Dancing With Noah

Just messing around, getting triple doubles

Sunday to Monday Thoughts on Basketball #9

Another week saturated with Donald Sterling coverage, the NFL draft, Spurs domination, humans taking strong political/social stands on issues that are easy to support (Nigeria kidnapping, Sterling racism, Michael Sam), and likely some other things. But you didn’t come here for social commentary or the news, you’re likely here because, like me, you want the basketball. So let’s get us the basketball:

  • Inevitably, Donald Sterling refuses to go away. Sterling is a powerful example of problems with our legal system: If you have the resources, you can take any fight to the courts. Sterling took to CNN to chat with that soft-hitting journalist/TV personality Anderson Cooper in what turned out to be a predictably self-absorbed interview (if you want to call it that). In the interview, he takes a dig at Magic Johnson, lays it on thick with self-pity, and simultaneously asks for forgiveness while rationalizing his comments. If there’s a way to come across as an entitled billionaire asshole, then Sterling gets a gold star. To paraphrase the legendary Dennis Green: He is who we thought he was.

  • While husband Donald was chatting with Cooper, wife Shelly Sterling was sitting across from Barbara Walters doing her part to keep the team in the family. Shelly’s attorneys are already making statements and her conversation with Walters looks and feels like nothing more than an extension of the public relations damage control her estranged husband is putting forth. There’s more self-pity and attempts at manipulation, but with a funneled message driving towards one Sterling or another retaining ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers. While it’s important to acknowledge that Donald and Shelly Sterling are humans made of the same flesh and stardust that comprise you and I, prone to the same mistakes we are, it’s equally important call out the attempts to manipulate, both public perception and the courts, and avoid accountability in a self-serving fashion.

 

  • Sticking with the Sterling shit storm saga; while Commissioner Adam Silver has been applauded for his zero tolerance stance on Sterling and LeBron James has been one of the most outspoken players on the topic, let’s acknowledge there was no other alternative here. Silver and James have nothing to lose by attempting to toss Sterling out of the league. From Silver’s perspective, it behooves the league to do everything it can to oust an owner who is a threat to the league’s brand and jeopardizes relationships with league sponsors. In taking the nuclear route of a lifetime banishment, Silver accomplishes several things:
    • He responds to pressure from his players and sponsors
    • He anticipates Sterling’s legal maneuvering
    • He shifts the decision making process to two places: the league’s owners (Which of these owners wants to be known as billionaire that supported racist Donald Sterling? It’s not simple, but that’d be the interpretation.) and likely the courts. If Sterling can find a way to retain the team through one of those avenues, then it’s no fault of Silver’s, rather he’s the enforcer, it’s out of his hands.
    • He’s doing what feels right.
    • He avoided a potential player protest which would’ve created a terribly awkward public exchange between the league and its players.

 

      • More from the world of stupid: You may remember former Ole Miss shooting guard, loose cannon, shot chucker, and sometimes attention-glutton, Marshall Henderson, as a March Madness storyline from 2013. Henderson has weaseled his way back into headlines for tweeting this about Michael Sam’s on-air kiss with his boyfriend after being drafted: “Boycotting sportscenter til this Michael sam nasty ass shit is off …. My brothers are 7 and 11 and saw that!!!! #SICKENING.” This tweet was followed up with Henderson clarifying that he was tweeting those hateful views on behalf of a gay friend who asked him to do so to gauge public reaction. There’s no acknowledgement that Henderson or his friend could’ve just as easily searched Twitter to get a decent gauge of public opinion – from non-athletes/prominent individuals, or from athletes like the Miami Dolphins’ Don Jones. Also, this type of “experiment” is apparently referred to as “psychology.”

  • It’s not all racist and homophobic doom and gloom in the basketball world. Chris Paul, brother of Cliff Paul and State Farm pitchman, showed the world why he’s the consummate point guard a week ago when he scored 32 points on 12-14 shooting, dished out 10 assists, and had two turnovers in 28 minutes of play. Paul became the first player in playoff history to accomplish the highly efficient feat and did so against the electrifying Russell Westbrook.

Clippers Thunder Bask_Holt.jpg

  • Speaking of Westbrook, in game two against the Clippers, Russ bounced back to get his third triple double of the playoffs: a 31-point, 10-rebound, 10-assist gem where six of his rebounds were offensive. For those keeping score at home, nine times in the playoffs this season we’ve seen Game Scores greater than 30. In the aforementioned Paul game, his was 31.4 and Westbrook’s game-two score was 30.2. (For those of you still expanding your basketball knowledge [such as myself], Game Score was created by former ESPN stat head and current Memphis Grizzlies GM John Hollinger. The complex formula that can be found here. Basketball-Reference tells us 10 is about average while 40 is pretty damn amazing.)

 

 

  • Nothing much else happened this weekend except the return of Roy Hibbert (19ppg, 7rpg, 2bpg and overall great defense in three straight Pacer wins) and the Thunder blowing a 16-point fourth quarter lead to those Chris Paul-led Clippers. Oh, and San Antonio is up three games to none over the Blazers with an average margin of victory over 18-points per game. By this time next week, the Blazers will have likely conducted exit interviews.

Happy days are … here again?

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