It is customary to preview the NBA season around that season’s beginning, with most opting to do it before it starts and other, braver sorts preferring to do so shortly after. There are some obvious and easily justified reasons for this, and the beginning of the NBA season really is pretty exciting—fans get to find out which team Ersan Ilyasova is on now, watch some games that count in the standings, and mentally plug in John Tesh’s “Roundball Rock” as the bumper music at every commercial break. And then they are free to make the decision, on their own terms and per their own schedule, to grab a little basketball nap until the season’s unofficial, second opening day on Christmas.
For now, though, we’re all still here together, discovering that Jonas Valanciunas is apparently on the Pelicans and sharing in the excitement of NBA games for as long as we choose to sustain it before picking things back up once the weather gets cold. This week, Drew and I invited our lanky Defector comrade Patrick Redford onto the podcast to talk about the NBA season and, for longer than I think any of us expected, his work experience in the goat-herding business. There’s some Sacramento Kings stuff in there, too, but you probably knew to expect that.
As exciting as it is to be able to watch real NBA games, or at least watch real psychotic NBA fans overreact to them, it feels hilariously, uselessly early to try to predict or project much about how any or all of this might go. It is safe to say that Giannis will do some cool stuff and the Lakers will Have Some Things To Figure Out, but these are things everyone knew weeks before the games started. The rest, both at this specific juncture and after a season in which the damn Phoenix Suns made the NBA Finals, feels like trying to do a detailed scouting report on a toddler. There is so much that still has to happen, and so many strange contingencies—Kyrie Irving’s vaccination status may legitimately be the decisive factor in which team wins the championship this year—that it all just feels impossible to know.
It is not, however, impossible to talk about. It is very easy to talk about, actually, as the first half of the episode demonstrates. We diagrammed a Shams Charania tweet to the extent such a thing was possible, and learned a lot in the process about how thrilling em-dashes can be. I felt like there was room for more Marvin Bagley III chat, but anyone who feels cheated on that front should know that every night Patrick dials five Americans at random and shouts at them about the Kings for 15 minutes; you may yet get your chance!
And then it was into The Dumb Stuff, which in this case involved a celebration of Cuttino Mobley’s legacy and the bygone era of scuzzy college basketball coaches that most scholars refer to as the Harrick Renaissance. Ed Orgeron’s tragicomic horniness was also considered. From the Funbag, we were treated to questions about bad habits, background television, and proper shower-entry technique. My responses to these wound up including a story about me being told not to bite my nails on the subway and a recommendation of USA’s entire product line of zippy Obama-era entertainment, and for all that I am sorry. Let’s circle back around Christmas and see how much improvement I’ve made by then.
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