Why the NBA and Why Now: An Exclusive Interview with Alan Wright

May 8, 2012 by


Alan has immersed himself into the NBA season this year.  Each night he tunes in to any of the networks broadcasting NBA games.  There is an unexplainable enthusiasm with Alan watching the NBA and I must get to the bottom of this…..

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Q: Did you follow the lockout?

Not really.  It was hard not to know what was going on with it because it was everywhere, but at the time, I really couldn’t have cared less if the NBA even had a season.  My disinterest in the NBA, and basketball in general, was surpassed only by my disinterest in Hockey.  Do they still play hockey?

Q: Did the lockout play any part of your increased interest in the NBA this year?

Nope, I thought your posts about it were funny, though.

To be fair, I really started watching the NBA last season.  I used to hang out at a dive bar whose patrons were very into the NBA.  I had already had a hard time establishing my credibility at the establishment and not knowing a damn thing about the NBA didn’t help.  So I watched whenever I was there, and quizzed my friends about the game so I could know enough to have conversations and not look like a white undercover cop in a black bar, which is pretty much what they all thought I was (and I am not – as my friend used to tell the guys there – If he is an undercover cop he’s either spectacular at it, or he has the best job in the world).

Q: What part of the actual game do you enjoy that you cannot get from watching any other sport?

Everything that happens within 15 feet of the hoop:  the split second decisions, when to collapse, when to drive, when to pass, the sheer brutality of what happens in the paint.  Football has all that power at the line but basketball adds grace to the equation and that’s what makes it so unique for me.

Q: What game during this season did you watch that made you starve for more?

Clippers/Lakers.  Kobe scoring 40 points for the 4th game in a row and still losing was great – but the Clippers were relentless, controlling the whole game, scoring, banging the boards and showcasing a whole lot of potential greatness with Paul and Griffin.  I hated the Lakers even when I didn’t watch basketball; this game looked like the future for LA basketball and that appealed to me.

Q: Better network for the NBA viewing experience-NBA Network, ESPN, or TNT/TBS?

NBA network – there’s basketball on after midnight almost every night of the week.  I love live sports being on so late on the east coast.

Q: Who is your favorite announcer?

My roommate Doug.

Q: Do you read NBA box scores?

I do, I love box scores.  I used to read the college box scores all the time when I was kid, and you know how I am with baseball, basketball box scores are the next best to baseball.  I love it when you see a big number like 18 in the rebounds, or 15 in the assists.  There’s a certain haiku quality to a good box score, it can say so much with so little.

Q: You have to trade either Dwayne Wade or Lebron James to make for much needed cap room, which player would it be and why?

Dwayne Wade.  I’d rather hang out with Wade, but LeBron is just a better player.  If the NBA only consisted of the playoffs, I’d take Wade over LeBron.

Q: What team do you enjoy watching the most and why?

The Clippers, here’s why:

  • They aren’t great yet.  It’s always good to come into a game rooting for a team that doesn’t suck, but also isn’t on top.  The only time you should choose to root for a team that sucks is if it’s your hometown team.  Never choose a team on top (again, unless it’s your home team, and you better be prepared to like them when they suck in the future, because they will, they always will), it’s too easy, nobody wants to be a bandwagon.  It is nice to root for a team that can win some to keep you involved, but also has potential to be really great so you can see something on the horizon and invest in the future.
  • Chris Paul – he’s a hometown kid, born and raised in Winston Salem, he does a bowling tournament here that brings ESPN into the very same bowling alley I’m in every Tuesday night, and he’s got a great attitude.  Oh yeah, and he’s a great point guard.
  • Blake Griffin – Shit that dude can dunk.  I hate to sound like one of those guys who watch the games for the dunks, but seriously, if he’s in it, you got to look for the dunk.  He’s so physical, not as big as some of the other players, but he’s hard, he knows his moves, and is fun to watch.  If the kid can learn to shoot from 12 feet out he’ll be unstoppable.
  • The throwback uniforms – that shit is fantastic.  I’d wear that to work.
  • They’re professional, they come out, they play hard and they don’t get in each other’s way.

