The NBA is trying its best, guys, give them a break. Schedule releases are only a big deal in the NFL, where teams have to play their best players every week, save for a possible late-season rest. So even though Roger Goodell and his cronies show up every year with pictures of presents like a twisted Santa Claus, it doesn’t mean Adam Silver has to follow suit.
So, yes, the Christmas Day slate matters (as much as it can while sharing a bench with the NFL’s ever-expanding ass). Opening night also is important inasmuch as the Lakers’ season hasn’t licked the bottom of a sink full of moldy dishes yet.
And then there’s the conundrum of how to make the content relevant when said sink licking is happening. The league office is still mulling over potential prizes to put at the end of a midseason tournament/rainbow the players don’t care about finding, and there’s no solution on the horizon. (Cut to Silver, in a room full of hipster yes men, yelling, “I want 50 more ideas by Monday! And, Greg, if you suggest a billion dollars one more time, I’m going to send you to NBA Uzbekistan so you can scout camels and halal!”)
However, this season, the geniuses over Draper, Sterling, Cooper, and Foghorn Leghorn conjured up something called NBA Rivals Week. Stuck so far down the ESPN article that no one bothered to proof it, the story states:
The NBA has also created an “NBA Rivals Week” for the week of Jan. 23, with 11 nationally televised games featuring various rivalries across the league, including battles for New York and Los Angeles and a rematch of the 2019 NBA Finals between the Lakers and Toronto Raptors.
NBA Finals matchups ESPN wishes would’ve happened for 1,600 aside, there are 14 nationally televised games that week, but maybe they’re not counting games on NBA TV. Though if that’s the case, then it’s only nine games.
Whatever, I don’t have time for semantics right now. There are glorious rivalries to break down. Here’s the televised docket, per NBA.com.
- Hawks at Bulls (NBA TV)
- Grizzlies at Kings (NBA TV)
- Celtics at Heat (TNT)
- Clippers at Lakers (TNT)
- Nets at 76ers (ESPN)
- Grizzlies at Warriors (ESPN)
- Bulls at Hornets (TNT)
- Mavericks at Suns (TNT)
- Grizzlies at Timberwolves (NBA TV)
- Raptors at Warriors (NBA TV)
- Nuggets at 76ers (ABC)
- Knicks at Nets (ABC)
- Lakers at Celtics (ABC)
- Pelicans at Bucks (NBA TV)
OK, some of tho— The Grizzlies and Wolves met in th— yeah, but how about the Ball brothe— Sure, it’s jus— I kno— Please, can I say somethi— OH MY GOD! LAKERS-CELTICS IS ONE OF THE BEST RIVALRIES IN ALL OF SPORTS! STOP NITPICKING EVERYTHING I SAY!
Alright, rapid-fire because it’s all pretty obvious. The Knicks should be playing the Bulls, Heat, or Pacers. Raptors-Warriors means something to the like three guys left from that Toronto team. The history with most of these matchups is less than five years old. The battles for New York and LA have already been decided. Embiid vs. Jokic isn’t Russell vs. Wilt. What the fuck are the Pelicans and Kings doing on here? And has no one thought about load management’s potential effect on all of this?
The only thing that will make late January NBA basketball relevant — outside of people like me who turn on League Pass like it’s a nightlight — is if all the disgruntled stars enter a one-on-one tournament and the winner is guaranteed to be traded before the All-Star Break. That’s it. That’s the only way.
Can you imagine Kevin Durant and Donovan Mitchell hooping for the right to get the hell out of Brooklyn and Salt Lake City respectively? Hell, the NBA could just make the award “GM for a day,“ so the player could remedy whatever is ailing him. LeBron James would walk opponents down to the block for three straight weeks in order to jettison Russell Westbrook.
The other option to create rivalries is to do what baseball does and have divisional opponents play each other so much that they want to whip fastballs at each other’s domes. We know what creates bad blood, but only white sports get to fight free of judgment.
Teams play 82 games a piece. The regular season runs from Oct. 18 to April 9. That’s almost six months of games. Some of them will be great, and some will be so bad that the Inside the NBA crew dumps on them before they even tip. It’s fine. Not everything can be, or needs to be, fixed.
I understand the bottom line gods need an offering. Just feed them some contrived bullshit instead.