100 Things I Love About the NBA

NBA

1. Turning on NBATV late at night and watching five fun-filled minutes of Golden State vs. Phoenix. I fall asleep after the Warriors drop 37 in the first quarter. I wake up eight hours later to a 92-87 final score. For this reason, I only watch the first five minutes of every Warriors game.

2. The fact that the Clippers prefer a low-percentage lob to a high-percentage layup on the fast break.

3. Brandon Jennings’ pull-up 27-footers…with 19 seconds left on the clock.

4. Steve Nash’s ability to penetrate, run in circles, and ultimately find a cutting teammate for an easy score. Also, the way he immediately brushes his hair back and locks in on defense after every successful offensive possession. In his 10 years as the best passer in the league, I’ve never seen him celebrate once.

5. The crowd’s reaction when Joakim Noah catches the ball 18 feet from the basket, wide open.

6. The complete and utter lack of follow-through in Carmelo Anthony’s shot. He’s averaged 25 a game for his career with that annoying little flick. It resembles Michael Vick’s pass, both in appearance and accuracy.

7. Watching a nationally televised Spurs game, and seeing that same scenic view of downtown San Antonio during every timeout. It’s been recycled since their run of dominance started in ’98.

8. The Miami Heat fan base and their misconception that their playoff “whiteouts” triggered a league-wide trend. That honor goes to Golden State (gold) in 2007, and Utah (light blue) shortly thereafter. No coincidence that these are my two favorites.

9. Holding out hope that Tayshaun Prince will return to form after years of decline.

10. Orlando’s conviction—during the Dwight Howard years—that they are still the best team in Florida. They played Miami tougher than anyone.

11. Players diving into the stands to “save a ball” when it is entirely unnecessary.

12. Kobe’s ability to morph from a fun-loving, smiling goof into Mr. Clutch. Before the ball is inbounded, he’s off talking to a courtside fan; the next second, he’s knocking down that turnaround in your face.

13. When Andre Miller goes absolutely mental. If you’ve never seen his 52-point performance against Dallas, Youtube it immediately.

14. Seeing Jason Terry, Lou Williams, or Jamal Crawford quietly sneak over to the scorer’s table late in the first quarter.

15. Rajon Rondo’s preference to slip a pass behind the back or between his legs, as opposed to a straight chest or bouncer. Unlike Lob City on the break, Rondo’s much-lauded passes are always on the mark.

16. The last man on the bench celebrating late-game heroics. Most recently, Chris Duhon shredding air guitar. But nothing will ever trump Mark Madson in the 2001 NBA Finals. Nothing.

17. Teams who are still associated with superstars they haven’t had for years. Indiana and Toronto, most notably. Reggie Miller and Vince Carter, where you at?

18. Teams you refuse to watch until mid-April. Sorry, Memphis.

19. That split second when Russell Westbrook has the ball at the top of the key and he makes the executive decision to “do his thang.” The majority of such occurrences result in a trip to the line or a flying tomahawk. Oak City fans can’t complain; it’s guaranteed points.

20. The highly publicized, frequently emulated Jeremy Lin-Landry Fields handshake. It’s original and applicable to just about any social situation. If you’re lucky enough, the camera man will find his way over to the duo before tip-off.

21. Players who refuse to get tatted up (Kobe, for a while).

22. Players who resemble another athlete, actor, or celebrity. Here’s a couple fun ones: Ersan Ilyasova and Spiderman’s main man James Franco.

23. Wondering what would happen if Chris Anderson and Cherokee Parks ever collided in mid-air, or, for that matter, fought for a loose ball.

24. The baffling fact that 4 vs. 5 playoff matchups are rarely as exciting as 2 vs. 7, and, of late, 1 vs. 8.

25. The crazy guy (season-ticket holder, no doubt) who sits between the Sixers’ bench and the scorers’ table. His game-time routine includes berating opponents, obstructing the path of head coach Doug Collins, and falling to his knees to watch every big possession. Alan Horwitz, known in Philly as “Old Man Knees”, is an older, more agile Spike Lee.

26. The music business’ partial ownership of NBA franchises: Jay-Z (Nets), Will Smith (Sixers), and surely soon to follow, LMFAO. Just give them time.