Q: As a personal therapist to Lebron James, what aspects of his mental make-up would you hone in on?

His fear of failure.  During the regular season, you pretty much make the NBA playoffs by breathing and wearing those shorts, but in the playoffs, every game matters.  It’s clear watching him in the finals that he’s so afraid of how he’s going to be judged when he loses, that he doesn’t allow himself to take the risk and play like a star.  He just limps around the court with that lost little boy look on his face.  Remember when you were a kid, and it came down to it and you wanted the ball so you could be the star?  James is that other kid, the one in right field who prayed and prayed for the ball to be hit anywhere but where he was.

Q: What player(s) do you enjoy watching the most and why?

Kevin Durant, Blake Griffen, LeBron James and for a while there, Jeremy Lin.  I like Griffin because of the aforementioned dunks, Durant and James because of their sheer talent and ability to control every aspect of the game and  Lin because he came out of nowhere and really doesn’t look like he belongs, but he’s tough, he doesn’t give up and he’s not afraid to try and make things happen.

Q: If you could dunk on one NBA player who would it be and why?

LeBron James so I could make him cry.  Or maybe Dwight Howard, just because he’s such a dick.

Q: Why do you enjoy watching the NBA over college hoops?

College hoops are BORING.  All you need to know about the NBA is when they finally allowed Zone Defense, nobody played it because they’re good enough to go man to man.  Play zone in the NBA and you get scored on.

The Bobcats were historically awful this year, which always leads to those dumbass questions – “Could Kentucky beat the Bobcats?” – the answer is no.  Not at all.  I don’t care what reasons you try and throw at me, it just won’t happen.  The worst NBA team is still miles ahead of the best college team, it’s just not a comparison.

Q: In your opinion, who is the MVP of league this year and why?

LeBron James, the dude is just sick.  There’s no logical reason not to vote for him.  I like Durant more, but James just has the better stats all around, and every game, whatever is needed, James can be called upon to do it.

Q: What team will make a surprising run in the playoffs?

Grizzlies.  I’d like to say Clippers, and really the only reason I’m saying the Grizzlies is because my roommate Doug is convinced of it, so I’m going to go with what he says.  Plus, if I say the Clippers, they’re guaranteed first round out.

Q: What don’t you like about Jeremy Lin?

His fans.  Although, “FuckYea!JeremyLin” used to be a pretty great site, now it’s kind of lame.

Q: Kobe Bryant-Who in baseball most resembles Kobe in terms of talent and character?

My first reaction is Bonds, but that’s not really fair.  Bonds was better than Kobe, even before the steroid era, and even Kobe wasn’t as big a dick as Barry.  I think maybe Ken Griffey?  Enough talent to be the best, a smile and personality that should win everyone over, but surliness underneath that belies the smile.  Baseball is so different than basketball so the comparisons will never be straight up, I think that ultimately Griffey was even better at his game than Kobe was, but Kobe has lasted longer and won more, so there you go.  Oh yeah, Griffey never raped anyone, so he’s got that going for him, too.

Q: What current NBA coach do you respect, think is overrated, would love to play for, and could make a successful transition to the college ranks? (You must choose a separate coach for each answer)

There’s coaches in the NBA?  I’m too new to this to really see the impact the coaches have, I know they do, but I never played organized ball as a kid, so what they do to impact the game isn’t obvious to me.  When I see a team like the Heat, or the Thunder out there, I’m pretty sure they could win without anyone telling them what to do.  But then again, I guess when you see a team like the Grizzlies, Clippers or Knicks, you know their coach has an impact, I just don’t know enough to answer the question properly.

Q: Do you agree with the following statement?  The NBA’s minimum-age requirement (19 yrs of age) for players seeking to be drafted is, quite simply, good business for the league.

