Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Let's Shift Our Attention to the Round Ball!

(Editor's Note: This first appeared in the sports section of Howard University's daily newspaper, The Hilltop, on October 27, 2008. However, here...well, it appears unedited (*full length too long to fit in paper*). Enjoy!)

Greetings, my fellow Americans.

In less than two weeks, we will embark on an historic journey. The road will be filled with a myriad of twists and turns, some anticipating showdowns, and even a few highlights. Heck, history's about to take place in 2008, and I'm glad to be one of many writers detailing this year's significance.

And I'm not just talking about the race between Barack Obama and John McCain for the White House.

Sure, on the night of November 4th, both presidential nominees will be squirming in their seats, waiting as the final ballots are counted in hotly contested battleground states like Ohio and Florida. However, days before either man graces the podium to accept the presidency and lead America for the next four years, I'll be watching an jealous Stephon Marbury stare at the Garden hardwood with a towel draped over his shoulders as Chris Duhon runs an improved New York Knicks offense, waiting for his opportunity to throttle Mike DiAntoni as he paces the sidelines. I can't wait to see Ernie Grunfeld, general manager of the Washington Wizards, watch his inept offense from the executive suite while downing cases of Amstel Light, refusing to believe that his 120 million dollar man - Gilbert Arenas - is slowly becoming this generation's version of Allan Houston.

Ready or not....the NBA season is upon us.

Trust me, you're not the only one that forgot about the NBA season. Somehow, I got blindsided worse than Nancy Kerrigan's knee at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in 1994. Honestly, I have no excuse. I was too busy trying to come to terms with the idea that Chicago's Kyle Orton (1,669 passing yards, 10 TD) is having a statisically better season than Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts (1,531 yards, 8 TD's). Seriously, I'm not quite ready to live in a football world devoid of an operational Tom Brady, or a world that has watched Marvin Harrison make his 'return to normalcy', or a world that has been forced to see Chad Ocho Cinco continue to play with the name 'Johnson' still affixed to the back of his jersey. I was tricked into believing that this NFL season would continue exactly where the Super Bowl ended in February, giving its fans even greater epic feats and broken records. Instead, fans have been seduced into watching the mediocre Kerry Collins lead a undefeated but boring Titans team and wince as Emmitt Smith continues to get 'debacled' and trip over multi-syllabic words. (Emmitt, let's not dance around it any longer...you're just not cut out for work as an NFL analyst. We'll see you in Canton in about two years, buddy.) Let's just hope that some NBA action can ultimately save sports fans from watching this dreadful football season.

Since I'm already convinced that this season's going to be fan-tastic, I've decided to hand out a few awards in advance to some NBA personnel so you can avoid watching them during this upcoming season. Let's just agree to get rid of these nuisances before they ruin our enjoyment of basketball. Plus, now I can avoid giving irrational predictions in this column, like suggesting a Knicks/Warriors final. I'm just saying...

LVP (Least Valuable Player): Vince 'Wince' Carter
Did you know that Vince Carter posted a 24-5-4 clip last year? Wow. Well, now that the Nets are officially gathering funds for the Lebron James sweepstakes in 2010, you can guarantee that Vince (now 30 years old) will shut it down, sign his paychecks, and take fadeaway jumpers for the entire season. He's definitely a guy that I can see in another uniform by February's trade deadline.
Worst Coach of the Year: Larry Brown
I love the fact that GM Michael Jordan decided to pair Larry Brown, a coach known to hate using young players, with a team completely filled with young talent. If you even get the crazy notion that watching the Charlotte Bobcats play this year might be enjoyable, don't be afraid to walk to the health clinic to ask for help. Remember, denial is the first step that people take to overcome tragedy.

Psuedo-Rookie of the Year: Russell Westbrook
Honestly, I think that Westbrook can be a solid player once he understands that being a point guard in the NBA means that he can't take every available jumper on the floor. I'm not convinced that he got the opportunity to gain much point guard experience in college. (By the way, Clay Bennett, those NBA fans you hear outside your window aren't booing, they're saying...no wait, they're booing. Thanks for stealing Seattle's team.)

Least Improved Player: Eddy Curry
When I heard that Eddy Curry snapped the training staff's medicine ball during a workout this offseason, I immediately doubled over with laughter. This is the guy that we expect to benefit from the implementation of the fastbreak offense? Great.

Before casting your ballot in this historic election, get ready for some basketball history to be made.

We're talking about the NBA, where amazing happens.
-Mike "TTK" Benjamin

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