Drop Steps

Not your Fathers NBA Preview

Anthony Powers

Wow. So much has gone on since I last put voice to screen. Ebola has become the next bad bio-shit to come out of Africa to serve nature’s agenda of population control for the globe’s great polluters. ISIS is the new global boogieman to inspire us once again to march thoughtlessly back into war. Tracy Morgan, the comedian my friend at the barbershop refers to as little T Rex, is blamed by WalMart aka the Anti-Christ, for crashing the WalMart truck into his car and not even having the decency to put on his seat belt before being crushed. Ray Rice, now that’s a genius. Not only a sorry excuse for a man who violently violates the humanity of the woman he claims to love, but does so in a public elevator. You know dude, they do have cameras in those things. Or maybe he’s too busy trying to keep it real to exercise common sense. Brother, if you’re going to be the beast they think you are, at least exercise some discretion.

And who the fuck left the door to the White House unlocked? Or who unlocked it? Please understand: I’m old enough to have lived through the Kennedy assassination, Malcolm assassination, Evers assassination, King assassination, Hampton assassination, Cointelpro, the war on black people on drugs and The Jeffersons; so don’t be surprised if I find something inordinately fucking odd and suspicious about an armed somebody rummaging around freely in the White House and another armed somebody GETTING INTO THE ELEVATOR WITH THE NATIONS FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN MOST DEATH THREATENED PRESIDENT SINCE LINCOLN. Or by the secret service suddenly losing its morale about around umm ….2009.

To survive the above attacks on your psyche you face day by day in Babylon, I recommend two tonics. By tonic I mean don’t think the shit will actually heal you. You need Jesus for that. But the tonic will refresh you for the journey. And the two tonics are related in a mighty cool way. Look, I’m 53. So yes I still say cool. You don’t appreciate the timeless, transcendent qualities of cool…well fuck you. Cool remains our navigation system through a demonic world.

Survivors Remorse and the upcoming NBA season are tonics, man. Survivors Remorse , the new what I hope will be hit series, especially among us, is what the much abused and debased keeping it real is really about. I’ve seen the first two episodes, and so far, it’s about black love in a society whose power is waged against it, yet it comes through somehow. It’s about real black people somehow maintaining black love even when the nigguh shows up. It’s about Nigguh love. Intelligent, beautiful, frustrating shaped in the fires Nigguh love. Love that somehow survived the United States post 1619. Love that maintains itself in the midst of our own bullshit and self-sabotage. The love that maintains itself even behind bars. Love that endures. Look I’m no TV critic nor do I have pretensions of being one. But I’m feeling this show in a major way.

The Pre-Season is on! I am borderline manic about the upcoming can’t get here soon enough NBA season. When you get older you appreciate the present more. You don’t know how many more generations of players you have time to see. That said, I believe we’re in store for one of the greatest NBA seasons in my lifetime.

Look I know we love to romanticize the glorious NBA past. But I remember. For all of the 80s and most of the 90s, going into any given season only two to three teams had any legitimate shot at winning a title. The Magic/ Kareem Lakers and Bird/McCale Celtics rivalry was historic, and the Moses/ Doctor Sixers and the Isaiah Pistons memorably broke through, but name one other truly contending team from that era. Name one other dominant team to rival the Jordan era Bulls. Going into 2014, the Spurs, Cavs, Bulls, Thunder, and Clippers have a legitimate shot. The Griz, Warriors, Mavs (because Carlisle is the ju ju man), and maybe the Wiz have a shot. The Pelicans and the Raptors could take a leap and make things interesting. This is a great season to be a NBA aficionado. Should be a refreshing tonic.

By the way, I do acknowledge that should LeBron and his wolf cubs mature and become fully realized predators earlier than expected; a real possibility given the genius team-focused nature of LeBron’s game, the frightening real possibility that Irving could become a once in a generation point guard, the real deal skills Love brings to the party, and the potential development of the other wolf cubs, Waiters and Tristan Thomas: I may have to eat the previous paragraph and proclaim the coming of Cav’s era. I mean LeBron in an actual offensive system with an array of weapons at his disposal. Oh my God.

A look at the other contenders:

San Antonio Spurs: Duncan is done. Ginobili is finished. Parker continues to be Parker. The Spurs time era is over. Opps…how did predictions from 5 seasons ago make it into this? The Pops machine rolls on!

