Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images
I’m sure you guys care an awful lot, but after weeks of deliberation I have decided that I am in fact going to watch the Super Bowl. It’s not merely that two of my four least favorite teams are playing, it’s just that over the past year, I’ve lost most of my love for any football game in which the Packers don’t play.
The NFL has become such a bloated procession of hypocrites and idiots that I sort of feel forced to stop watching. If you’re going to just troll the bejeezus out of me with continuing excessive idiocy, at some point, I have to stop proving you right about how much viewers will tolerate garbage being stuffed down their throat, you know?
I’ve always hated the announcers, but John Gruden constant referring to every player with a preceding “this” (“This Jason Pierre-Paul is really special” or “If you’re coaching Joe Flacco, you have to tell him to explain that facial hair”) has taken my rage to new levels.
The video replays are maddening; there is no more intellectually stultifying way to spend three minutes than staring at a referee’s butt while former professional idiots on the other side of the split screen spend four minutes going over a touchdown catch like a crime scene.
I hate how the football media so relentlessly drums up faux masculine outrage — I know we’re all “warriors” or whatever, but not even a literal bantam rooster would be so insecure as to care what fat Rex Ryan said about them for the 374th straight week.
Finally, the league’s hypocrisy over player health has become too much for me. They care so much about player safety that they want to add regular season games! And it’s not that football is systemically violent as a product, it’s just that a few angry dudes break rules at a faster rate than we can fine them! I will stick to basketball, thank you very much, where we are blessedly free of racially driven policy controversies and commissioner fans accuse of rigging the outcome of league events.
So basically, I’m watching because the people in my life already think I’m enough of a tendentious prick. I heard on the radio today that not only will Kelly Clarkson be singing the national anthem, but that something called a Blake Shelton will be singing “America the Beautiful” and I thought to myself “Thank God I won’t be watching.” And then the face of everybody I’ve known since high school appeared in my vision and said “Dude, it’s the Super Bowl. You really are always like this, aren’t you?”
So I will watch and hope that everybody on the field but Hakeem Nicks is killed in a fan riot over a forty minute replay review.
GAMES OF THE WEEK
Thunder 95, Mavericks 86
I enjoy the meme of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant not being able to coexist. I’m not the first person to point this out, but since getting his extension, Westbrook has once again established himself as the second-most explosive penetrating point guard, giving the Thunder a demon-charged wrecking ball, the most graceful and consistent perimeter scorer in the league, and a shooting guard who plays basketball like MF Doom, with a better command of internal rhyme and rhythm than any other player. But, hey, YOU GOTTA HAVE AN ALPHA DOG, right? There’s no way one of the five most efficient offenses in the league can keep working when everybody likes each other and they’re all super young, right?
Clippers 112, Thunder 100
I love this part of the season, because it’s when good teams start to play like good teams. Watching Chris Paul with good teammates is like watching those torture interrogators in spy movies; he just keeps pulling new and horrifying tricks out of his bag and being all “So you still won’t talk, eh? How about this pocket pass to Blake Griffin? No? What about this corner jumper from Caron Butler?” Eventually, all but the best defenses in the league leave the interrogation room missing their finger nails with their eyes swollen shut, having divulged the state secrets of pick-and-roll defense.
Heat 97, Bulls 93
Too many games between actual good teams this week to show love to hilarious crap ones. I have a confession: I have become an actual, honest-to-God Derrick Rose hater. Don’t get me wrong. I love watching him play. He’s phenomenal. But I’ve been so turned off by his army of internet fanboys that I LOVE watching him screw up occasionally. Even when you praise Rose, three hundred people are going to get in the comments section and all-caps you about your masculinity. It’s particularly charming when it happens in the same game as LeBron missing some free throws. It’s ALMOST as if fourth quarter play has nothing to do with your testosterone level, but can be the product of variance at a bad time. Nah. Derrick Rose has way bigger stones than LeBron. He’s way more of A WINNER ALPHA DOG.
