What does Batman villain Bane have to do with the NBA? Allow me to explain.
I’m one of the biggest Batman fans possible, and Christopher Nolan’s trilogy was akin to a Bible to me.
In particular, I was enthralled by Tom Hardy’s Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, as were many others. From his beating the living daylights out of Batman in a manner that resembled the Jordan-Drexler "rivalry" of 1992, to his smooth destruction of a CIA plane, there’s really nothing the man did that wasn’t stylish and just purely dripping with badassery. A lot of the phrases he used throughout the movie have become a part of my daily life.
Another thing that’s a part of my daily life, as with so many others on this site, is basketball.
So, I decided to take a stab at linking the two, and well, here we are.
And here...we…go (yes, I love the Joker as well. Sue me).
The Oklahoma City Thunder and James Harden
“Perhaps he’s wondering why someone would shoot a man before throwing him out of a plane.”
Let’s be real here: the Thunder does not have foolish management. If they did, they would not have transformed a 20-62 team into a Western Conference champion in four years. They’ve known which players to sign and, more importantly, which players not to sign.
After he won Sixth Man of the Year, it’s quite obvious that James Harden comes under the former category. The Thunder would be sacrificing their shot at an extended run of Finals/titles by letting him go. With one of the highest operating profits in the NBA, the Thunder can easily afford the luxury tax that comes with being one of the league’s best teams. They know this, and Harden knows this.
So, perhaps he’s wondering why a GM would wait to sign him when he only has till the end of this month.
The NBA’s Proposed Fines for Flopping
“I’m necessary evil.”
2012 will be remembered for three things: the year LeBron James finally won a title, the year the NBA had a lockout-shortened season, and the year flopping became a clear and present problem in the NBA.
It began as a fad for a bunch of players on the Clippers, earning the team its "Flop City" nickname. Soon, it spread to a variety of other teams, and soon, controversial calls were not the referee’s fault: If someone took a foul, he flopped.
To combat this, David J. Stern, commissioner of the NBA, has proposed fining anyone who could be proved a flopper. I don’t like Stern and a lot of his methods, but this, I’m all for. Bad calls in general bog down the quality of basketball, and if monetary reprimands counter their cause, so be it. It’s a necessary evil.
The Chicago Bulls and Derrick Rose
“This great city, it will endure. Gotham will survive.”
When you heard the sickening crack of the 2011 MVP tearing his ACL in his team’s first playoff game, you also heard the sound of thousands of other injuries: the broken hearts of all Bulls’ fans. They knew that was it for their season; a title was impossible without Rose.
Now, whatever the case may be, the Bulls are preparing for months without Rose. They have signed Kirk Hinrich, Marco Bellinelli and Nate Robinson to cover for the point guard position. Very obviously Rose is more talented than all three combined, but that doesn’t mean the Bulls still aren’t a threat.
After all, until the playoffs, the Bulls did have an 18-9 record without him. A frontline featuring Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson is always going to be frightening defensively, especially with Tom Thibodeau pulling the strings.
So, Rose or no Rose, expect Chicago to continue to remain near the top end of the Eastern Conference standings. The Windy City will endure.
Deron Williams and the Brooklyn Nets
“So, you came back to die with your city?”
Other than the Lakers’ adding Nash and Howard, of course, the creation of the Brooklyn Nets’ "Core Four" has been the most talked about point of the NBA offseason.
Is it because it involves one of the most gifted point guards in the NBA condemning himself to possibly never winning a title? Is it because it involves a 6'6" Russian billionaire? Is it because the New York area now has two teams?
Whatever the case may be, Williams’ decision remains the most surprising to me. Maybe he hasn’t done his homework on the CBA, but does he realize that with four mammoth contracts in himself, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace and Brook Lopez, the Nets have absolutely no flexibility going forward?
Do remember, if a team is paying luxury tax above the hard cap, it loses all other benefits that GMs require to build a successful team, such as the mid-level exception. Essentially, the Nets are stuck with their Core Four now, for better or for worse.
It’s arguable that Williams is just entering his prime, and it’s also arguable that every team he faces in the supporting round will have second to fourth best players that are better than the second to fourth best players on his team.
Unless Brook Lopez turns out to be the second coming of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Nets will be a guaranteed second-round exit team for the next four years. I guess D-Will couldn’t abandon his city.
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett of the Boston Celtics
“You fight like a younger man. Nothing held back. Admirable, but mistaken.”
After the Heat eliminated the Celtics in the 2011 playoffs, everyone thought Boston’s window of contention was shut for good.
They were, of course, wrong. The Celtics turned it up once again in the 2012 playoffs, in particular Kevin Garnett. He played monstrous defense and swished 20-foot jumpers like they were off-the-board shots at the rim. After beating the Hawks and Sixers, they encountered the hated Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, took a 3-2 lead, and then just vanished.
Whether it was LeBron James being more overpowering then we’ve seen from anyone in a long time, or their key veterans just running out of gas near the finish line, they were unable to keep up by the end of their season.
Who knows? With a younger and more limber core including Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo, the Celtics may be able to keep KG and Pierce off the court enough so that when they do need them on the court, they’ll be at 100 percent. Let’s just say Doc Rivers would rather not be admirable, but unmistaken as well.
LeBron James, Who Remains the Biggest Topic of Conversation in the NBA
“Speak of the Devil, and he will appear.”
Since he won his first MVP in 2009, to his second in 2010, to his flameout against the Celtics, to the Decision that same year, to another flameout against Dallas, to a third MVP, to the 12-game war he waged against Boston and Oklahoma, LeBron James is rarely far from our words.
Despite Dwight Howard’s most concerted attempts to usurp his position as the most talked-about player in the league, no one has really come close.
He could go without winning another accolade in his career, and there will still be millions of people talking about LeBron James for hours at a time.
Don’t expect that to change. We never know what we’re going to get next from him, and over the last year or so, that’s a good thing.
The Los Angeles Lakers
"When Gotham is ashes, then you have my permission to die.”
HA! Did you really think that the Lakers would go away quietly?
I really couldn’t have chosen any other quote as Bane’s best from the movie.
As Bill Simmons succinctly put it, “How the heck does this keep happening?????? The Kobe era was dead! We had the funeral and everything!”
You just can’t beat LA. They will build their team back up to the very best every time the cycle ends and then beat you black and blue.
When banner No. 17 is up in the rafters, and the championship is back in LA, then detractors will have their permission to die.