Can nice guys finish first?

The Los Angeles Lakers basketball club were widely expected to sweep the New Orleans this month, on their way to a possible third consecutive NBA championship, but on Sunday were torched by the smallest player on the court, Chris Paul. Lakers' fans focused blame on the Laker's big man Pau Gasol, who put up aContinue reading “Can nice guys finish first?”

A ref for the ages: Dick Bavetta refuses to retire

Basketball is as difficult a game to referee as any, it's widely agreed, which is why refs able to take the pressure get paid the big bucks in the National Basketball Association. If they're respected they can work for years, far longer than players or even most coaches. This makes them in a sense theContinue reading “A ref for the ages: Dick Bavetta refuses to retire”

NBA: Five weeks away

Mark Heisler has held down the NBA beat for The Los Angeles Times for the last quarter-century or so. SoCal is lucky to have him; he's as spiky and surprising as ever, with no sign of weariness. Heisler's also ahead of his time, stylistically. He's been mixing commentary into his league updates, which Times reportersContinue reading “NBA: Five weeks away”

Shocker! NBA Drops Unenforceable Rule On Traveling

During the new season beginning today, National Basketball Association refs will now allow players two steps after "the gather" before they must shoot, pass, or be charged with a violation. This has been the unofficial practice for approximately ever. Lakers coach Phil Jackson had a typically acerbic response to the change: "Well, I guess ifContinue reading “Shocker! NBA Drops Unenforceable Rule On Traveling”

George Orwell Pooh-Poohs the NBA Finals

Well, not exactly, but if he were here today, Orwell would no doubt mock it as part of "the lunatic modern habit…of seeing everything in terms of competitive prestige." Here, from a memorable essay called "The Sporting Spirit," in a newspaper column from December 14, 1945, Orwell speaks (taken from George Packer's great Facing UnpleasantContinue reading “George Orwell Pooh-Poohs the NBA Finals”

But Can Jesus Dunk?

Very Important News: the Lakers will be going, for the second year in a row, to the NBA Finals. This year they will win it all, mostly because of #24. As Denver coach George Karl put it, reported by snarky Los Angeles Times columnist TJ Simers: "I think Jesus would have had trouble covering" KobeContinue reading “But Can Jesus Dunk?”

The Deep Spirituality of Basketball

It's the weekend; lightness is in order. Here's a spectacular lede to what is essentially a review of a book published by a website, the brainy and pretentious Free Darko. Frankly, the review is better than the product. A lot better. Happens sometimes, especially on the web. Here's Sam Anderson, for New York magazine. IContinue reading “The Deep Spirituality of Basketball”

Celtics Get Off the Mat, Win Round One

Pierce sustains a strained knee; Perkins a strained ankle. But despite hearing "a pop" in his knee, Pierce overcomes the pain, comes out of the locker room. gets back into the game. Hits a couple of big shots, and the Celts pull out tgame one in Boston. Lakers rattle out a dozen shots, lose byContinue reading “Celtics Get Off the Mat, Win Round One”

Fakes Right, Goes Left: Obama’s Favorite Move

Barack Obama became obsessed with basketball at one point in his life, not as a high schooler, surprisingly, but in law school. You can see that love and skill in action if you watch the Bryant Gumbel special below on his game. In the segment, for the first time on television since he was aContinue reading “Fakes Right, Goes Left: Obama’s Favorite Move”

The Massive Courage of Sam I Am

From The Boston-Herald, a story about Sam Cassell as a Celtic:  The Celtics still aren’t quite sure what to make of Sam Cassell. ‘Oh, Sam’s crazy,’ coach Doc Rivers said. ‘No,’ Paul Pierce said through a wide smile, ‘he’s only borderline crazy.’ Watching the 38-year-old point guard strut and gesture — and score 15 ofContinue reading “The Massive Courage of Sam I Am”