27. “I think we found Kyrie Irving.”

28. The draft lottery. Only professional sport in North America with such a system. It gives fringe playoff teams a chance at stealing quality talent and getting over the hump. And it makes for another exciting, must-watch event for fans of dismal teams.

29. The thought that Adam Morrison once donned an NBA jersey.

30. The New Orleans Hornets’ Mardi Gras jerseys. They’re straight out of Pistol Pete’s book, with a dash of sea green. Worth noting is the irony of wearing these sick shirts against the Lakers or Clips. “NOLA”.

31. Knowing that a professional sports franchise overhauled their enter look—jerseys and colors—to properly welcome the “Chosen One.” In 2003, with the drafting of Lebron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers switched from the blue and black of old to more appropriate royal colors: whine and gold.

33. J.J Barea, the kid never picked on the playground, is married to Miss Universe 2006.

34. Childhood memories. My dad took me to a Sixers-Celtics game in January of 06 that ended in a 125-124 Philly victory. The game took three overtime sessions (way past my bedtime) and featured 30-plus performances from Iverson, Webber, and Pierce. Confirmed my love of the game.

35. The incessant LeBron/Kobe debate. I will die before it is settled.

36. Little big guys (DeJuan Blair) and big little guys (Landry Fields). The game of basketball is constantly changing, and we’re seeing less and less player molds.

37. Coaches who let their players play and rarely get up, save for timeouts and halftime. See Kevin McHale.

38. Trying to imitate Detroit Pistons PA announcer John Mason. It has been tried by many and accomplished by few. “Chauncey Bbbbbbbb..b….b……Billups!”

39. The ill-contrived argument that college basketball is better than professional basketball because of better defense, better rivalries, and better atmosphere. Not even gonna touch that one.

40. Doug Christie. There will never be a more likeable individual in the NBA. I’ve been waiting for one since his official retirement in 2007. Leading candidate? Brian Scalabrine. Not even close.

41.When Jeff Van Gundy goes on and on about the most pointless things. For instance, JVG can’t accept the fact that the Sonics and Thunder share a history in the stat books. He thinks they should be considered two different franchises altogether, each having their own career stats leaders, win-loss history, etc. Maybe someday Van Gundy will get his wish.

42. Tolerating the Lakers’ white jerseys for the simple fact that Kobe once dropped 81 in those babies.

43. Kevin Garnett’s resilience. KG was eliminated from the playoffs in the first round seven straight years, and went on to win an NBA Championship. “Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”—Winston Churchill.

44. When Delone West’s mid-range game is almost as lethal as the three loaded firearms he was carrying when arrested by police in September 2009.

45. The original big three. Before there was LeBron-Wade-Bosh, before there was Pierce-Allen-Garnett; there was Cassell-Allen-Robinson. Though they never won it all, these Bucks started a revolution in the way GMs construct teams.

46. Spending more time on Rumor Central than any man ever should.

47. The way LeBron gallops down the court. If you pay close attention, he travels every time he has the ball. But who’s looking?

48. Wondering if Josh Childress and Shawn Marion learned to shoot on those 20-foot-high baskets they have at boardwalks.

49. Ron Artest-Ben Wallace pregame handshakes.

50. Veterans who get picked up as “the missing piece” for championship hopefuls. More often than not, they’re big men who’ve played on 11 of the 30 NBA teams and who have over 1,000 minutes of postseason experience under their belt. They trade six minutes and three personal fouls/game for a shot at a ring; quite the symbiotic relationship if you ask me.

51. Really weird or awesome (whatever you’re into) free throw routines. They give us all something to do in the driveway, perfecting every meticulous detail from knee bend to elbow inclination.

52. NBAShop.com

52. Wishing that the Charlotte Bobcats were better so you could sport their jersey in public and not take heat for it. That gray-orange-blue mix they got going on looks like something out of Major League Soccer. We’re all secretly waiting for the day it can be worn loud and proud by NBA fans everywhere.

53. Watching the NBA year after and year after year and seeing the increasing levels of athleticism and talent in players coming out of college. Similarly, imagining how gameplay will be different in 10 or 20 years because of these freak athletes.

