When David Stern’s magnanimous grin flashed across an LED jumbotron in metro Manila Monday afternoon to announce that “the NBA will play its first preseason game in the Philippines this October,” a pulse of enthusiasm shot through Filipino communities from Mandaluyong City to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to Daly City, California. Basketball has been the most popular team sport in the Philippines for generations, and it’s one of a handful of nations, alongside Lithuania and a few others, where the game is part of the bedrock of local culture. Yet even though the Philippines is a place where commuters regularly ride in multicabs and jeepneys decorated with NBA team logos and Jerry West’s iconic silhouette, the league has never brought its product there. For many Filipinos, the news that the Houston Rockets and Indiana Pacers will play a preseason game October 10 at Metro Manila’s Mall of Asia Arena was a proud moment. Finally, the NBA — the league that served as a model for the Philippines’ 38-year-old PBA — will recognize Filipinos’ love for the game. For the first time since eight players from the 1979 Washington Bullets visited Manila to play a PBA all-star selection (and Dave Corzine almost got into a fistfight with a local legend, 6-foot-1 shooting guard Atoy “the Fortune Cookie” Co), real NBA teams would be playing on Philippine soil.
There’s no greater celebration of what professional basketball has become than All-Star Weekend. There will be some fierce dunks, canny dribbling, and face-melting passes, sure, but I’m mostly talking about the spectacle, the off-court everything else, all the new sneaker prototypes and fiber technologies that will be debuted, the trumped-up drama-turned-actual-drama of the 3-point contest, all those wondrous images of awestruck celebrities and athletes cradling each other on the sidelines during a Historic Dunk Performance. It’s like the Super Bowl, only nothing actually matters. No other league has come close to mining this sweet spot between sports and entertainment quite like the modern NBA, such that a pregame concert featuring Ke$ha or a prime-time competition featuring stars showing off “fundamentals” doesn’t seem all that strange. It didn’t have to be this way. Here are just some of the pivotal and slightly prophetic moments of All-Star Weekend history that we found on YouTube:
There are at least three competing incentives at work in David Stern’s pending punishment of the Spurs for resting Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Danny Green on Thursday in Miami — a punishment that will surely top out at a fine, since any non-monetary penalty would be ridiculous.
• Having covered the NBA for a relatively brief time, I’ve no real relationship with David Stern. Our first interaction, suitably terrifying, occurred just three months ago in Las Vegas, when I asked Stern and Adam Silver a question about revenue sharing at a Board of Governors press conference during summer league. I only got my name and media affiliation out before Stern interrupted me, wagging his index finger and repeating two or three times, “Oh, so you’re the one.” I had no idea what he was talking about, but I was pretty sure Stern was already dispatching henchmen to ransack my hotel room and/or track down my loved ones.
Let's just sum up this guy's week real quick: negged the President of the United States and the First Lady's lack of comfort with public displays of affection and called David Stern's proposal to have Team USA be made up of players age 23 and under "stupid." Barack, Stern. Ether. He probably told all those kids in the picture above that they would never amount to anything. And he will probably spend the rest of his life making sure of it. So if you're one of the kids in the above picture: I'm sorry. Also?
On today's final Overdose of the season, The Basketball Jones break down the winners and losers of the 2012 NBA draft: David Stern's WWE moment, mom tattoos, surprise picks, bulging dicks, and Twitter spoiler alerts. We also look ahead to free agency by separating the realistic rumors (Odom to the Clippers) from the impractical (Josh Smith to the Lakers).
All that, plus Deron Williams's birthday, the problem with instant replay, 2K13 cover stars, flying phobias, Pun-Gun fun, and Leigh's final "Tweet of the Weak." Single tear.
Of all the possible moments that could be miked up, David Stern welcoming newly drafted first-round picks into the NBA never is. So I was forced to imagine. (Shout out to Jose3030 for help with the pics)
It's Lottery Day! Since this is a particularly special day on the NBA calendar, we thought we'd do a special Lottery Shootaround, looking at all the story lines going into tonight's Anthony Davis Sweepstakes. Also, for even more Lottery talk, be sure to check out Bill Simmons's podcast with Chad Ford.
The Conspiracy Scale
On today’s B.S. Report, Chad Ford and I tried to figure out which 2012 NBA lottery winner would cause the biggest conspiracy ruckus. I spent the next few hours tinkering with our initial list, moving teams around and asking myself questions like “What team would definitely cause ‘THAT WAS FIXED’ to trend on Twitter?,” “Which team is either opening a new stadium or trying to open a new stadium?,” “Which team just got mysteriously sold to a local NFL owner who had repeatedly turned down chances to buy that NBA team for a solid year?” and “If David Stern was still alive, which team would get Anthony Davis?”
Here are the top five suspects, ranked on the Conspiracy Scale from “Definitely a little conspiracy buzz” to “This would cause an Internet riot.”
Cleveland (35 out of 100 on the Conspiracy Scale)
It’s almost too blatant — atoning for “The Decision” (and Dan Gilbert’s whining after “The Decision”) by giving Cleveland the no. 1 overall pick two years in a row? Even Vince McMahon wouldn't do this.
In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Tuesday.
The Baylor Bears became the first college basketball team to ever compile a 40-0 record and win the national championship. Brittney Griner's 26 points and 13 boards helped her team to an 80-61 victory over Stanford Notre Dame, and earned the undefeated Bears a permanent place in the history books. "Alright, just say it," said the Washington Wizards. "You think they could beat us too, right? Just say it, damn you!"
In the past two weeks, the Miami Heat have looked like the team that many have thought (and feared) they might become since LeBron James announced the intention to take his talents to South Beach. Miami has won each of its past seven games by double digits, and it has filled those wins with enough highlights to last an entire season. The Heat have been so dominant that after a Tuesday-night game in which they scored 120 points and won by 12, coach Erik Spoelstra felt the need to apologize for their performance. They have looked like nothing if not the best team in basketball, and for most of this run, maybe the best team in years. On Thursday night, still armed with two of the five best players in the world, that team is set to face the Knicks in the most anticipated game of this season. And somehow, among all the Linsanity, the Heat are an afterthought.
It looks like David Stern picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue. After a lengthy and contentious lockout, a brief antitrust skirmish, and the cancellation of 16 regular season games, the owners and the NBPA finally agreed to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement. The months of bad publicity quickly washed away, and then Stern stepped right into the Chris Paul nightmare, vetoing a three-team trade that would have sent the inevitably-soon-to-be-ex-Hornet Paul to the Lakers, Pau Gasol to the Rockets, and a solid core of players — Luis Scola, Kevin Martin, Lamar Odom, and Goran Dragic — to the league-owned Hornets. Meanwhile, Stern and the Hornets continue to search for a trading partner for Paul.