Saturday, November 3, 2012

4 comments "NBA Players are Too Nice to Each Other" Said the Only Writer in America Who Likes to See Brawls

Maybe the title of this post is taking Ira Winderman's point of view a bit too extreme, but Ira doesn't like that all these NBA players are friends. He wants to see some rivalries, some fisticuffs and a good old fashioned cockfight. I don't necessarily see how there can't be rivalries and still have the players be friends. The Lakers-Pistons rivalry in the late 1980's and very early 1990's was pretty intense despite the fact Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas got to first base with each other before the opening tip of an NBA Finals game. So a rivalry can still occur in a competitive fashion without each side hating each other. Still, it doesn't seem Winderman believes rivalries can exist without some sort of civil discord or lack of harmony between two team's players. Chris Paul is still mad at Pau Gasol for rubbing the top his head, so perhaps that pleases Ira Winderman.

Dwight Howard somehow now is friends with Stan Van Gundy

They are teaming up to help schools in Seminole County. Obviously helping out the Seminole County school system is much less important than maintaining a silly, immature player-coach rivalry when Van Gundy and Howard no longer have a player-coach relationship.

and hopes to eventually be remembered fondly in Orlando. 

What a wimp! How dare Howard care about his legacy. Dwight Howard needs to form a rivalry with the entire Orlando Magic fan base. Perhaps send anthrax by mail to each Magic season ticket holder in a desperate attempt to keep the rivalry between he and the fan base going. After all, the Magic and Lakers are going to play two times this season and most likely not meet in the NBA Finals. So continuing a rivalry between a lottery team and an NBA Finals contender is going to be crucial to the long-term health of the NBA.

Dear Entire City of Orlando,  

How does Dwight Howard's ass taste?

Ira Winderman

LeBron James returned to Cleveland last season saying he would not rule out perhaps one day again playing for the Cavaliers.

Considering LeBron James is from Akron and lived in Ohio for his entire life until he left to play for the Miami Heat, I can see how maintaining a good relationship with fans in his home state would be important to him.

"Screw that," says Ira Winderman. Winderman thinks LeBron James needs to further alienate fans in his home state. Perhaps LeBron can invite Dan Gilbert over for a nice seafood dinner, drink some wine together by candlelight and then never call him again. That'll learn the Cleveland area not to mess with LeBron James.

Ray Allen took out a full-page ad in Boston to remind Celtics fans how much he cherishes their time together.

I think Ira Winderman is confusing athletes showing some class towards cities in which they used to play with athletes having rivalries with each other. There is a difference. These three athletes are trying to be classy when leaving a city, but it doesn't mean there isn't a Cavs-Heat rivalry or a Celtics-Heat rivalry. I fail to see how civility from athletes is a bad thing. I don't want to say "we all" bemoaned the NBA era in the late 90's and early 2000's when the NBA players (fairly or unfairly) seemed disconnected from the fans, but I think we are living in an era of the NBA where the players realize it is a business and they generally treat fans with respect in order to further their own brand. I believe NBA fans as a whole appreciate this type of behavior and know the players are friends off the court, but rivals on the court. I don't see it as a bad thing.

Know what the NBA needs just about now? Something along the lines of bounty-gate.

Absolutely. That's what I was just thinking. What the NBA needs about right now is for one team to intentionally try to injury members of another team for money. What could go wrong? What fair-minded sportswriter wouldn't long for athletes to intentionally injure each other in order to spice up a rivalry?

Because leagues are at their best when rivalries are pure, lines are drawn, when you’re either with us or against us.

And apparently a rivalry can't be started without members of two teams intentionally hurting each other. Does Ira Winderman remember this year's NBA Finals? The talk between Serge Ibaka and LeBron James? How about the rivalry between the Lakers and Clippers that seems to be developing? Not to mention with Ray Allen playing for the Heat, the Celtics and Heat matchups probably won't be the most friendly of games this year.

Rivalries happen organically. Something along the lines of bounty-gate is probably the worst way to start a rivalry.

but at a time when Kevin Durant is working out alongside LeBron, it does tend to take the edge of what the NBA once was,

Part of the reason Kevin Durant was working out alongside LeBron James is because they both played for the 2012 Olympic team. I wonder if Ira Winderman has an issue with players joining the Olympic team and playing together?

"They can't be on the same Olympic team! They are supposed to hate each other!" 

