For years now, the NBA's balance of power -- East to West and vice versa -- has drawn all sorts of inexplicable and undue attention. As if it's wrong for things to tilt one way or the other in sports as opposed to, y'know, our daily lives and relationships....[clever examples of one-sided relationships in life, like "pizza-dieter"]...Yet with the NBA, we pull out micrometers and slide rules every year to gauge the gap at any given moment between the [two conferences]. It offends, I dunno, our sense of fair play if too many good teams seem to be stacked up on one side of the league compared to the other.
Actually, it's probably a legitimate piss-off to Golden State fans when their 48-34 (20-10 against the East) team has to sit out from May until the following February (Playoffs-are-long joke! So fresh!) while the Atlanta Hawks (37-45, 13-17 against the West) get to take part. (***See below!***)
Let's sift through the evidence:
• Exhibit A: Elton Brand agrees to a five-year, $80 million contract with the 76ers. [He gives a long explanation.]
Exhibit B: Jermaine O'Neal goes to Toronto, while T.J. Ford gets swapped to Indiana. On paper, this seems like a wash for the East. Not if both teams end up stronger than they were...
Less of a sure thing than Brand, but okay.
Exhibit C: Washington re-signs Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison.
Nope. Those players are staying on the same team, and have been there for multiple seasons. Does not count. He also weirdly includes this in the explanation:
If losing three consecutive first-round series to Cleveland doesn't qualify under the NBA tradition of knocking at the door of contender status, nothing does. Except maybe for the fact that the Cavaliers keep getting through that door first.
Exhibit D: Cleveland general manager Danny Ferry is pursuing his master's degree in capology...[Cavs need to win now and build for future to entice The Bron to stay]...So it is no accident that the Cavs' roster has more than $27 million in expiring contracts for the coming season and only James' $15.8 million player option for 2009-10 on the books beyond that. One way or the other -- around James or without James -- Ferry will be building a new team. Urgency suggests it will add to the East's collective strength.
Does urgency suggest that? Why? This may be where my utter lack of understanding re: NBA crops up, but who's to say that Mr. Ferry will restock the team well just because it's urgent? Also, aren't expiring contracts usually sort-of-shitty players?
Exhibits E and F: Chicago nabs the No. 1 player in the draft, Miami takes No. 2.
Makes sense, but here's the first part of the explanation:
The murmur that went through the NBA in June 2007 -- when Greg Oden and Kevin Durant went 1-2 to Portland and Seattle, respectively, leaving everyone else with, well, everyone else -- didn't quite play out, with Oden hurt all season and Durant shooting and scoring for a lousy team in its lame-duck year.So, the East looks to be adding two big-impact rookies. But...the West is adding last year's big-impact draftee, plus should see improvement from a no-longer-lame-duck Formerly-the-Sonics team. Is it a wash? Last year also showed that sure-thing rookies aren't necessarily sure things. I'm, um, not convinced of anything right now.
Exhibits G and H: Shaquille O'Neal and Jason Kidd still are (yawn) in the West.
Yeah, they're still in the West. That hasn't changed the balance any from last year. Not hugely convincing.
Exhibits I and J: Orlando and Atlanta are about ready for their close-ups.
Sure, whatever. I guess you could counter that Portland and OKC both look like they're going to be pretty good, pretty soon. But sure.
Exhibit K and L: Larry Brown and Donnie Walsh have rolled up their sleeves again.
Sure, but we all know Brown'll bail in like six months. Whatever. Anyway, he gives himself credit for 12 bits of evidence. I'll give him six, and a C- overall. Which is roughly how well I think I handled this article. Passing grades all around!
***The CFL has a crossover rule, you know. And there's "free" health care here too!. Blah blah blah I'm going to masturbate with maple syrup.