I’m not sure it alone is good business for the league.  There is something to be said for baseball being able to sign up kids at 16, and Soccer for being able to sign kids whenever they want.  I think  good business is signing good talent.  The NBA got burned on signing high school players and everyone freaked out with an age requirement.   Really, the lack of success was probably regulating enough.

College basketball is so developed and prolific that the NBA doesn’t really need a minor league(I know they have the D league, but they existed for years without it), it makes sense to draft kids AFTER they’ve had a chance to play in a developed college program.

I do think it’s good for the kids, though.  The NBA just isn’t really a great place for a just out of high school kid to develop as a person.

Q: Who is the best point guard in the NBA right now and why?

Chris Paul, because his nickname is cool and he doesn’t have a tattoo on his neck.

Q: If you were a GM and had the number one pick in my hypothetical draft, your team sorely needs a point guard and a small forward who would you choose-Kevin Durant or Chris Paul?

Kevin Durant.  I love CP3, but he’s older, more injury prone and hasn’t been the same since his fantastic 3rd and 4th season.   I think if we were talking about one of those Chris Paul seasons it might be closer, but I think if you have a chance to get a talent like Durant, you have to do it.

Q: Once again you are playing the role of GM.  Your team is talented and had high hopes for a deep playoff run.  Unfortunately, the team is hovering around .500, there is unrest between the coaching staff and players, attendance is dropping at an alarming rate, and there is extreme pressure placed on you from the owner to turn the ship around.  You fire the coaching staff and the following coaches below are available and willing to be your next coach.  Who do you hire?

  • Phil Jackson (He will coach the team for the remainder of the season and tells you upfront that he has no plans to return the next year.)
  • Mike Kryzewski (He calls you and says that your team is his dream job and will resign at Duke immediately to be the head coach of your team.)
  • Gregg Popovich (Tim Duncan retires and wants a new challenge)
  • Doc Rivers (Recently fired by the Celtics and is available)
  • John Stockton (Stockton has never coached but wants the opportunity and sells you hard on the impact he can make to not only make the playoffs but to contend for a title this year)

Phil Jackson – Again, I’m not a great judge of coaches, but first I’d never hire a college coach for a pro team, it’s just not the same in any way.  No way in hell Coach K could coach Kobe.  I wouldn’t give my team to a first time coach, like Stockton, no matter how he sells me.  Rivers and Popovich are interesting choices, but Jackson has the track record, the presence, and is just so fucking cool you gotta take him if you have the choice.

Q: You can change the format of the NBA All-Star weekend’s dunk contest in any way you choose, what would this look like? 

No props, and add a defender.  It’s awesome to watch a dude dunk from the foul line, but it’s even better to watch him dunk on and over somebody.

Q: If you could extract one NBA franchise, who would it be and why?

The Bobcats, they suck.  North Carolina is a college basketball town, keep it that way.

Q: What former MLB player would make the better NBA forward-Frank Thomas, Randy Johnson, or Dave Parker?

Ha, what a great question!

The idea of watching Randy Johnson dribble a basketball makes me think Rodeo Clown, I’m not exactly sure why – he’s just never struck me as a versatile athlete, he’s really more of a freak of nature.

My original inclination was to go with Frank Thomas, but after giving it some thought, he’s just too slow.

I’m going to go with Dave Parker, especially the 70s coked up version of Dave Parker – the one who could steal bases, get double figures in triples, and generally show the all-around athleticism that I think you have to have to make it in the NBA.  I think he would be a Charles Barkley type player.

Q: What statistic(s) would you use to assess a players impact? 

All the usual: points per game, field goal percentage, minutes played, rebounds, assists, steals, blocked shots.  In some ways it’s like baseball, those stats are different depending on the position you play so you can’t necessarily compare players of different positions, you have to judge them based on what they play, their team, and the era.

I like some of the new stats, like win shares, for Basketball.  It tries to take all those stats and then norm them across players, leagues, time, etc, so that you get a true look at the value of the player.  I don’t know enough about the methodology to make any claims on its accuracy, but I like its potential.

