I woke up this morning to a text from my girlfriend, a diehard Knicks fan (eh, I know), saying the NBA lockout was over. Worddd. I like football as much as the next American, but in terms of my complete grasp of all the nuances of the game, basketball is really the only American sport that I can fully embrace.
I had ulterior reasons for wanting the lockout to end, however. As a Celtics fan, I’m as aware as anyone in Boston of our dwindling title window. Which brings me to my first reason:
1) The Celtics may, just may, be competitive for a title this year
It’s a long shot, considering last year the aim of the front office seemed to be putting the best historical lineup out on the floor – twenty years from now, we’ll be looking back and saying “KG, Shaq, AND Jermaine O’Neal in the frontcourt? How did they not crush Miami, which started a center who averaged 2 points a game HIS WHOLE CAREER and a power forward whose name was synonymous with being soft as puppy shit?? Oh yeah, their combined age was in the triple digits.”
Still, there’s reason to be hopeful. Pierce and Allen are, on their nights, still among the best players in the league at their positions. Garnett will still be a defensive beast 50 years from now in his nursing home pickup games. So as long as Rondo spent the lockout shooting jumpers in his driveway, and assuming that after 16 years in the NBA KG suddenly realized that he can and should be a premier crunch-time offensive player, we’re golden. Wait, why I am I being optimistic again?
2) The Thunder and maybe Grizzlies look like contenders out West
I realize that rooting against Kobe and LeBron is about as cool and original as a Rick Reilly column. Still, I can’t help but dislike them, Kobe in particular. Something about the most vapid, preening player in the league playing in the most vapid, preening city in the country just irks me.
That’s why I’m pumped that the Thunder look so potent heading into the shortened season. With a slimmed-down Rick Ross added to the starting lineup, the Thunder could be clear favorites in the West, or even the league, by midseason. And if the Celtics end up out of the running come May and June, I’ll forgive Oklahoma City for duping Boston out of its starting center and root for them to upend L.A. and Miami.
The Grizzlies could also be sneaky contenders – I’d rate them about as likely to make the Finals as the Mavs, Lakers and Spurs (OK, fine, I know all those teams are probably still better). Throw Rudy Gay into a Memphis lineup that already features the best offensive power forward in the game, a top-five center, and a defensively tenacious backcourt, and you’re looking at one of the hardest teams to beat out West. I don’t mind the Grizzlies at all – they’ve got my favorite Gasol and Namesake Randolph. Go Memphis.
3) I’m moving four blocks away from the new Nets arena
OK, this one’s not that great. The Nets still suck, and they’re not moving there until next September, at which point I might be somewhere else. Also, I won’t have any money to go to their games since my disposable organs will all be long gone to pay for rent.
Whatever. There’s roughly a 10 percent chance I’ll see Deron Williams in the flesh, and about a 150 percent likelihood l’ll see Kris Humphries hitting on rich chicks in the neighborhood bars.