I can honestly say this article would have been a lot harder to write 20 years ago.
As the NBA season concludes, there are many thoughts that are swirling around my head, such as:
Will there be a lockout next season?...What are the Thunder and the Bulls going to do to get better in the offseason?...Why is Dirk Nowitzki complaining every time he gets looked at by his opponent, and why is his opponent getting called for the foul? ... When did looking at a guy warrant a foul call?...Are we all watching the same game?...Seriously, Dirk's not even getting touched, is he?
Okay, maybe those last few were an exaggeration, but it's really starting to get to me, and it's not just the ticky-tack foul calls. I have seen more flops this post season than there likely were in the entire season 10 years ago.
When did the NBA become so soft?
And I'm not saying that every player should clothesline J.J. Barea in a playoff game—clearly, that is Andrew Bynum's job—but, I think that in any good basketball game, contact has to be both dished out and absorbed.
Nobody wants to watch a game with 80 free throws. That's a trip to the line nearly every minute and a half of the game. While this seems like another exaggeration, game one of the Western conference Finals between the Thunder and the Mavs hosted 79 free throws.
Luckily, there are still a few guys in the league that are feared enough to be considered ample bar fighting mates. Unfortunately, being feared is likely going to be an automatic technical foul next season.
Regardless, here's my starting five:
Westbrook gets the nod for being so freakishly athletic. Also, he is a bigger physical specimen than most players at his position.
Westbrook is one of the fastest players in the NBA, in fact, he may only be matched by LeBron James and fellow point guard-MVP recipient Derrick Rose. His speed would play a huge part in a bar fight, allowing his allusiveness to both tire out or confuse his foe.
I know what you're saying, why not just choose Rose then, right? Wrong.
Westbrook has something Rose doesn't have: uncontrollable emotions. Not only is Westbrook freakishly athletic and fast, but he also may be a little bit crazy and unstable. All terrific qualities for a bar fighter.
Jason Kidd, solely because it looks like he would stab a guy if necessary.
If there's one thing we know about Kobe, it's that he isn't going to back down from a challenge.
Over the years, Kobe has garnered many comparisons to Michael Jordan for his style of play, but the closest comparison has to be in terms of toughness.
I'll be the first to admit that Kobe certainly whines a lot to refs, but so does every player in the NBA, and most of the time, Kobe at least has an argument. Kobe had the second most technical fouls in the League during the regular season, proving that he isn't scared to stand up for himself.
Kobe's competitive edge would come in handy in a bar fight for a few reasons. First, obviously his lack of fear. Second, his ability to think on his feet and know what to do in the clutch moments. Third, he knows he can take you.
Stephen Jackson circa 2004
Like Stephen Jackson, Artest has maybe cooled off a bit since his 2004 brawl with the Detroit crowd. Unlike Jackson, though, Artest is still a lock down defender with a feared reputation.
Artest isn't afraid to get under anybody's skin, not even the best player in the game. This was proven during the 2009 Western Conference Semifinals where Ron Artest got ejected for getting in Kobe's face after Kobe had blatantly elbowed him in the throat.
And hey, a year later and the two are teammates. So much for grudges, right?
Even though Ron Ron has become more level-headed during his time with the Zen Master, I'm still not going to bet against him in any sort of fight.
Especially when you remember some of the stuff that he has said:
"I remember one time, it was um…one of my friends, you know, he was playing basketball, they was winning the game, they were so competitive, they threw a, um, they broke the…a piece of leg from a table and they threw it and it went right through his heart and he died."
Yeah, don't mess with Ron Ron.
Nobody comes close.
I know, I know ... Blake Griffin is one of the nicest (seemingly) guys in the League. He doesn't complain. He does funny commercials. He has even sparked a friendship with Norm MacDonald.
So, why Blake Griffin? I have been watching Blake Griffin for a long time. He has taken more contact than maybe any big man I've ever seen, and he always gets up and plays hard.
Nothing has ever caused him to feel defeated, and that balls-to-the-wall type attitude would work magnificently in a bar fight.
Also, don't you imagine that during all of the beatings he has taken, throughout his continual soft spoken demeanor, a bit of rage has been boiling inside of him? Now, can you imagine that rage coming out and spreading like wildfire on all of his nearby foes?
I can. It's glorious.
Zach Randolph was a close second, but he reminds me too much of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Is this just me?
Kendrick Perkins is ruthless. He has no offensive game to save his life, but he was a valued player on the Boston Celtics, and now for the Oklahoma City Thunder, because of his relentless, never back down style of defense.
He is the most out-of-character player in the League. He would fit in perfectly with the centers of old, but he kind of sticks out as a 'bad boy' in the era of increasingly soft basketball.
Perkins never looks happy. I'm not sure he ever is. I can't imagine what it would be like hanging out with Perkins in a friendly environment.
How would you want to beat Perkins in a game of NBA 2k11 on PS3? You have to throw the game, right? I can picture it being terrifying if you didn't.
With that being said, Perkins is a solid teammate, and somebody you definitely want on your side in any occasion, especially a bar fight.
He knows his place, and he doesn't want to make any friends, as evidenced by calling out Tyson Chandler during the Western Conference Finals.
Shaq. He may be getting older and more injured, but that dude is still huge. Nobody wants to fight Shaq. Not to mention, he's a genie! Did we all forget about Kazaam? Who can beat up a genie?
Also, what other NBA player has a fighting game named after them? Shaq Fu should be evidence enough for Shaq, not Kendrick Perkins to be on this starting squad.
... Then again, I do recall Aaron Carter beating Shaq in a game of basketball circa 2000.
Yeah, I'm sticking with Kendrick.