Oklahoma City Thunder: OKC appears ready to take a leap and take out the Spurs. OKC is going to be the most fun in-trouble team over the next 8 or so weeks. Westbrook is unstoppable and nuts. Westbrook is Neutron Man. Be afraid…very afraid… of Neutron Man. Westbrook about to make opposing guards his bitches. And they have a little more bench help this year. Look out when KD comes back fresh and rounds into shape for a push toward a title.

My beloved Bulls….I go back to the days of Van Lier, Sloan, Butterbean, and my main man Chet Walker… are….interesting. How do Gasol and Noah…two brilliant high post passing bigs, neither exactly automatic from 15-18ft…exactly work together. I mean while you have Butler giving you little reliable offense. Why oh why hasn’t he developed a corner three?! Why?! Why!? Who is the go to scorer? Pau maybe? Other, of course than Rose…But you need another option for when Bron shuts down Rose with 2mins left in game seven. The Bulls have me thinking in championship terms again. But who is the go to scorer other than smallest players. Which means they will be asking a lot from the new Bulls, McDermott and Mirotic, as well as

Dunleavy. Simple truth, of course given Rose and Noah can stay healthy, is that if those three can hit open shots and play some team D, the Bulls should be right there at the end. But that is a lot to ask.

LA Clippers: Time for Ubutu!!! Doc Rivers has what he needs to get it done. I thought Blake Griffith was the third best player in the league last year. Can he take another step? What if his jumper starts dropping at late Karl Malone percentages. Yikes. Mr. Paul, your destiny is calling! And Mr. Crawford…you just keep on balling! If they win it all, Doc should get into the Hall of Fame for…Behold Doc’s creation…DeAndre Jordan!!! (btw, I LOVE Hawes as backup, fourth quarter option, big man).

The Golden State Warriors: Let me see…um….I can go to New York and live in a triangle of dysfunctional basketball and Bargnani, or I can go coach a loaded team, especially when Bogat is healthy and actually enjoying himself a little, the greatest shooting backcourt in NBA history, a defensive stopper in Iggy, and a host of nifty odds and ends. They could catch fire, especially if Thompson takes another step and Barnes discovers himself. Mrs. Kerr did not marry a fool.

The outside shots:

The Memphis Grizzles: Marc Gasol is a wizard! Marc Gasol is a wizard! The Griz have lots of players I like (Conley, Randolph, Vince Carter the all-time member of the got-a-clue-too-late-for-it-to-really-matter-club, Tony Allen, etc.), but none I really love. But still, a couple of key injuries (KD sigh) at key times and Memphis could be right there.

The Dallas Mavericks: Rick Carlyle is a wizard! Rick Carlyle is a wizard! As one of one person on the face of the earth who picked the Mavs to beat the Heat back in ’11, I have nothing but fascination and love for the Coach. Chandler should fit nicely. Nice backcourt. Getting Chandler was nice. Nice squad maximized by a genius coach.

The New Orleans Pelicans: Calling all earthlings. The Mothership has returned and brought a gift from the outer expanses of the known universe. He seems benign but he will take over, leaving mass graves and destroyed franchises in his wake. His teammates just have to stay friggin healthy. Asik doing the heavy lifting on rim D. Ryan Anderson long range missiles. Jrue Holliday emerging from the cocoon. The Gordan/ Evans monster slashing defenses in the gut. All in support of the coming destroyer of worlds. Run for your lives!

The Washington Wizards: The Wiz might just be at their ceiling. The question being is that the ceiling to a championship contending structure? Wall is an occasional spectacle but he still has holes in his game. Beal is the real deal. Paul Pierce is one of my all-time favorite players. He’s got an advantage: he’s always had an old man’s game. Now he’s an old man…how could he not age gracefully?

The Toronto Raptors: My puncher’s chance team. Lots of breaking out talent. DeRozan is close to being a very significant player. Ditto Lowry. The play of the big man, Valanciunas will determine how far they can go.

I got to go back to work. I’ll get to the other teams next time.

And my brothers and sisters…if any of you, especially my church going mosque going practitioners of the rich spiritual culture of my people, were offended by any of this…that’s is cool. Talk about it. Don’t argue. I have resolved myself to argue with nobody. Let’s talk about it. In the barbershop’s, salons, taverns, porches, and of course churches. Let’s love ourselves into real talk. Soul talk. Let’s love ourselves through survivor’s remorse. We have to be real to keep it real.

Peace to the world. Powers love y’all.

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