I know we’re not really feeling the effects of the NBA Lockout yet. Were the Lockout—as it manifests itself in my fever dreams—a be-fanged lungfish the size of skyscraper, which speaks only in the wails of immolating children, most of us would now only be nervously tittering in the front of the evening news, as Lungfish Lockout Monster ravages a metropolitan area some 600 miles away. (Brian Williams, in this scenario, continues to remain unflappable and charming). Free agency and Summer League are fun and all, but as the playoffs remind us each year, we like the NBA primarily because we like to watch ten players at a time play basketball at its pinnacle.
But Lungfish Lockout Monster looms. He’s in the Nevada desert now, popping the roof off of Treasure Island, and consuming its residents as if they were fleshy Pez. In your nightmares, you are awakened by the smell of his breath, and his breath smells like your family being digested. He may be hundreds of miles away, but he will surely drink the blood of your child, and worse, just before slicing your daughter open like a juicebox he will whisper softly in her ear I spoke with that cute boy in your biology class. He thinks your haircut is stupid.
How can you avoid such a tragic end? You must prepare! So here is, like, some stuff you can do when the Lockout runs into the NBA season. (Just for the sake of avoiding anyone taking legal action against me, these things probably will not help if a monster pulled from a particularly terrifying narcotics binge becomes flesh and rampages across the United States. If that happens, my only suggestion is to buy a harpoon gun and go down swinging.)
Suggestion No. 1: Read a Book.
I’m a big advocate of the works of Robert Musil, particularly The Man Without Qualities. And this thing’s probably gonna take awhile, so if you’ve ever wanted to read an incomplete, 1824-page novel that is ostensibly about pre-WWI Austria, but is also about art and beauty and the horrific effects of inaction, now is as good a time as any.
But maybe you’re not one of the eight people on the planet to whom that sounds appealing. No worries: there are a lot of terrific basketball books, and John composed a pretty comprehensive list of them a couple of years ago. I’m not terribly well-read when it comes to sports books, but I’m taking it upon myself to select a few tomes from John’s list over the coming months, if only for educational purposes. I do find, from what I have read, that reading well-written non-fiction on the NBA, especially about bygone eras, has enhanced my appreciation of the league; I would imagine leafing through Breaks of the Game or Pistol has done the same for others.
On top of that, there are always back issues of Sports Illustrated (which had some exceptional NBA-related stuff in the 70s and 80s) if you can find them. And FreeDarko’s still up. The guys over there were so thorough that it might take you two NBA seasons to sift through their archives.
Suggestion No. 2: Youtube
Have you guys realized there is tons of old NBA footage on there? If you missed the Bird and Magic Era or any of the Jordan Years, a lot of it is available on Youtube if you’re willing to dig for it. Plus, there are old dunk contests, awkward press conferences, and Mark Madsen yelling stuff in Spanish. Well done, Internet.
Suggestion No. 3: Buy Lungfish Repellent
Won’t work. It’s like a marinade to them. And that lungfish thing was a metaphor, so I don’t know why we’re still talking about this.
Suggestion No. 4: There’s Always College Ball
Unless Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson are the next coming of Kevin Johnson and Charles Barkley, the Cavaliers will still be pretty lousy this season. Or at least I hope they will be (Harrison Barnes!). Next year’s draft class is supposed to be loaded with talent. Those two factors mean a.) the NCAA might not be completely painful to watch this year and b.) you can rationalize watching a bunch of 18 year-olds spend half the game dribbling the ball 26 feet away from the basket as “scouting.” I might buy a clipboard and occasionally scribble things like “No. 18 for Kentucky’s got a cool haircut” during games while wondering how many households I would have to rob in order to accumulate the $300 million it’s going to take to get the NBA up-and-running again.
Suggestion No. 5: Rob Enough Households to Accumulate the $300 Million It’s Going to Take to Get the NBA Up-and-Running Again
I mean, if we all pooled our collective resources… Actually, we probably shouldn’t talk about this on a public forum. Hit up my Gmail.
Suggestion No. 6: Argue
One luxury the shutdown of the NBA affords us is that we don’t need to sift through free agency rumors or watch the Summer League and wonder how Kyrie Irving’s assist rate against scrubs and rookies will translate against NBA starters. We’re untethered to the minutiae of the offseason which, while sorta fun, isn’t substantive or useful. During free agency, one doesn’t actually need to know their team is pursuing Dwight Howard. The only bit of news that has a shelf life of more than eight hours during the offseason is “Player X traded for Player Y and a first-rounder” or “Player Z signs with Toronto for $28 mil over 4 years,” and even then, we endlessly debate the merits of these transactions while, in a few months, that analysis will be rendered meaningless by actual basketball taking place.
So, not being required to worry about what the Cavs will do with Ramon Sessions is freeing. We can take a step back and assess the big picture or even the minute pictures of past seasons. Now would be the time to have that argument with a friend over the legitimacy of Steve Nash’s MVP trophies, is what I’m saying. Now would be the time to talk capital letter stuff: Race, Sexuality, Fame, Truth. Now would be the time for brainstorming and good ideas, since the AP newswire and Sportscenter aren’t feeding us narratives. I know we all have the tendency not to discuss topics that aren’t immediate, but—take heart, NBA Lover—there’s still so much to talk about.