54. Guys like Dwayne Wade who are constantly inventing new and interesting ways to score. In an era dominated by the slam dunk and three point shot, Wade prefers the fade-away bank shot off one foot. To Wade-like players, basketball is not a routine, but an art.

55. Shouting “Dos Minutos!” at the most inappropriate times.

56. Hearing a player scream “And one!” after throwing up a shot that has no chance of falling.

57. The exponential increase of the word “Mozgov” in the English language.

58. Looking back on “super teams” that never really panned out. My favorite? The ‘03-‘04 L.A. Lakers, who started four will-be Hall of Famers.

59. Arena music. All-time greats include Van Halen’s “Jump”, The Black Eyed Peas’ “Let’s Get It Started”, and the less known but equally enthralling “Lights and Sounds” by Yellowcard. Not to be confused with general sports pump ups—Ozzy’s “Crazy Train” and Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger.” Certain music has always been and will always be strictly basketball music.

60. Refs who ignore offensive and defensive three-second calls in the 4th quarter of every game. Thank you.

61. Well-constructed (and successful) inbound plays. Such a simple, overlooked part of the game, and underappreciated when executed correctly. The ball is being thrown in exactly one foot from the basket. Don’t “Flutie” it 35 feet down court; find a way to put it through the hoop.

62. When Cheryl Miller wears heels. She is lifted to 6”6, on par with the average NBA player. I can actually hear the halftime interview, and not be distracted by the constant stream of sweat dripping down on the reporter.

63. The nature of the game itself. In baseball and football, we’re forced to endure slow painful tilts in score. Professional basketball is a game of runs, and there’s nothing better than running your opponent into the ground. In a matter of minutes, a three point lead climbs to 14, and before you know it, 23.

64. The marriage of the NBA and Twitter.

65. Playing with Tracy McGrady on NBA Live 2004 and doing literally whatever the hell you wanted on the court.

66. Bimonthly predicting playoff scenarios from December to April. This can entail everything from searching the remaining schedule (no matter how extensive) of teams in contention, to drawing up “if the playoffs started today” schematics on the closest available sheet of paper.

67. Players who suffer serious injuries early in the game, go to the locker room for treatment, and return to impact the game somehow in the 4th quarter. Happens more than you’d think.

68. The number of times Herb Magee is mentioned over the course of the season. Anyone know where he currently coaches? Hint: also his alma matter. Anyone?…Anyone?…Bueller?

69. Josh Harrellson, and the “if he can play in the NBA, why can’t I?” anger that he evokes in all of us. Rumor has it he’s on the ballot for next year’s NBA All-Star Weekend Skills Challenge.

70. Kirk Heinrich, Luke Ridnour, and Steve Blake. They’re a rare breed, but seem to find a degree of success no matter whom they play for.

71. The “dance cam,” now a staple in NBA arenas across the country. It’s fun whether you’re winning or losing.

72. The 30-second blood rule. Football, hockey, and soccer, at times, are all more brutal than basketball and neither has any such rule. So why basketball? The complete stupidity and baselessness of this rule, ironically, is the reason it made my list.

73. “Where Amazing Happens” commercials. Shivers every time.

74. When the ball starts in one corner, gets whipped around the top of the key by three successive players, and is drilled home in the opposite corner. Probably the ideal offensive possession, in that it exhausts defenders, makes them look silly, and requires little to no effort on the part of the attacking team.

75. The full court press: especially effective after a 17-15 opening quarter. Gets guys running, blood flowing, and all the transition baskets your heart desires.

76. That awkward moment when everybody realizes Jeremy Lin is just a poor man’s Steve Nash. In the end, it comes down to this—Linsanity was real and it was fun…but it wasn’t real fun.

77. Ricky Rubio. What’s not to love? He’s an entertainer by nature, not just for show. Every player to ever pick up a basketball learns the fundamentals and then experiments with the flair. Rubio is the polar opposite. In this sense, he is the Benjamin Button of basketball. He’s 21 years old, guys. Give him time.

