There's something about all the troubles and scandals that actually brings me closer to the game; I'm like a child who's a little too protective of their troubled parent. I don't really care about the Tim Donaghy ref scandal (though I really hope it was isolated), and I don't really care about all the will-Kobe-get-traded? drama, either. What I do care about is this:
- Gilbert Arenas acting insane (and draining some cold-blooded shots against the coaches and teams on his ever-expanding "enemies list"). I don't know that I've ever screamed more while watching a game than I did during their overtime slugfest against the Suns right around Christmastime last year. As Kobe Bryant famously said of Gilbert: "he has no conscience." Plus, he's probably the most entertaining player in the NBA since Charles Barkley retired. Also, make sure to check out his blog if you get a chance.
- The Phoenix Suns. Listen, even if you can't get around the fact that they don't play D, there's no denying the aesthetic pleasures of watching them play basketball. They are the quickest team, have one of the most crazy-athletic athletes in any sport in Amare Stoudemire, and feature the incredible point guard play of Steve Nash. While we can talk about whether they are built for the playoffs in the spring, they make the 82 game regular season infinitely more interesting.
- The rejuvenated East. Even if we all agree that the West is still the stronger conference, the East is, if nothing else, a heck of a lot more interesting this year. With Kevin Garnett in Boston, Dwyane Wade hopefully back and healthy soon, and Lebron doing his thing in Cleveland, there are more big stars in the East than there have been in a long time. Factor in the Pistons and Bulls as well, and there is a lot more basketball worthy of our attention on the Eastern Time Zone this time around.
- Reading Free Darko and Bill Simmons. Although they approach the NBA from often very different perspectives, not to mention writing styles, they both write about the NBA with incredible passion and depth. Every time they talk about basketball it reinforces why I call it my favorite sport.
- Finally, the Detroit Pistons. Ah, the Pistons, my favorite team in any sport. This summer wasn't quite as bad as the last, where I couldn't even talk about basketball for six months as I recovered from their playoff flame-out against the Miami Heat (this after I actually predicted they would go undefeated in the playoffs. I'm always a little too quick to cross the line from confident to arrogant). Last year my expectations were lower, so I was able to recover from another disappointing season a little faster. Still, this season feels different. How can I not be excited about thier youth movement? Who doesn't look forward to rooting for Jason Maxiell's thunderous dunking this year?Also, don't forget about other young players like Rodney Stuckey and Amir Johnson! Or my favorite player, Chauncey Billups! The Pistons have been old and getting older for so long that I forgot how much fun it was to watch your team undergo a youth movement. For once, I can actually see the future of the Pistons, and it seems pretty bright. Hope always springs eternal in the world of sports...