Common Sense Sports
The Night the NBA Returned…Kind of
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, cats and dogs of all breeds—the NBA is back, y’all.
Seriously—look up the highlights and box scores from Tuesday night. They’ll indicate that the Chicago Derrick Roses Bulls and Miami Heat played a game on Tuesday night, during which we saw the Bulls’ go-to scorer Carlos Boozer go off (31 points—THIRTY-ONE), the new and improved Miami offense repeatedly go through Chris Bosh (the dinosaur is BACK), and the fully-healed Derrick Rose turn in a fairly underwhelming, unexciting return to glory.
Okay, so maybe the NBA isn’t quite back. Maybe the Chicago-Miami game Tuesday night that had all the makings of an early-early season classic played more like a pick-up game between the flashy, incredibly talented guys who could each dominate the game on their own and the group of old, rugged friends that hadn’t played a competitive game together in over 18 months.
But you know what? It’s OK.
Yeah, yeah—I can hear the other approximately three or seven people that also watched opening night:
“Derrick Rose is just throwin’ bricks up when he drives the lane.”
“Is Dwyane Wade seriously limping already?”
“Dude, I could play better than Mike Dunleavy Jr. right now and I haven’t picked up a basketball since middle school.”
I get all that. I really do. But by now, we all should know how this works. NBA players are still in preseason mode. Most of them are still cold or just starting to warm up when it comes to shooting (the Bulls shot—gulp—42.2 percent as a team on Tuesday, the Miami Repeaters shot just over 50 percent after starting ice cold).
New faces in new places—or, in Chicago’s case, Derrick Roses with new knee ligaments—are getting (re)acclimated to their teammates’ playing styles.
Coaches not named Vinny Del Negro are testing out revamped strategies developed during the off-season to see if they’ll actually work in-game. In essence, everyone’s learning to break a sweat again.
When the NBA really comes back—when the guys that played their hearts out in April, May, and June find their groove again—it’ll be clear as the reflection on LeBron’s bald head when he shaves it after Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals this coming May (listen to me now, trust me later). And believe this: It’s going be here sooner than you think.
In a season when the Heat look to be the most vulnerable they’ve been since pre-LeBron, the championship field is wide open.
Fans in Indiana, Miami, Chicago, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City all think their teams have a chance to win it all—and understandably so.
Fans in Oakland (Curry!), L.A. (Clippers fans, of course!), Brooklyn (Pierce and Garnett…’nuff said), Houston (hoping Howard and Harden gel), and even New York (albeit cynically) all think their teams could at least make the Conference Finals—and they’re totally rational in thinking so.
Honestly, the fact that Shane Battier is already doing Shane Battier things (shooting lots of threes, making a few of them, flopping incessantly, etc.) and Ray Allen is already living in the corner making threes is reason enough to believe that we’re actually ahead of schedule when it comes to the 2013-14 NBA season.
When the likes of Curry and Boogie and Wall and Paul and Durant and Bryant (he’ll be back—he made a stop in Germany this summer) start to heat up, this über-competitive season is going to catch fire, and I can’t wait to be there the first night Steph Curry burns down the house.
So if you’re thinking that the NBA really isn’t back yet, you’re right, it’s not. Just know that once it does come back, and it’ll be sooner rather than later, you’ll want a courtside seat.