Can't we all just get along?
So many strange things have already happened in the first 10 weeks of the 2012-13 NBA season.
There was also the time a team scored just five points in a quarter. That happened twice! You know who you are, Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks.
And there was the New Orleans Hornets' Xavier Henry, who heaved a desperation, full-court buzzer beater with four seconds left in the third quarter. I haven't seen clock management that bad since Andy Reid was coaching the Philadelphia Eagles (too soon?).
I can't believe there's an entire half-season remaining. And then there's the playoffs! (Remember last year when a drunk woman meandered onto the court during a game between the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers?)
All those things were pretty bad and pretty strange, but I present to you the cream of the crop...
JaVale McGee received a four-year, $44 million contract in the offseason from the Denver Nuggets, but he's not even starting. Instead, coach George Karl prefers the services of Kosta Koufos in his first five. Consequently, McGee's averaging 10 points but only 19 minutes a game.
On November 9 against the Utah Jazz, McGee committed yet another hilarious error, taking home Shaq's top honors.
After the Jazz made a field goal, McGee collected the ball under the basket, took one step in the direction of the baseline and then inbounded the ball...from inbounds. Some might call this a mere "brain fart," but it fits perfectly into McGee's pattern of utterly puzzling gaffes.
Shaq and his buddies certainly found it funny. So will you.
The Brooklyn Nets have made a lot of changes as part of their move across the Hudson and East Rivers. One of these was commissioning Marvel to design a new mascot to replace the New Jersey Nets' loveable (though uninspired) Sly the Silver Fox.
The result? The BrooklyKnight.
No, not the Brooklyn Knight. No, not the Brooklynite. The BrooklyKnight. Just like their couture-clad "dance team" is called the Brooklynettes (you know, like the Brooklyn Nets).
For the team's home opener, Marvel created a 32-page comic book detailing the origin of the NBA's newest (and only) superhero.
The team theatrically introduced the basketball-minded caped crusader by lowering a costumed fellow from the rafters of Barclays Center amid a shower of sparks.
The Nets PA announcer described the new mascot thusly:
Your superhero is here. Born from the beating heart of your Brooklyn. Forged from the same steel and stone as your battleground. He's your hunger for a team to call your own. He's your passion given form. Here to defend Brooklyn, he's your BrooklyKnight.
And this ridiculous mascot has been spooking young Nets fans with his terrifying visage and frightening reporters with his T-shirt cannon ever since.
For years now, Rasheed Wallace has been professing his deeply held belief that the basketball does not lie. Or, simply: "Ball don't lie." This refers to the fact that when a player draws a foul call which may have been less than deserved, he will often miss one or both free throws.
The rest of the world calls this karma.
Of course, Wallace is the league's all-time leader in technical fouls with over 300 in his career. But that's clearly just prejudice in action. He has even succeeded in getting ejected from a game without saying anything, merely staring.
Since catching on with the New York Knicks, Wallace has continued to express his signature maxim to opposing players.
On December 2 against the Phoenix Suns, Sheed managed to pick up two technical fouls in only 85 seconds of court time. After delivering a hard foul on Luis Scola, Wallace jawed with the refs and was whistled for a technical.
When Goran Dragic missed the ensuing free throw, Sheed obviously stated, "Ball don't lie" (at the 0:38 mark of the video). He was whistled for another technical and ejected from the game, much to the delight of anyone who likes comedy.
But as Dr. Martin Luther King taught us, you have to stand up for what you believe in.
On November 2, at the end of a 105-95 loss to the L.A. Clippers, the Lakers' Steve Blake apparently didn't appreciate some of the comments coming from the peanut gallery. Or, in this case, from the uber-expensive courtside seats at Staples Center.
You can see Blake addressing a fan while Chris Paul shoots free throws (at the 0:25 mark), and he then stays on the court after fouling out shortly thereafter.
Why would someone remain on the court after being disqualified? Well, he wanted to berate the fan who had allegedly advised him, "You need to knock down those open shots" (per Eric Pincus of the L.A. Times). Blake finished the evening with eight points on 2-of-6 shooting plus three turnovers.
Okay, so he lost his temper at the end of a frustrating loss. It happens.
But who was the fan? None other than Lance Jackson, the son of L.A. Gear mogul Steve Jackson, a Lakers superfan who has held a row of eight courtside seats for many seasons.
The elder Jackson is such a big Laker fan that he has a regulation-sized basketball court at his Bel Air home. And it's no ordinary court. It's "painted in Los Angeles Lakers colors, with a Lakers logo at center court" (via Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel).
The league unsurprisingly fined Blake $25,000 for "directing inappropriate language toward a fan" (via Pincus).