Bonus YouTube video of Rose highlights whose comments devolve into hilarious irrelevant macho nonsense!
For our first response, I have to air a grievance.
Since I started putting our email address (mbnhoops[at]gmail[dot]com) on Twitter, we have become inundated with spam from GreenHitz rap company. I will never, ever listen to Top Dolla, Waho by the Hoti or Blazaham Lincoln, GreenHitz. I promise I won’t ever do it. It is so soul crushing to see a full inbox and be all “Readers!” and then be all “I HATE YOU, YUNG SLAPPY.”
GreenHitz spambot, when I am in control of the interbotz, you are first against the wall.
Reader Robert sent us in the Orlando Magic drinking game he and his housemates use. I’m sharing it in a public document here.
Now, the idea is a beautiful thing. I’m not wild about all of the rules here, but look at the document, readers, and email us your suggestions. At some time in the future, we here at MBN will follow these rules and post the results online somewhere in some fashion — a sort of live-drinking thing that might involve Twitter or something like that. We want your feedback.
“Why do the Magic keep forcing the ball to Dwight Howard in the post? During this latest deluge of losses, the 4-out-1-in set has been downright unwatchable. I would say a dozen plays per game (complete guess) end with Howard taking a rushed shot or getting stripped and then throwing his arms up in the air and yelling “c’mon man!” to the referee. Often, this is because the Magic toss/dribble the ball around the perimeter without any sense of purpose for the first 15 seconds of the shot clock.
Is this an unintended consequence of Howard calling out his teammates for caring about their own point totals too much — now they force the ball to him to avoid conflict even if it crushes the flow of the offense? It’s like when you make drinks for some friends to encourage conversation and someone tells you to make the next one stronger, so you over-correct and 30 minutes later they end up cornering you to talk about their supercool new job at a mineral rights law firm and their love/hate relationship with McDonald’s breakfast and how Rick Perry I mean Katy Perry is everything that’s wrong with pop music. Yeah, that’s exactly what it’s like for the Magic right now. Exactly.”
Brian, I think that you have correctly identified a problem but misidentified the cause. Forcing the ball into Dwight is really the only answer to this offense; you need to be drawing doubles to kick the ball out to shooters, and for the most part, Dwight has responded (although you’re correct that it hasn’t looked as good as it does when he’s fully engaged).
I think the bigger problem is, as you hint, perimeter indecisiveness. Bad shots happen because the offense is not acting quickly or with confidence; it gives time for defenses to recover, and Hedo is happy to shoot a fadeaway in the left corner off the dribble. Bad times all around, but it’s still (mostly) not Dwight’s fault. Posting him remains one of the best offensive propositions in the league.
Reader Carlo Simone:
I apologize that this week I’m going to get preachy and philosophical. This past Saturday, we lost my father-in-law to cancer. This tragic event coincided with the Orlando Magic’s descent into despair and I learned a valuable lesson. Sports have the tendency to mirror life but they are not the totality of life. While my favorite team seems to be evaporating before my eyes it doesn’t come close to the loss of a human that touched so many. Thus it seems that we should keep that perspective when thinking about what the next steps for the team should be. Remember that losing a player isn’t the end of a franchise. We can, and have before risen from the ashes. So in this dark time, keep faith Orlando Magic fans. We will reign again in the NBA. And if we don’t, we have each other and a love of basketball to see us through.
Carlo, we’re honored you’re connected enough to MBN to share this thoughtful observation. Our thoughts are with you and your family. I’m sure I speak for all of us when I say that the next time I’m moved to punt my cat across the room because of the Magic, I will think of you being a much stronger and rational person, and I will be pleased to have you in our community. Again, I wish you and your family the best in these times.
That’s it for this week, y’all. Thanks again for the emails — we love connecting with our community. Please, drop us suggestions for the drinking games, questions about the Magic or ANYTHING ELSE IN THE WORLD at mbnhoops[at]gmail[dot]com. Peace!
Danny Nowell is a contributing writer for Magic Basketball. Follow him on Twitter.