In case you had not noticed, the NBA regular season is about 10-games old; at the moment the Sixers, Celtics, Nuggets and Mavs have the best records with 8 wins; the Grizzlies, Pistons and Wizards have the worst records with only two wins. The inaugural NBA Cup – – the in-season tournament concept the league is trying out to give some meaning to these early season games – – is also underway and the 10 games on the NBA calendar for tonight are “Tournament Games”.
I have said here for years that it is difficult to get excited about early season NBA basketball games simply because the players do not exude excitement about those games. If you watch NBA playoff games, you can see and feel the intensity of the game and the energy expended by the players in those games. Those elements are missing from most NBA games in November and the absence makes the November games less compelling.
It is easy to tell when you are watching an in-season tournament game this year – – but not because there has been an injection of intensity and energy. Those elements remain the same. It is easy to tell a tournament game because someone had the dumb idea to play the games on “specially designed courts”. Here is the translation for “specially designed courts”:
- Bold/loud color schemes painted onto the court so that none of the traditional wood grain is showing.
- A large swath of color runs lengthwise on the court from baseline to baseline and at the center jump circle, there is an image of the NBA Cup which will be presented to the tournament winner.
- It is as if the league wasn’t sure viewers would know they were watching a tournament game, so they effected an assault on viewers’ optic nerves.
Two other items related to the NBA regular season so far in 2023:
- Victor Wembnyama has been “as advertised”. With all the focus on Wemby, there may not have been sufficient attention paid to Chet Holmgren’ s play so far. Like Wemby, he is “long and lean” and in the Thunder’s 10 games to date, Holmgren has shot 55% from the field, 50% from e-point range and 90% from the free throw line.
- Ever since James Harden whined his way out of Philly and into LA, the Clippers have played 5 games and lost every one of them.
Moving on … Here in Pennsylvania, lots of folks are getting ready for deer hunting season; the season is set by law (it starts the Saturday after Thanksgiving) and people plan significant portions of their life around it. Much more subtlely, there is another “hunting season” that starts in November – – but it has no fixed starting date, and it happens – – because it happens. I refer here to football teams hunting for new head coaches. The season is open at the NFL level with one coach having been already fired and it is now open at the major college level with the firing of Jimbo Fisher (Texas A&M) and Zach Arnett (Mississippi St.).
There are too many college coaches who are on a short leash at this point in the season to enumerate/analyze, but in the NFL, there is a much smaller universe to consider. So, here are two NFL head coaches who might need to be concerned about their job security – – in addition to the ones I mentioned back in early September as predictions for the NFL 2023 season:
- Brian Daboll (Giants): Yes, the Giants have been hammered by injuries – – particularly at QB – – but the team has been non-competitive too many times so far this season. And yes, I do recall that Daboll was Coach of the Year just last year. I still think he needs to find a way to change the vector heading the team seems to be on.
- Arthur Smith (Falcons): The Falcons are a mediocre team at best no matter who the coach is. But I think there is reason for Smith to be wary when CBSSports.com has an article today with a headline that says, “Falcons not firing Arthur Smith anytime soon.”
Switching gears … There seems to be a lot of sniping and complaining on the Internet about Al Michaels’ performance doing play-by-play for Thursday Night Football. Some fans say he is low energy and that he is just mailing it in to collect his “fee” for doing the games and that he no longer cares about broadcasting. I would accuse those folks of “mind reading without a license”. I will not pretend to be able to know what is going on in Al Michaels’ head, but I can tell you what I observe when I listen to him and Kirk Herbstreit call a game on Thursday night.
- I hear the two of them present the game on the field without hysteria. And frankly, that is a positive turn of events from my perspective. Far too many other play-by-play guys turn up the volume for anything more than a four-yard gain in the first quarter.
- From my perspective, the Michaels/Herbstreit duo seem to have defined their combined role as presenting the game in a measured environment rather than a hyperventilated environment.
Finally, John Simon was the drama critic for New York Magazine where he earned the moniker “the Vicar of Vitriol”. He often presented scathing descriptions of actresses in his reviews; here is one about Barbra Streisand:
“Miss Streisand looks like a cross between an aardvark and an albino rat surmounted by a platinum-colored horse bun. Though she has good eyes and a nice complexion, the rest of her is a veritable anthology of disaster areas. Her speaking voice seems to have graduated from the Brooklyn Conservatory of Yentaism and her acting consists entirely of fishily thrusting out her lips, sounding like a cabbie bellyaching at breakneck speed, and throwing her weight around.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………