As we prepare to celebrate the best holiday of the year (You heard me Christmas!), there’s no better time to look around the basketball world, and remember what we’re thankful for.
What’s not to love about Raff? Every game he calls takes on an extra level of excitement and he brings an unmatched level of enthusiasm to the telecast.
Ah, well maybe not unmatched. A certain ESPN employee may bring some enthusiasm to the game, but it’s not the same. Raftery is excited without being annoying. He’s energetic while still being knowledgeable. And perhaps most importantly, he’s complimentary without ever gushing.
Everyone has their favorite Raftery saying. Man-to-man. ONIONS. Lingerie on the deck. Send it in!
I’m thankful for all of them and ready for another season of Raff.
Let’s recap Dirk’s season.
1. He’s calmly averaging 18.8 points and 5 boards in only 27 minutes per night.
2. He gave us possibly the quote of the year. After Dirk took a pay cut, the Mavs used the saved money to sign Chandler Parsons. When asked later Nowitzki said, “I told him every dinner on the road this year is on him, because it’s my money anyway.”
3. He rapped and did some great white guy dancing in this video:
Someday Dirk will be gone. We should savor him while we’ve got him.
The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament
As college football undergoes all of its big changes, let’s take a second to thank the world for having March Madness decide college basketball’s champion. Forget the polling and the BCS, those aren’t even worth comparing to the Madness.
Look at the 4 team playoff. This season 3.125% of FBS college football teams will have a real chance to win the title. If the same were true of hoops, we’d have a 10-11 teams in a tournament. For round numbers sake, let’s make it 12. Here’s what last year’s tourney would have looked like:
Certainly there are some good games there. Great ones, in fact. But there are some things missing. Last year’s champion, UConn Huskies? Not there. The Runners-up, Coach Cal and the Cats? Nope. Michigan State? Louisville? CINDERELLA?? Nowhere to be found.
The 4 team playoff is a start, but let’s get football on basketball’s level. Let’s get to 16 teams, and even that would be a lower percentage of playoff bound teams.
And for now, let’s never take the Madness for granted.
The Terrible Lakers
I’ve always rooted against Kobe Bryant. He’s a great player. He’s a terrible teammate and an ornery human being. He plays a style of basketball that is exciting when it is good and excruciating when it is bad (See also: Anthony, Carmelo).
And this year, he and everything about the Lakers has been brutal. Byron Scott has called for his team to shoot more long 2’s, less 3’s, and foul more on defense, all of which seem stupid according to mathematics and common sense.
Kobe isn’t helping. Since 1985-86, he’s one of two players to attempt over 330 field goals and shoot less than 39% on those attempts in his first 14 games.
(It’s actually amazing given the numbers we’ve seen from Kobe this year that he’s not even close to what Iverson did in his post-MVP, post-Finals season)
And what has it gotten him? A 3-11 record and league wide ridicule. So go ahead Kobe, keep chucking.
Big Guys Doing The Cookie Face Challenge
Basketball takes a while. There’s halftimes and timeouts during thousands of games every year. It isn’t baseball, but there’s still so much time to fill.
Enter The Cookie Face Challenge. It’s simple. Put a cookie on your forehead and get it to your mouth with no hands.
For best results, have American treasures Shaquille O’Neal and Joel Embiid give it a try.
This proves Jo Jo will be better than Shaq. I’m thankful for that.
And now, rapid fire things I’m thankful for:
Long alley oops, Jalen Rose, college basketball bench celebrations, guys who yell when they grab a rebound, student sections, ESPN’s Chad Ford, the new Boogie Cousins, Anthony Davis, a healthy Georges Niang, the Jason Williams-Randy Moss basketball highlights in the “Rand University” 30 for 30, organ music in NBA arenas, Gus Johnson, Nerlens Noel’s dancing skills, the NBA owners voting against lottery reform, Draymond Green, Steve Kerr as a coach, Mark Jackson as a broadcaster, the Morris brothers being on the same team, Tom McGinnis on the Sixers radio broadcast, backdoor cuts, the countdown to see if LeBron or Kobe will melt down first, a new season of college kids launching half court shots for tuition money, the Pelicans new red uniforms, heat check 3’s, Michael Carter-Williams love of Ellen, NBA mock drafts, Anthony Bennett being in shape, Swaggy P and Iggy Azalea’s relationship, Gary Payton, Space Jam, the Bulls’ intensity, the new ACC, Shaun Livingston’s continuing career, Duke and UNC both being good this year.
Good hoops at any level.
All of you for reading.
Shane McNichol is the founder, editor, and lone contributor to PalestraBack.com. He loves Thanksgiving. Follow him on Twitter @OnTheShaneTrain.