Q: Who benefitted more from each other and why-Hip-Hop or the NBA?

NBA.

Hip Hop is an outpouring from a fairly specific segment of society that share a recognition and importance for brand labeling – whether that’s a favorite sport team, clothing, alcohol or political or spiritual leader.  The music has found a broad range appeal that goes beyond the segment of society that spawned it.  Many NBA artists, in addition to creating popular music, are great advertisements for sports and sports apparel.

The NBA has capitalized on this by incorporating hip hop into much of its advertising, in game music, etc.  It already markets itself to players who are more likely to listen to hip hop (young and urban) while increasing its marketing to the type of fan that will most likely listen to that music.  The NBA doesn’t worry about marketing to folks like our parents, or our friends that hate this kind of music.  They don’t need to, those folks are going to watch basketball if they like it, they aren’t going to be swayed if they don’t and they aren’t their core market anyway.

The NBA has definitely done a great job recognizing their market and actively going after it(Pay attention Atlanta Braves, you are in a predominantly African American city and you still insist on having guys like Travis Tritt advertise for your team – what will it take for you to get Outkast or Usher – guys who already support the Braves and could draw in TONS of fans?), so they deserve the credit for the that.

Q: Why hasn’t the NBA ever had issues/scandals with performance enhancing drugs?

I’m guessing, and everything I’m about to say is nothing but conjecture, that there are a lot more players in the NBA using steroids or HGH than anyone thinks. Steroids have the reputation of adding bulk and strength, which many of them do, but not all of them do.

Check out this excerpt from Mark Stein’s ESPN article on the NBA and steroids:

Said one veteran NBA athletic trainer who wished not to be identified: “In the basketball culture, players want to be long and athletic. They want to be lean, and they would be fearful that added bulk would affect their lateral quickness. The baseball player, the power lifter, the sprinter – they’re looking for power in short bursts. Those sports are built around short bursts of activity with long periods of rest and recovery. Basketball is continuous activity with short periods of rest and recovery.”

You know what that quote makes me think of?  Horse Racing.  Most popular steroids in horse racing – Winstrol (Stanozolol –  a banned substance by the NBA), the same steroid that Palmeiro got busted using.  Winstrol is known for creating strong muscles, not bulky muscles – in fact that is one of its hallmarks, lean, non-bulky muscle.  It also increases endurance.  Those are all great effects for an NBA player.

In addition to these kinds of steroids is Human Growth Hormone.  Everyone things Big and Bulky because of Barry Bonds and his big head, but there  are also folks like Marion Jones who used HGH – lean, athletic, high endurance and quick recovery athletes.  You can listen to WADA (and their affiliated scientists) about HGH testing, but the jury is still out on its efficacy, and even if it is a great test, the NBA isn’t using it so they certainly aren’t going to catch anyone using it unless they get busted buying it.

Does all this mean I think NBA players use steroids or HGH just because it looks like a good match?  No.  I think Steroids are used in the NBA because they are common throughout gyms in high school, College, and the general public.  I think NBA players use them because there is already a culture of drugs in the sport.

Coming from a pro drug culture, it makes no sense to me that the players would turn their noses up to a particular kind of drug, especially one that would improve healing and lean muscle.  Trainers admit that it’s hard to get players to do their workouts.  We know that many NBA players enjoy illicit drugs.  Doesn’t it make sense that if a trainer, or other trusted person, suggested something that would help them work out less, and maintain form, that they would do it whether it was illegal or not? Hell, in the NBA you only miss 5 games for a positive test so the benefits really outweigh the negatives.

Does that explain why there is no big scandal?  Not really, but I think it does point to a situation that is ripe for the use of steroids and HGH, but have little attention from the media or fans, and even less from the administration, so even if usage was rampant, I don’t think we’d know about it.

Q: Comparing your viewing experience, what does the NBA have over the NFL?

