I’ve never been one for wearing gear on the court. I’m not a good enough basketball player. The NBA is a different story. If you’re a rotation player, you’ve secured an inalienable right to wear whatever you want. But unless it’s a brace, there’s really no point other than style. Take headbands, for instance. LeBron James wears one. So does Jason Terry – and his is slightly off center (someone should really tell him). Neither of them have enough hair to warrant their apparel, but they definitely have enough swag (at least LeBron used to). There’s no doubt that donning the gear is an understandable sentiment – I consider myself a Nike ID guru. Unfortunately I can only break out my kicks in summer leagues or the fabled New York City street courts. But I hope, I dream. I envision myself hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy in my New York Knicks uniform. Wearing number 11, of course. And an orange sweatband below my left elbow. The moment would be just right, with all the miniscule pieces of my fantasy aligned just so.
But I digress. Even though my NBA career never materialized in the way that I imagined (fine, it never got started), I still hold on. It’s why I take enormous pride in the 3-1 record I compiled playing pick-up last week with fellow Dimers. I have to displace my passion, my anger and my limited stamina in other areas and take the victories where I can get them; like pick-up basketball, or when the train arrives directly after I walk into the subway station. Or my continuing odyssey to become the No. 1 FIFA 2011 player on Xbox Live in the United States – I’m currently at No. 277. (I’m Pyrrhus1289 if you dare to challenge me.) Or when the sandwich artist (that has to be a top 10 job title, right?) at Subway places just the right amount of buffalo sauce on my sub.
That’s why I loved this past NBA season. The big storylines were intriguing, frustrating, vindicating and palpable. Every time questions found an answer, four more questions would emerge. It was like I had been sucked into “Lost” all over again. But every NBA season has its headline drama that propels the season forward. 2010-2011 had something more. And it wasn’t the Miami Heat or Derrick Rose, but tiny splices of moments – small victories. It had just the right amount of buffalo sauce. So when I looked back on the season on the train this morning, I combed through my mental library that archived these snapshots. Here are a few of them that stuck out the most…
Frank Vogel – The world is better now that Vogel will most likely take the Pacers gig on a non-interim basis. Under his regime, Jeff Foster and Josh McRoberts patrolled the paint Kevin McHale-style, i.e. with no regard for human life whatsoever. No mercy, no easy buckets. There weren’t any intricate coaching schemes, mixing and matching of lineups, or brilliant maneuvers. It was play basketball, be physical. We often hear coaches preach that players need to play every possession, but the Pacers were the only team that actually lived up to the mantra.
The Kim Kardashian Effect – If you’re a professional athlete and you’re looking to improve your game, date Kim Kardashian. Just don’t break up with her, because she’ll break your heart and cause your career to go south. Just take a look at the history:
1. Reggie Bush – The New Orleans Saints’ running back dated the reality TV star from 2007-2010 when he somewhat ripped off the “bust” label stapled to his forehead, and earned the Super Bowl Ring he picked up in February of 2010. But then they split, and Bush cemented his heartbreak with a broken leg in Week 3 of the following season, followed by having to return his Heisman Trophy and USC disowning him.
2. Miles Austin – The Dallas Cowboys’ wide receiver hopped aboard the Kardashian train during the summer of 2010 and the first two weeks of the following season. Those first two weeks got him off to a hot start, as he racked up an impressive 20 catches for 188 yards and a TD. But then they broke up, and Austin tumbled, recording seven two-catch games in the following 15 weeks.
3. Kris Humphries – He’s really got it going on. Dating Kim Kardashian, averaging a double-double for the season, and looking at a healthy next contract. If he and Kardashian split, expect Dwight Howard to sign with the Nets, Humphries’ minutes to get slashed in half and Lamar Odom to unintentionally tear his ACL in an alarming yet sadistically satisfying twist of irony.