Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sigh

So… this is real, huh?

We've past the point where I can keep ignoring the NBA lockout.

Out of blind faith that a deal would get done, I've refrained from writing about the NBA lockout, both in the months leading up to July 1, and the 16 weeks since. I naively held out hope that a collection of fabulously wealthy individuals (and the Maloofs), many of whom accumulated said wealth through not only hard work, but dedication to, and respect for, customer and employee alike, would take pause for a least a moment before cynically alienating the two groups on whom they are reliant for their profits.

On Thursday, nearly four months after it began, and after more than two years of speculation and a DiMaggio-esque three consecutive days of negotiation, superstar mediator George Cohen, a man that has brokered labor peace in the Metropolitan Opera, the FAA, the NFL, the MLS and the American Red Cross, informed us that "no useful purpose would be served by requesting the parties to continue the mediation process at this time."

I’m not going to delve into the minutiae of the conflict. I understand the issues at hand and have kept abreast of developments in the battle, but so many in the NBA blogosphere have already done such stellar work on the topic. Plus, I simply don’t want to. However, to briefly summarize my admittedly imperfect and deeply biased perspective on the matter (feel free to torch me if I am way off on any of this): the owners collectively suck at the negotiating table and are not above denigrating their own product and unabashedly urinating on the ideas of “bargaining in good faith” to keep from getting publicly fleeced again.

Thanks to a shortsighted television contract they signed in 2007, the NBA’s owners have deemed the league’s current operating environment- the one that management has employed multiple lockouts to secure- unsustainable. But don’t ask them to actually verify that with, y’know, numbers. Trust your gut.

Sure, locking in $930 million of TV revenue ($31 million per team) for the next eight years seemed like a great insurance policy against the collapse of Western capitalism in the darkest days of 2008 and 2009. However, in 2011, on the heels of the most compelling NBA season in recent memory, it represents the selling of one’s wares at a discount to market price.

Anyway…

Monday, October 17, 2011

Hidden in Plain Sight- Byron Scott With the Showtime Lakers



Byron Scott should be wildly overrated.

Does it bother you that Robert Horry, a completely average player (7 points, 4.8 rebounds per game, 13.4 career PER) when he was not saving dynasties across the Western Conference (to the tune of seven rings), will garner Hall of Fame votes (he won’t get in, but still) in the coming years, while Byron Scott will forever be looking up at the likes of Mo Williams and Jamaal Magloire on the list of career All-Star appearances? It should.

Scott was a central figure- one of the youngest and most exciting at that- in perhaps the most electrifying dynasty in NBA history. In an era in which maybe half a dozen teams received national attention, every meaningful game he ever played was for the big market, TV-friendly Lakers. For all intents and purposes, he was the backcourt partner of the greatest point guard the game has ever seen.

HOWEVAH…

Though beloved in Lakerland, nationally Scott is remembered more as a role player, fortunate for the circumstance in which he found himself, than as one of the best offensive guards of the 1980s.

The 9,053 points he scored in his first seven NBA seasons (1983-84- 1989-90) qualified Scott as one of the NBA’s ten most prolific backcourt scorers during that stretch. Of that group, only four players- Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Rolando Blackman and Scott- shot better than 50% from the field. In terms of True Shooting Percentage, only the aforementioned trio, along with Dale Ellis, equaled Scott’s 56.2% mark.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The NBA's Class of 1993- So Far, So Good

In the weeks preceding the start of the 1993-94 season, along with the anticipation that accompanies the start of each new campaign, the NBA was hit with as big a shockwave as one could envision. On October 6, 1993, on the heels of his third straight championship and at the peak of otherworldly powers, citing waning motivation stemming from a lack of fresh challenges (I don’t know what actually happened, but doesn’t this sound crazier the further we get from it?), Michael Jordan, announced his retirement. This marked the second time in 23 months (the first being Magic Johnson’s November 1991 retirement due to HIV) that one of the NBA history’s most transcendent players had unexpectedly called it quits on the eve of a new season.

With the possible exception of the late 1970s, at no other point in its almost 50-year history had the NBA been in more dire need of young superstars. It was against this backdrop that the members of the Class of ’93, now flush with NBA cash, tipped off their respective careers.

As expected, the can’t-miss duo at the head of the class, Chris Webber and Penny Hardaway, hit the NBA floor running. In his first nine games, Webber averaged 17 points and more than 11 rebounds per game, with six double-doubles (the Warriors were 4-2 in these games, 0-3 otherwise), and, in just his fourth outing, announced his arrival on the NBA scene, taking on one of the game’s all-time greats, with, shall we say, favorable results:



Hardaway, meanwhile, joined the Orlando Magic as the perfect complement to the perimeter duo of Nick Anderson and Dennis Scott, the pick-and-roll prowess of Horace Grant and the force of nature that was a young Shaquille O’Neal. Though he began his NBA career as a two/combo guard (Scott Skiles started for the first half of the season, before being replaced by Dennis Scott), Penny toyed with a triple-double twice in his first seven games, putting up 12- 8- 8 in his pro debut (a blowout win in Miami) and 12- 9- 9 (only fair to mention the six fouls as well) in a six-point loss in Detroit 12 days later.