10 Things NBA Fans Can Be Thankful for
In today's NBA, we watch like we live. Every single game becomes its own event, but it passes by just as quickly as it comes, and when it's gone it gets overanalyzed, overvalued and eventually forgotten a few weeks later.
That's why, with Thanksgiving coming up, we should sit back, chill out and relax as we reflect on things that make our lives better. And whether they be by a little bit or by a lot, it seems like the most important thing to do is carry that over to basketball.
We seem to focus on the negative so much that it's easy to overlook the things that are great about today's NBA—and there are quite a few things to point to.
Whether we get complex and talk about our love of Marc Gasol's post game or go simple and just say we love how terrible Shawn Marion's jump shot looks, there's something out there for everyone to point to and hang their hat on.
It's easy to love specific things about your favorite team or your favorite player, but there are some things that every NBA fan should love, regardless of their team affiliation.
10. LeBron James
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You can dislike LeBron James for his free-agent charade, or you can dislike him because he's a member of the reigning champions, but it's time for everyone to realize all should love the way LeBron plays the game of basketball.
I couldn't imagine being one of those people that has irrationally hated Kobe Bryant for the past 15 years, and it seems impossible for anyone to have disliked Michael Jordan to the point where they disliked watching him play—the league's best players are just too good to dislike.
Whether it's LeBron's fast breaks that end in thunderous dunks, the developing post game, the amazing ball-handling or passing ability he has, or just the random pull-up three-pointers that always seem to fall when he needs them to, there's something to be wowed by every time the man touches the floor.
Go on hoping he loses if that's your bag, but watch him play basketball and tell me you don't appreciate his presence in the league.
9. Hair in the NBA
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It's been too long since we had a full-fledged afro atop a player. For that, we've got to give support to the afro that Andrew Bynum is growing as it approaches Ben Wallace and Moochie Norris territory.
Of course, Bynum isn't the only, or even the most creative head of hair starting to pop up around the league.
The flat-top is making its way back thanks to Norris Cole and Iman Shumpert, Spencer Hawes is growing out a mullet, Nick Young is starting to look like Zero from Holes, and, of course, Anderson Varejao still looks like Sideshow Bob.
As long as we've got ridiculous heads of hair running around, I'm going to be a happy camper.
8. Second Chances
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There are two great stories around the NBA that must be spread solely on the fact that they involve players who looked like they were ready to be pigeonholed into a certain mold, only to break out of it this season and show that they can still be effective players.
One, of course, is Jamal Crawford. Crawford had a horrendous season last year, shooting well below 40 percent and being generally hated by Portland fans. This season, however, he's come out and become the early leader for the Sixth Man of the Year Award as one of the league's leading scorers.
Another such player, J.R. Smith, did it not because of relocation, but because of a new mindset toward practice and staying away from the party scene. Smith is taking wiser shots, scoring more efficiently and is a huge reason behind the Knicks' hot start to the season.
Here's to second chances.
7. Steady San Antonio
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In a league where we can count on nothing besides technical fouls and a flop here and there, it's reassuring that there's a team out there that can come in every season and continue to finish near the top of their conference.
It's not necessarily a good thing to see if you're the fan of another Western Conference team, but it's reassuring to the league that greatness is sustainable. Of course, the greatness is sustainable if you have one of the greatest head coaches of all time and the best power forward in the history of the league.
Even still, for whatever reason, the transition the Spurs have made from being a defensive-minded team to an offensive juggernaut makes it seem it's not the players you have that make a team great, but rather how well they work together.
6. Knicks and Lakers Fans
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They are two fanbases that I love to give crap to, and they're the most fun to rile up, but let's take a minute to be thankful for the Knicks and Lakers fans out there.
No other fanbases are as easily offended by an off-hand comment, and no others are as easy to anger, but it's nice to have a group of people who are at times so over-the-top with their optimism for their team that reading their thoughts just makes you feel better.
I wouldn't say they're the best fans in the league—the dedicated ones are quite interesting to talk to but the bandwagoners are hard to ignore—it's just that they're so much louder and so much prouder than most of the rest of the league that listening to them, while mind-shatteringly annoying at times, seems to complete the NBA experience.
5. Rasheed Wallace, JaVale McGee and Metta World Peace
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To think, we spent the past year with no Rasheed Wallace in the NBA, and the two years prior with a Rasheed Wallace that was so bad that he could hardly sniff the court for the Boston Celtics. Thank 'Sheed he's back.
The NBA is fun enough on its own, but the personalities around the league make it more fun than ever imaginable.
It's the guys like JaVale McGee, who are going to continue on with the tradition of basketball players being both intentionally and unintentionally entertaining, while the old names of unintended basketball entertainment like Wallace and Metta World peace continue to provide hilarity on a day-to-day basis.
Until Rasheed is out of the league, the ball will continue to not lie.
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Dunks are nice and all, but have the past few years of basketball not given us all an unconditional love of the layup?
Every time we see LeBron James break off for a fast-break dunk, we know instinctively that he's going to do a windmill, a tomahawk or just some flashy flush, that's not always the case with a layup.
The layups in question here is when a guy like Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Kemba Walker or any smaller dude drives into the lane, has to maneuver around two or three players and spin the ball off the glass to put it down.
Recently Irving has become the king of the reverse layup off the glass, but Rose will continue to have the best in-traffic layup until Kyrie can unseat him, although he's getting mighty close.
3. Modern Medicine
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Last season we saw Derrick Rose, Iman Shumpert and Ricky Rubio tear at least one ligament in their knees and Avery Bradley required surgery on both his shoulders. All of those guys are expected to come back and play at some point this season.
Going further, Kevin Love's broken hand will have him out for just a few months, Brandon Roy is back in the league (and injured) with no cartilage in his knees, a fracture in Steve Nash's leg is only going to end up keeping him out for a few weeks and Dwight Howard is playing basketball after having back surgery in June.
We've got to marvel at the fact that these guys can get knocked out of the game, completely ruin a part of their body and have it replaced or fixed and be back in about nine-to-12 months in the very worst case.
Sure, there are situations like Amar'e Stoudemire, Andrew Bynum and Greg Oden where problems will continue to crop up, but some of these guys shouldn't be able to walk without a limp, let alone play professional basketball.
2. Exciting Rookies
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The past few seasons we've had rookie classes that aren't necessarily pumping out a dozen great players, but have pumped out guys that look like future superstars.
Between Kyrie Irving last season and Anthony Davis this season, we've got a pretty good streak going on of drafts that are producing superstar-level talent.
With the exception of the 2010 draft (I'm not sure what to make of John Wall quite yet) we've had a superstar come into the league every season since 2007 with Kevin Durant.
Beyond that, we're getting solid later picks that continue to make things interesting. Damian Lillard is the obvious choice from this draft, but we've also seen some interesting things from Dion Waiters, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Harrison Barnes.
1. Hustle, Physicality and Fast Breaks
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I don't think it's just me, but after the lockout-shortened 2012 season it just seems like each and every game has taken on a higher level of importance around the league, and players are trying as hard as they can to win every single game.
Even teams like the Detroit Pistons and Washington Wizards—who can be downright unwatchable—have shown a drive to try when they get down big.
Players are hustling for rebounds, throwing elbows around and just getting out on fast breaks at a more frequent rate, and in the end that leads to more exciting basketball.
So the thing to be thankful for overall is that the players seem to be trying harder, the teams seem to care more and the games are as fun to watch as they ever have been. Oh, and of course there is still another seven months of basketball still to come.
Keep it coming, NBA, this season has lived up to the hype so far, I'm sure it will continue to do so as the months drive along.