Here we are, not even a fortnight into 2009 and life in and around the NBA is showing itself to be the usual kaleidoscope of colors, sights, and sounds. Fresh off of the beating of a lifetime, perhaps Hawks players need to find something else to focus on for a minute, and so do Hawks fans. And before I go on, we WILL talk Hawks basketball by the end of this post. In the meantime, let’s look at some other things going on in and around the NBA.
First, there’s this Charles Barkley “scandal.” Why are there so many serious minded articles being written about him getting caught for a possible DUI? Okay, so he ran a stop sign. Does anybody have ANY idea how much both of these things happen? Not to undermine the seriousness and the potential of tragedy behind it, as those who know enough about me know that I take this seriously. But is this news somehow? I cannot believe that people are actually writing articles about Barkley and whether or not he can be taken seriously. I thought that was his whole appeal! Is he not the comic relief for Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith? Some writers say that he cannot be taken seriously when talking about being governor of Alabama, as well as any other “serious” jobs. And people are taking Arnold Schwartzenegger seriously (sigh…only in California). I think it’s his wife that they’re taking seriously. But Barkley? Give me a break. The guy is a fool court jester, and a loveable one. He made a couple of mistakes. How many guys haven’t? How many guys in the NBA? Look, I know it’s bad on his image. It’s bad on anybody’s image. But what gets missed is that nobody got hurt. Nobody got run over or run into. No resisting arrest. No flag-burning or national anthem blasphemy. No gun waving, no shooting. Just Charles being himself and getting caught. Again.
Why is Charles gambling big time news? Michael Jordan did it too. He still does it. And he loses at least as much as Barkley has. Only now he’s doing it with NBA budgets and owners’ money. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather see Barkley lose a few million in a casino. What Michael Jordan does is straight ugly….
It’s not that we should expect Barkley to mess up. But don’t talk about him being taken seriously when he has done everything in his power to be otherwise, the whole time he’s been retired and on television. Don’t castigate the man for something he’s never been. Clown him for what he is. But don’t forget that he has given millions to charities and done a thousand wonderful things every year. And he always is quick to admit that he has been living a very good life, one that has been a gift to him. You want to talk about somebody who comments on the NBA and shouldn’t be taken too seriously? Anybody remember Marv Albert? Of course you do. He comments on games even now. But does anybody remember what HE did? How about getting sued by a “working girl” for biting her on the hindquarters (and I heard his tupee fell off from the sheer impact) while frolicking in the hotel room that he was staying in (was that pre-game or post-game?). He ended up settling in court with her. MMhmm. Talk about unexpected and (what I saw as) out of character. I swear this guy was the voice of every Michael Jordan and Da Bulls games back when Jordan was winning it all. Now THAT was embarrasing. Anyway, moving right along.
Remember that horrid start the San Antonio Spurs had to begin the season? You know, the one that had most of the media starting the same old noise? They’re too old. They’re too slow. They’re not exciting enough. Scratch that. I’ll tell you what they are (if you weren’t paying attention). 24-11. Second in the West. Fifth overall in the NBA. And 9-1 in their last 10 games. Yep. Every year, we hear the same things. Every year it’s the demise of the Spurs. Granted, it’s only 35 games into the season. But the Spurs are back. And they have new guys to throw at you in their rotation, just like they do every year. This year’s flavors include Matt Bonner, rookie George Hill, and the hard-working Roger Mason. Big names? Nah, the Spurs don’t do the flashy thing when it comes to free agent pickups. They just do the smart thing. And keep on winning.
And then there’s the Celtics. Suddenly, the trash-talking guys in green aren’t talking so much trash. Suddenly, the dynasty in the making is a dynasty in doubt. Suddenly, the soon-to-be all-star Rajon Rondo isn’t looking like an all-star. It’s typical. You have to be established before you can be untouchable. And while the Celtics are the defending champs, they are the one-time defending champs (at least THESE Celtics are). Fame is fleeting. So are top free agent bench players. One could argue that the loss of James Posey (this had to be the biggest hit), Sam Cassell (at least as a player) and PJ Brown (veteran big to hold things down) should have been a clue that breezing through the East, much less winning 70 games, was not a given. The Celtics are still one of the top teams in the East, and still one of the best in the NBA. But suddenly, like many things in the NBA and the entertainment world, life is not quite as grand as it was. We’ll see just how much champion these guys are by the way they handle the adversity.
And with the word adversity, we get back to our beloved Hawks. Hang in there, you know I talk a lot, but I was getting to this part. Adversity is nothing strange, and until you go through it, you don’t know just how good you are. This is a step on the path towards being a truely good team. Okay, so we got smacked in the mouth really good. What do we do now? How do we approach the next game? The next FEW games? How the Hawks coaching staff and players handle tomorrow’s 2 p.m. game will be the beginning. A start in determing how this team handles this latest adversity, which I might remind myself and others, was only a two game losing streak, to the same division-leading team. What the Hawks can’t afford to do is hang their heads and mope. What they can’t afford to do is make the SAME mistakes AGAIN, which is what they did with Orlando. I don’t believe they will. Take it one game at a time. Identify the rhythm we want, and get in the flow. Philly is first. What do we need to do to beat them?