78. Shaun Livingston’s courageous attempt at a comeback after tearing his entire left knee apart. Most players would never again step foot on the court.

79. Realizing that, if he wanted to, Rajon Rondo could drop 25 a game. Defenders respect his court vision so much that they give him ample room to maneuver over all 94 feet. One of these days, he’s going off for 50.

80. The way every Skip Bayless argument comes back to Lebron. When Tebow goes for 400 all purpose yards and 4 TDs, when Justin Verlander wins the AL CY Young and MVP, when RGIII has an outstanding combine, it’s all because of something LeBron did or did not do.

81. January 22nd, 2006. Subtle enough?

82. “Great move in the lane by Arte..Metta World Peace.” Basketball fans under the age of 12 know him as “the guy with the cool name change.” The rest of us, well…

83. The way Derek Fisher loads up for a jump shot like he’s firing a catapult. He launches his entire body into the air with enough thrust to “wake a catatonic” (cred: Ray Hudson).

84. The Denver Nuggets from 2007 to 2009–the most tattooed team in NBA history. We’re talking every square inch head to toe. Melo, K-Mart, Anthony Carter, Iverson, Von Wafer, J.R Smith, Birdman, and the list goes on.

85. The Bradley Center in Milwaukee. Decked out in forest green, it’s got that old-school, soft-rim, “run up and down the gym” feel to it. Always looks like a great place to play ball.

86. The evolution of the shooting sleeve.

87. When David Stern steps to the podium on draft night and is met with a shower of boos. To this day, I still don’t know if his actions merit the level of abuse we dish out, but man is it fun.

88. The Elias Sports Bureau and their work with the NBA. If it wasn’t for them, Mike James’ 21 PPG “Where did this come from?” season with Toronto in 05-06 would be lost to history. Thank goodness it wasn’t.

89. The NBA’s continued effort to reach unprecedented levels of awesome, like seeing Shaq perform on stage with the Jabbawockeez.

90. Rick Adelman. We have what appears to be a mix between a Civil War general and a late 19th century U.S. president coaching in the NBA.

91. The way J.R. Smith decides before the ball is even brought up court whether he is going to be the one shooting or not. If he does, he’ll dribble around, sneakily avoid a couple “five seconds closely guarded” calls, and throw up a jump shot that has a 31.2% chance of falling. If he sees the call is for Melo (or Amare, God bless us) he politely removes himself from the play and doesn’t take part in the offense whatsoever.

92. Natural scorers. We’re all sick and tired of the “he can impact a game without scoring” argument. Herm Edwards reminds us “YOU PLAY TO WIN THE GAME!” Last time I checked, you win by scoring more than your opponent.

93. The fact that there is no direct relationship between average age of players on a team and winning percentage. The clear-cut powerhouses in the west—San Antonio and OKC—are at opposite ends of the age spectrum.

94. Christmas Day basketball. No matter how much it screws with the league’s schedule, the schedule makers ensure us four or five tremendous games to watch as we’re curled up by the fire sipping hot chocolate.

95. The likelihood that there is a place in this league, somewhere, on some team, in some rotation…for Bismack Biyombo.

96. The absence of hybrid stats  until just recently. For years, there had yet to emerge a basketball equivalent of WHIP or OPS, and rightly so. That Bill James nonsense should be kept to the Hollinger Power Rankings.

97. Looking back on dunk contests of old and seeing which young guys panned out as actual players and which didn’t. You have your Fred Jones’s and Gerald Greens, and then you have your Jason Richardsons and Josh Smiths. Any predictions on Jeremy Evans? The bidding starts at Jonathan Bender.

98. The 2011-2012 Orlando Magic, because there’s no predicting what would happen on any given night. Stan Van Gundy looked on in an arms-folded, head-cocked stupor as his team registered a 20 point second half during a early-season visit to the Gaahden.

99. Hating Carlos Delfino for the simple fact that it’s really easy to hate someone who has no chance of hurting you or having any sort of impact on the outcome of the game.

100. “Anything is possible!!!!!!”

Matt Bell
Georgetown University Class of 2016

Follow Matt on Twitter: @mjbell16
Follow GSABR on Twitter: @GtownSports

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