On November 9, the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Seattle, er, Sacramento Kings, 97-86. During the game, the mercurial DeMarcus Cousins made a few solid plays against Spurs legend Tim Duncan and emphatically exhorted the Kings bench to celebrate following the last one.
Then Duncan swatted a Cousins shot and scored several baskets, prompting Spurs announcer Sean Elliott (himself an ex-Spur and notorious homer) to state on-air that Cousins should conduct himself with more "humility," and in general, you shouldn't "start talking and flapping your gums against one of the greatest players ever" (per Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News).
When news of Elliott's comments reached Cousins in the locker room following the game, he returned to the court, still wearing his uniform, and waited for Elliott and his play-by-play partner, Bill Land, to finish their postgame show.
Spurs radio announcer Bill Schoening was there to witness the ensuing confrontation, saying:
I was wondering why Cousins was out there in his uniform waiting for them to finish his postgame show. Then I saw them in an animated conversation out on the court. I observed Sean walk away from Cousins and Cousins continue to talk to Sean as he left the scene, but I couldn’t hear what was being said.
Well, it sure sounds like Cousins wanted a piece of Elliott, and he later called the 44-year-old Elliott's comments "immature."
The NBA reviewed the incident and decided to suspend Cousins two games for going after the announcer. Cousins responded via Twitter, saying only, "Wow ...."
Joey Crawford has worked as an NBA official for the last 35 years. It's safe to say that he's seen it all during his time in the post. Perhaps he's beginning to get bored.
In a game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Indiana Pacers on November 27, the score was tied at 74 apiece with just over a minute left. Indiana's David West dribbled to the hoop and collided with Chris Duhon for what seemed like an offensive foul (Duhon's feet were set, and he was outside the restricted area).
Not only did Crawford whistle Duhon for blocking, but he came goose-stepping onto the court while emphatically blowing his whistle and signalling a foul on the Lakers several times.
Or perhaps he was just doing his impression of Quagmire from Family Guy. Regardless, the action seemed more befitting of someone auditioning to be the leader of a drumline than a veteran NBA ref.
West converted one of the two free throws, and—following a pair of buckets from George Hill—the Pacers won the game 79-77.
On December 5, Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register reported that Kobe Bryant had been admonished by teammate Dwight Howard for not providing help defense on multiple occasions in the L.A. Lakers' victory over the New Orleans Hornets.
Howard stated after the game, "I don’t have a problem with saying anything to anybody, and it should be that way." Okay, Dwight, but this comes from a man with a history of sounding off inappropriately about players and coaches on his own team. (By the way, where does Stan Van Gundy work these days?)
On January 4, Kobe Bryant bestowed a belated Christmas gift upon the world. He joined Twitter, proclaiming, "The antisocial has become social #mambatweets."
So what would the new social Kobe give to his fans via the microblogging site? It didn't take him long to serve up something delicious.
On January 7, just three days after Bryant set up his Twitter, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reported that, according to a league source, Dwight and Kobe got into a "heated exchange" following the team's loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on New Year's Day.
Allegedly, the pair argued and Kobe referenced the criticisms of Howard being "soft." Teammates had to restrain Howard from going after him physically. Kobe was obviously upset, and when asked by reporters why the team was struggling, he replied, "Cause we’re old as s---. What do you want?"
Just hours after Bondy's article was published, Bryant tweeted out the above photo making light of the supposed confrontation, which features Kobe and Dwight squaring off like it's an MMA weigh-in and coach Mike D'Antoni recumbent on a trainer's table attempting to dissuade the fisticuffs.
Bryant wrote, "The mamba vs d12 !! It's on lol."
It's so great to see that they can laugh together and put aside their differences, but the tweeter doth protest too much, methinks. It's almost like the dreaded vote of confidence that Mike Brown received from Jim Buss just days before the Lakers axed him. Let's see, has Howard signed an extension yet?
The veracity of Bondy's report notwithstanding, the fact remains that the Lakers are reeling with a 17-24 record. They are in 12th place and 15 games out of first. Ouch.
But at least Kobe is on Twitter! While he is still learning how to properly use hashtags, he obviously knows how to publish hilariously bizarre Twitpics.
On January 7, the New York Knicks lost a tough game to their division rivals, the Boston Celtics.
Melo was clearly agitated by something Garnett said to him, stating afterwards, "There's some things as men that you just don't say" (per ESPNNewYork.com's Ian Begley).
Anthony even waited for Garnett outside the Celtics team bus, along with a phalanx of several dozen members of the NYPD and Madison Square Garden security (and Rajon Rondo at the periphery of the crowd).
