At Last, The NBA Season Is Set To Begin
11:44 AM EST on February 23, 2023
It's the beginning of the almost regular season for the NBA, except of course in Charlotte, Detroit, Houston and San Antonio, in which the season doesn't happen until May 16, at the International Festival of Wembanyama. In the ideal situation, Charlotte doesn't win the lottery and decides to trade down to get enough 2024 pieces to take Bronny James—just to see how much of a sense of humor Michael Jordan really has.
But the other 26 teams either have something to play for or have won too much to be truly tanking, and it's time to figure out who you should want to win the championship because it sure as hell isn't going to be the team you support. You don't live that well, nor should you.
And besides, you probably wouldn't want your team to win, have a parade, and consume adult beverages where your children can see, or would be able to see if they weren't skipping school and giving some vagrant in front of a convenience store twenty bucks to buy them booze. Kansas City is still traumatized by seeing the Chiefs as inebriates, except for the 99.79 percent who would take a drunken parade every year if it were offered, even if it meant seeing Andy Reid stripped to the shorts shotgunning Pappy Van Winkle out of a policeman's boot.
But we digress. The NBA.
Adam Silver is about to get the organic version of his properly maligned midseason tournament, and it's called the Western Conference. It's a grease fire from fourth to 12th, or even 13th if you want to include the newly mutated Lakers, whom nobody wants to see just out of LeBron fatigue. Moreover, of those top 12 teams, only three have ever won a title, and one of them, Sacramento, won its only one while Harry Truman was still President. Historically, then, the bleak have inherited the earth, so you can take any one of them and feel good about being on a two-door bandwagon with limited trunk space.
The East is demonstrably less eye-searing, even though the bad vibes start at five (Brooklyn) and stay that way. If you're a frontrunner you can have the Celtics or Bucks, because they both are admittedly more fun than, say, the Nets, Knicks, Heat, Hawks or a collapsed roof. You can have the Sixers because they have had one Finals appearance since 1983, and you can have the Cavs because they quietly fascinating while never actually looking truly dangerous.
But whomever you choose to back will not provide an easy ride, which brings us to the real goal of the regular season that starts in mid-April, and that is 109 games. That is the maximum number of games we can potentially enjoy, between the 15 seven-gamers and the four play-in wastes, and in a year in which nobody looks very juggernaughty, the least Silver can do after the All-Star Game is give us all the real stuff he has in his storehouse. Nobody deserves to win in a sweep, although plenty deserve to be swept, so if you as the customer is owed fair compensation, it will have to be in bulk. Regard every game not played as an unclaimed puppy, every series that ends in five games a cheap come-on, and any game that doesn't have at least one spectacular replay cock-up an outright cheat. It's the Costco Pledge Of Herniated Satisfaction: Quality Schmality, Have A Lot Instead.
And then we can all hunker down for the thing we all really want to see: draft night. Like, say, Wemby going to the Pistons to play alongside James Wiseman in a twin towered yin-and-yang extravaganza, or Gregg Popovich trying to draft both of the Thompson brothers without anyone noticing, or to see who dares take Brandon Miller after the horrors of the past week. As always, the best thing about the NBA is Not The Games. The next best thing is all the games. Everything in the middle is meh cordon bleu.
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