It is true teams and players can still have rivalries on the court while being somewhat friendly off the court. Michael Jordan was friends with Magic Johnson off the court, but desperately wanted to beat him on the court. Rivalries can come from friendly competition and don't necessarily have to develop from one player on a certain team attempting to physically injure another player on another team.

During a recent community even in Boston, Celtics coach Doc Rivers urged a singular approach for the coming season for his players: “I bring up Miami every single day to them. I want them to hate them. I want them to beat them. That’s gotta be our focus.”

Gee, that sort of sounds like a rivalry developing, no? I guess this isn't enough for one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference to be focused solely on beating the reigning Eastern Conference champion. Ira Winderman demands more dislike. Where are the knives at? Where is the frustration and anger that only violence on the court can solve? What ever happened to players clothes-lining each other and punching each other in the face? Kermit Washington, wherefore art thou?

Instead, we’re getting Hornets players working out alongside Spurs players in San Antonio, open gyms around the NBA featuring visits by opposing players,

Opposing players are visiting gyms around the NBA? My God, what's next? Secret friendship handshakes? Friendship rings? Blood vows to never hurt each other's feelings? The NBA is going to hell because the players don't hate each other and this means there is no way they can compete against each other...even though NBA players have been friends prior to this year and there have still been rivalries.

including one just the other day from Derek Fisher at the Lakers’ facility.

Derek Fisher of the Oklahoma City Thunder went to the Lakers facility? That's crazy. It's not like Fisher ever played for the Lakers over an extended period of time or has any friends on the team.

Perhaps the best way to ensure there are rivalries in the NBA is to say that no NBA players can ever be free agents or be traded. That way these players don't develop friends on other teams and decide to go back and visit these friends. NBA players would be drafted by one team and then forced to play for that one team over their entire career in order to avoid making friends on opposing teams. The future of the NBA is at stake and outside of a good bounty scandal this is our only hope.

To a degree, this is a global community the NBA has forged, a shared bond of furthering the game, if not necessarily furthering rivalries.

Rivalries happen organically. It isn't something the NBA can cook up, throw together and watch happen, even as much as the NBA would probably be prone to do this. You can't make the Clippers and Lakers dislike each other, but a rivalry can develop if Pau Gasol insists on touching Chris Paul's head. See? Little shit like that starts a rivalry.

The Heat were fun last season because they were compelling. They might have been more fun the season before, when they were loathed.

In certain circles the Heat are still going to be very much hated. It's clear the Celtics are using the Heat as the measuring stick for this season, so the games between those two teams could be fun to watch.

You may not condone what Greg Schiano pulled this week against the Giants, but he made it clear this was not about winning friends.

On a similar note, what kind or rivalries did the bounty-scandal help start? Do the Saints have a new rivalry I am not aware of? At this point many fans don't like the Saints, but I wouldn't say the bounty scandal ignited a specific NFL rivalry between the Saints and another NFL team.

It was about competition, a line that sometimes gets blurred in today’s NBA.

It still is about competition and NBA players know how to compete while on the court but also not hate each other off the court. NBA players have come to know each other better because of the AAU circuit, but this doesn't mean the line of friendship or competition gets blurred. It simply means the players develop a relationship with each other prior to coming to the NBA, but it doesn't necessarily affect the competitive nature of the game.


HH said...

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are great friends off the court. Does that in any way undermine the Colts-Pats rivalry we witnessed 2002-2008?

Tom Brady has publicly hated the Jets for a while, and they him.

Turns out, there's no magic key to a rivalry.

Isaac said...

The only issue I have with player friendships comes in baseball when players are yuckin it up on the basepaths. Friends before and after the game are fine, but it'd be nice to see a little more focus during play.

Eric C said...

Ira probably loved The Running Man. THAT was a real sport.

Bengoodfella said...

HH, the NFL would be in much better shape if Brady and Manning hated each other. There is a magic key and that key is pure hatred.

So what if it doesn't mess up rivalries or seems like a stupid point to make, don't you like seeing fights.

Isaac, that doesn't bother me too much in baseball. It's a slower game and I know these guys know each other. I don't have a problem with players yukking it up as long as they will run over each other to win the game. I just don't want to see the competitive fire of each team go out because they are friends.

Eric, he probably has the Death Race collection on Blu-Ray or watches the first 10 minutes of "The Last Boy Scout" on repeat for hours on the weekend.