DA's Morning Tip
David Aldridge spreads holiday cheer around NBA
Nevertheless, they persisted.
Christmas 2017 sees an NBA that hasn’t had as good a year as the past 12 months in a long time. While the NFL suffered from a series of week to week crises — many, though not all, self-inflicted — and while the country was roiled by seemingly endless strife, pro basketball kept rolling sevens, for which the league and its players earned most, though not all, of the credit.
It has been a long time since the NBA knew such good fortune. A long time. The recent history of the league was highlighted much more by what was going wrong than going right. But last year, the focus was on the floor, with the NBA and the Players’ Association quickly coming to agreement on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement at the end of 2016. Russell Westbrook and James Harden put on an historic MVP race.
And as in the early 90s with Michael Jordan, the league’s best player, LeBron James, was, seemingly, even better in his early 30s than ever — and basically impregnable off of it. Even Donald Trump, who never has met a foe he doesn’t try to crush on Twitter, stayed silent in September after James called him a “bum” online for criticizing the Warriors’ decision not to go to the White House.
Franchises long dormant in some of the NBA’s biggest cities — the Knicks, the 76ers, the Lakers — showed signs of revival in 2017. New York retooled around Kristaps Porzingis after firing Phil Jackson as team president and trading former face of the franchise Carmelo Anthony. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have historic potential in Philadelphia at their respective positions. And the Lakers’ impact rookie hasn’t been second overall pick and super-hyped Lonzo Ball, but unheralded Kyle Kuzma from Utah. (Today marks the first time since 2001 that all three teams are playing on Christmas Day.)
The Warriors remain the gold standard, full of telegenic superstars. They have changed the pro game forever: hunting 3s and layups, stretching defenses to the breaking point, creating driving lanes through which you could drive trucks, switching on everything on defense. They make it look so easy, everyone thinks they can duplicate it. To this point, no one else has done so over a full season and playoffs.
The Warriors and Cavaliers have made early June appointment TV the last three years, providing real drama for the highest stakes. Both teams play the game the right way, moving the ball, and getting great performances from their marquee players. So many people say it’s boring to know who’ll be in the Finals; the ratings say otherwise.
So, today, as the Dubs and Cavs highlight another Christmas schedule on ESPN, ABC and TNT, Merry Christmas to all the players, coaches, broadcasters, writers, support staff and anyone else who has to be away from their homes to provide us with the day-long slate of marquee games.
Most of all, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you, who read this column every week, and who support it — whether you agree or disagree with anything in it. I don’t expect anyone to agree with me all the time, and that would be boring, wouldn’t it? It takes a long time to write 8,000-10,000 words every week, 48 weeks a year, but I continue to hope that it’s worth it, that this is a comprehensive look at the week that was in the NBA, and a preview of what’s to come. Anyone who loves the orange leather has a seat at our table; basketball is a community and culture, one that we all share.
And Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, as well, to:
- The Commish and “Mean” Mark Tatum.
- Michele Roberts, Gary Kohlman, Chrysa Chin, Purvis Short, Ron Klempner and everyone at the Players’ Association.
- Bass, Frank, Coyle, Broussard.
- Gordon Hayward, Pat Beverley, Blake Griffin, Paul Millsap, Mike Conley, Jr., Zach LaVine, Nic Vucevic, Markelle Fultz, Rudy Gobert, Steve Clifford. Get better soon, gents. We miss you.
- Stevens, Carlisle, Popovich, Spoelstra, Kerr, D’Antoni, Casey, Snyder, Malone, Stotts.
- Anyone who sings their own national anthem.
- Okaro White, Derrick Rose, JaMychal Green, Jaylen Brown, Tarik Black, Vander Blue.
- DeAndre’ Bembry, DeMarre Carroll, DeMarcus Cousins, DeMar DeRozan, De’Aaron Fox, DeAndre Liggins, D’Angelo Russell.
- A.A. Ron. RodGers.
Dwyane Bacon, Allen Crabbe, Seth Curry, Jeremy Lamb.
- Matthew Dellavedova, Marc Gasol, Luke Kennard, John Collins.
- OG Anunoby, D.J. Augustin, J.J. Berea, P.J. Dozier, A.J. Hammons, T.J. Leaf, CJ McCollum, T.J. McConnell, CJ Miles, JJ Redick, JR Smith, PJ Tucker, TJ Warren, CJ Wilcox, C.J. Williams, D.J. Wilson.
- Amir Johnson, Bryce Johnson, Dakari Johnson, James Johnson, Joe Johnson, Stanley Johnson, Tyler Johnson, Wesley Johnson.
- Red Panda and Marshawn Lynch, forever.
- Mike Callahan, Tony Brothers, Scott Foster, Ken Mauer, Derrick Stafford, Tom Washington, Zach Zarba, Bill Spooner, Bill Kennedy.
- Malik Monk, Ed Davis, Tony Parker, Jayson Tatum, Damian Jones, Wayne Ellington, Jrue Holiday, Rashad Vaughn.
- John Wall, Paul George, George Hill, Richard (Ringo) Jefferson.
- Devin Booker, Jae Crowder, Stephen Curry, Ed Davis, Jerami Grant, Tim Hardaway, Jr., Al Horford, Kevin Love, Wesley Matthews, James Michael McAdoo, Larry Nance, Jr., Jabari Parker, Austin Rivers, Glenn Robinson III, Domantas Sabonis, Garrett Temple, Klay Thompson, Damien Wilkins.
- All the ushers in all the arenas, 99.999 percent of whom have been nothing but kind and patient and understanding over the years while working long hours, oftentimes on their feet all night and well into the next morning.
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Ian Clark, Jared Dudley, Isaiah Hicks, Gorgui Dieng, DeAndre Jordan, Goran Dragic, Tim Frazier, Langston Galloway, Ivan Rabb, Yogi Ferrell, Steven Adams, James Harden, Milton Doyle, Ryan Arcidiacano, Nicolas Brussino, Jonathan Simmons, Omri Casspi, Tyler Lydon, Tony Snell, Rudy Gay, Royce O’Neale, Norman Powell, Al Jefferson, Kyle Korver, Jusuf Nurkic, Abdel Nader, JaKarr Sampson, Furkan Korkmaz, Ron Baker.
- Marv, CWebb, Kevin, Reggie, BA, GHill, Kristen, 3D, Bones, Kamla, Winer, Casey, Bone, Sponge, Heitz, Big Daddy Kane, EJ, Jet, the Chuckster, Shaq, Kiely, Scooter, Tony, MD, Tara, Olivia, Leah and everyone behind the cameras and behind the scenes that makes Turner such a joyful place to work.
And blessings to Fatty Taylor, Steve (Snapper) Jones, Jess Kersey, Justin Reed, Connie Hawkins, Chyna Thomas, Jerry Krause, Kenny Sears, Fab Melo, Frank Deford, John Andariese, Tommy Hawkins, Frank Hamblen, Darall Imhoff, Dick Enberg, John Kundla, Dave Stallworth, Jack McCloskey, Charles Shackleford and Gene Conley. May God hold you and bless you, and provide comfort to your families.
* * *
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.