folks. We talked about the entire NBA. It's 2013. Basketball is about to start. There's a dick on the sink. Enjoy.
Just FYI, you can follow us on Twitter at @TotalBozo if you're into that kind of a thing.