Pacing.  The NFL is so boring to watch.  I know that seems funny coming from someone who loves baseball, which is universally agreed upon by non-baseball fans to be the most boring sport known to man, but it’s true.  Football is all about seconds and how hard someone gets hit.  A few seconds of fast paced action, then everyone getting back together and talk about it, then a few seconds more of action, then someone gets nailed and we watch that replay over and over.  Thank God for Television, it at least makes football watchable, live is like rubbing sand in my eyes.

The NBA is fast paced and continuous; the refs don’t call tons of touch fouls like they do in college, so you actually get to see the players play.  The game isn’t routinely stopped for huddles and regrouping and the players have to think and react more spontaneously to the game for longer periods of time.

Also, it’s kind of lame watching a receiver do the goal post dunk when you can watch the real thing in an NBA game.

Q: Outside of an enormous ego, why did Michael Jordan ever think he could hit a baseball?  Why would it be easier to make the jump from MLB baseball to the NBA and not vice versa?

I think he was suffering from a midlife crisis of epic proportion.  He was a mess after his father’s death and I think he just wanted to start over again.  At least he loved baseball enough to give it a try.

The athletic skills required for basketball just don’t transfer over to baseball.   There are good baseball players who possess the skills required for basketball, but they also have to have another set of skills to do well in baseball (guys like Willie Wilson and Dave Winfield come to mind).  Danny Ainge was a horrible baseball player, but had a long NBA career.  I don’t think many players from baseball could decide to drop the sport and become a basketball player and do well; especially not at the advanced age that MJ tried it.

Baseball and Football have a much better shared skill set, the crossovers there are more likely, and even then it’s more likely to work going from football to baseball than vice versa.

Q: Who will be the two teams playing for the 2012 NBA title?

Miami Heat and OK Thunder

Q: Who wins the title and why?

The HEAT, you can’t have that much talent and continue to lose.  They don’t have any significant injuries, and they’re the best team out there.

This would have been my answer last year, too.  So take it for what it is.

Q: You start your team with what player and why-Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, or Michael Jordan?

Michael Jordan.  Johnson and Bird won with incredible teams, Jordan won with Scottie Pippen.  Jordan leaves, bulls lose, Jordan comes back, Bulls win.  I’m not saying that the Lakers and the Celtics would have won without Bird or Johnson, but they would have had a better chance.  Michael Jordan is the best to ever play, for that reason alone, you start your team with him.  You can talk about what position you build around, what kind of talent is easier to build off of, etc etc, but if you can get the best, you get the best.

Would I rather have Willie Mays or Babe Ruth – Willie Mays was a more all-around talent.  Babe Ruth was the best to ever play the game.  Babe wins every time, same with Jordan.

Q: Will your interest in the NBA continue next season?

Yes.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

 

Do you remember back in high school science class when you were assigned by your teacher to form some scientific-based hypothesis, and then come to a conclusion?   You were asked to carry out the assignment through the use of the scientific method.   That was my initial plan when I came up with the idea for the post.  I bailed on that fairly early, basically after the second question.

Listed below are the steps to the scientific method.  Notice I skip steps 2 through 5.

  • o Ask a Question
  • o Do Background Research
  • o Construct a Hypothesis
  • o Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
  • o Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
  • o Communicate Your Results

 

Alan’s sudden interest in the NBA remains a mystery.  Some things are best left to debate.  I instead just resorted back to asking random questions to Alan like I tend to do over a few drinks.  His answers are always an interesting read.  Why someone has a sudden interest in a sport they mostly ignored most of their life is not of interest to me anymore, it is the new insight from his answers I find fascinating.

So in conclusion, I hope many of you continue to click on the advertisements from our sponsors.  This way instead of reinvesting dollars from our sponsors to offer a better site experience for our readers, I can use that money to purchase this jersey, modeled by none other than World B. Free, for Alan:

Alan should not sit in another meeting with executives at our company without resembling a 1970’s era World B. Free.  I believe all business meetings should be held with coworkers dressed in their favorite throwback.  That’s the world I envision someday for future generations

468 ad

Leave a Comment