Hmm, I wonder what KG said to make him so mad...
Thankfully, Robert Littal of BlackSportsOnline.com did some digging and came up with a possible answer. According to "several sources in attendance," Garnett said that Melo's wife, Alani "La La" Vazquez, tastes like Honey Nut Cheerios.
Well, at least he's championing whole grains, which are good for heart health.
If indeed that is what Garnett said to Anthony, it's understandable that Melo was irritated to such an extent. Unfortunately, the NBA suspended Melo for a game, which the Knicks lost to the Indiana Pacers, 81-76.
In the eyes of NBA executive VP of basketball operations Stu Jackson, "There are no circumstances in which it is acceptable for a player to confront an opponent after a game" (per ESPNNewYork.com's Ian Begley). While it didn't seem likely that Anthony was seeking to come to blows with Garnett in the midst of so many security staffers, that sort of conduct doesn't fly with the league.
Garnett was not disciplined by the NBA, and the biggest winner in the whole kerfuffle was General Mills, who got some free advertising. La La herself jested about this to her two million Twitter followers:
Not for nothing,but we ALL deserve a check or some free cereal 4all the publicity we've given Honey Nut Cheerios! LOL #cantbelieveeverything— LA LA(@lala) January 11, 2013
Even people with anxiety disorders have Twitter.
The Houston Rockets selected Royce White out of Iowa State with the 16th overall pick in the 2012 draft. Unfortunately, White has not appeared in a regular-season game for the Rockets.
White suffers from an anxiety disorder and is also averse to airplane travel. He has been working with the Rockets on the best way to accommodate his condition, though without success.
White stated to ESPN's Colleen Dominguez that he didn't feel the team was doing enough to support him, and he was prepared to give up a career in the NBA rather than "compromise" his health.
On November 16, Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski published an article titled "Royce White's battle with Rockets over anxiety disorder could cost him NBA career."
He closed by writing:
The NBA will never be played on his terms. Royce White isn't good enough, and the sooner he realizes it, the sooner he understands only he can save himself right now, the sooner he can maybe salvage a career that's already slipping away.
Eight days later, White had eventually gotten wind of the article, so he took to Twitter to confront the highly respected NBA writer. White fired off dozens of tweets assailing Wojnarowski's article, including this one questioning the integrity of the journalist's sourcing:
@wojyahoonba Things in the article aren't true, and they were REPRESENTED as fact, not even a source to back them up! Where do they do that?— Royce White (@Highway_30) November 24, 2012
The outburst did nothing to help White's cause, and Wojnarowski remained mum of the issue.
The Rockets eventually suspended White for "refusing to provide services." Rockets GM Daryl Morey stated, "We will continue to work with Royce to hopefully come to a resolution" (via ESPN).
Yes, the top spot goes to an incident without much consequence, but I've never seen anything like this before. It was, if nothing else, bizarre.
On December 10, in the third quarter of a loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, Toronto Raptors backup center Amir Johnson really, really wanted to touch the ball before J.J. Hickson attempted his second free throw.
Hickson made the first foul shot, and referee David Jones corralled the ball. Johnson then seized it as well, and a very strange tug of war ensued. After tussling with Johnson for about six seconds, Jones turned around and called a technical on Johnson and ejected him from the game.
Johnson pursued Jones and had to be restrained by teammates and coaches. He then threw his mouthpiece at Jones, inadvertently coming quite close to hitting assistant coach Scott Roth in the face with the follow-through.
Afterwards, Johnson admitted to SI.com's Ben Golliver that his behavior was "childish." He attempted to explain himself, saying:
It was something that didn’t need to happen. I lost my cool. I apologize on that part. I’ve never been kicked out of a game before or been T’d up like that...He turned his back, I really wanted to know what happened...I never had any problems all the eight years I’ve been in the league. I never argued with a ref or did anything wrong.
Raptors head coach Dwane Casey wanted to know what happened too. As he told Golliver:
It’s usually a situation where officials let you touch the ball, feel the ball. You just come into the game, get a little sweat on your hands, feel the ball a little bit. I don’t know what happened between David and Amir, but it escalated. I told Amir you can’t let it escalate...That’s totally of character for Amir. He usually doesn’t get that excited or upset.
Well, for whatever reason, Johnson was really excited to touch the ball that day. Perhaps we can just chalk it up to the frustration of playing for the Raptors. That loss dropped them to 4-18 on the season.
Johnson was suspended without pay for a game, which cost him a shade over $70,000 because he couldn't hold the ball for a moment. As the Otara Millionaires Club would say, how bizarre. How bizarre.