Alabtross, thine name is praise

Happily, I got a laptop. Before I started grad school, I spent four years living with the NBA, to the point where I would cancel weeknight plans to watch Paul Pierce. Last season Comcast put League Pass into my living room for three whole months, while the rest of Philadelphia was busy with football; I soared as never before, building myself up to the point that, one Sunday afternoon, it made sense for shoefly and myself to watch a Hawks/Pistons battle to the tombs. But with my entire life in front of me and books to read, the 2004-2005 season has been comparatively afar, making this week’s free trial run of League Pass like a wife on another planet. What I discovered was that we now live in an NBA that feeds on its own unevenness, an odd, rocky slate of creation upon which basketball’s future wriggles in the drooping slop of its past, much as huge insects, the first mice and horses, and serpents were once earth’s concomitant rulers. Stepping away may have shaved me of all my rugged affinity for the “single star player dragging around the other four” team, but it has given me the ability to make a chart, a palatial chart, one which I will attempt to reproduce using only letters and numbers. I call it “teams I feel compelled to watch when they’re on League Pass and I’m at home.”

a. Total team onslaught
i. Suns
ii. Wizards
iii. Sonics
iv. Magic

This category speaks for itself. While not necessarily the most winning teams in the league, these are by far its most victorious, its true victors. I would take up collection to be entertained and astounded, from beginning to end, by a contest in which any of these five take part. The Suns need no introduction, and Washington are a distant, but distinguished, second. Don’t sleep on the Sonics—Ridnour has that offense moving like something far more sexy than a catch-and-shot metropolis. The Magic are more exciting than you think, if a little jumbled.

b. Sheer star power
i. Cavs
ii. Heat
iii. Houston
iv. Lakers

The first one here is a no-brainer. LeBron is almost of a pleasure to behold as the entire Suns team put together. The Heat—the Dwyane Wade show—comes in second, despite the fact that Shaq is best contemplated at length, rather than witnessed in the fray, possession after possession. Yao too warrants stray thoughts and extended bleetings, no matter what he does on the court; his floating friend T-Mac, is still slightly more thrilling than Kobe, despite both being stuck in pockmarked offenses.

c. They live in the standings
i. Grizzlies
ii. Bulls
iii. Pacers

All teams that I feel like I should know better than I do. The Pacers, I know a little, but post-brawl Indiana is a work-in-progress whose muted night has only yet begun to dimple. I mean, Stephen Jackson was the Spurs’ go-to guy during key stretches of their last title run, and Jonathan Bender has to mature at some point, right? Why is it that, in this era of prep flailers and Euro enmity, “maturing” is thought to go on indefinitely? Today on ABC, Hubie talked about T-Mac “still learning” how to fit into a Van Gundy offense. Dude’s been in the league for eight years—can't we give him the benefit of maturity and call it "figuring out" or "adjusting?" Hubie also said that Bob Sura was “famous” from atop the key, so I ain’t mad at him.

When did I become this person? What happened to my interest in the forward progress of Josh Smith? The budding stardom of Chris Bosh? The timeless basketball excellence of Jason Kidd or Paul Pierce? Baron Davis, if ever he reach full strength again for more than week? Iverson announced the other day that he “has no more moral victories left,” but he’s still having a career year. KG’s team is in shambles, but he still curses and shrieks as a bony black Viking from the past might have, with or without the Troubled Griffin himself to lighten the mood. Dallas still has some shine, even if they are verging on Sacramento-ish smugness. As regular readers of my column know, Manu is the light of my inner life, even if his team is like dirt on a wheel. Denver, where have you gone? Is Andre Miller so dull that he can turn K-Mart, Camby, Nene, and Melo into unexceptional steam (on a related note, peep Billups’s future view of the Karl-ized Nuggests)?

This is my version of a lengthy response to our first-ever comment by a very welcomed stranger, who accused us of being about nothing and not knowing our shit. These are my actions, and you can squeeze them with all your might—they will offer up nothing but the winkiest bits of matter, as I myself would if you took the Suns away and asked me to walk away from the silent snow around me.

Point of order: I survived massive blood loss! Have their ever been more injuries than in this, o season of petulance?

Pistons fans, I can only hope you one day feel as good as I do! Else, it’s Skita time, and I’m ordering out all night!!