Day 1 of the season. Oh how I’ve waited for you. The endless months spent in anticipation, the speculation about the flashy new rookies, the desperate need for another NBA game to wipe away the foul memories of last year’s Finals series. Yes, the best eight months of the year have started, and here’s what I’ve already learnt from day 1.
1. The Rockets are in trouble if they can barely scrape past the Lakers
Everybody knows the Lakers were entering this game as a disharmonised rabble. Kobe trade rumours, Kobe-Bynum feuding, Jerry Buss pulling his crap, Odom injured, Kobe injured, etc. They are a mess. But here is the positive for Laker’s fans – they can’t get worse. Things can’t get more disharmonised (unless Kobe leaves), Bynum can’t get more hurt from Kobe’s verbal lashings, Jerry Buss can’t pull any more crap (unless Kobe leaves), Odom can’t get more injured, and neither can Kobe. They are at rock bottom, and despite all this, despite Kobe’s mood swings, and despite the ridiculous fact that Ronny Turdiaf actually makes the starting line up for an NBA basketball team, they almost beat the much-hyped Houston Rockets on day 1. Mark my words Houston. If you have trouble getting past the Lakers on day 1 when they are lower than Ben Cousins on a Monday morning, you will find it mighty difficult to get past them when they sort out all their shit.
2. Boozer and DW might be the best 1-2 combo in the league
What about KG and Pierce/Allen I hear? Or Nash and Amare? Or Shaq and Wade? Or Kobe and Turdiaf? Keep in mind that Boozer and DW went further than any of those guys last year, and they will only be better this season. Better because DW is verging on superstar level and will crack my Top 5 Point Guard list by January if he keeps this up. Better because Boozer is getting used to playing with him. Better because AK47’s bitching sessions seem to be behind them. And better because they know they’re a team capable of reaching the Western Conference Finals again. Just when I thought the Jazz were a grind-it-out team they go and whoop the Warriors – kings of the high-scoring game – 117-96. If the up-tempo game is another weapon Sloan has added to their arsenal they will be quite a formidable team come May. For the record, I still put Nash and Amare as the best 1-2 combo in the league but their title is seriously under threat if the Boozer-DW train keeps choogling along like this.
3. The Spurs are still good
There was just the tiniest chance, the tiniest probability that maybe, just maybe.. on Ring night the Spurs would inexplicably stumble to the soon-to-be-bottom-of-the-West Portland Trailblazers causing me to laugh most hysterically and satisfactorily as I stuff myself with Krispy Kremes on the couch. But no. As predicable as Timmy Robot’s 15-footers hitting off glass, the Spurs methodically starved off an enthusiastic Blazers squad for a typically predictable, methodical, Spurs win. “We played a very talented team, a very young team. I think they’re going to be pretty good,” Parker said. Translation: “We played a crap team that has a bit of potential, a very crap team. I think they are going to be pretty crap”.
4. What the hell did I use to do between the hours of 10am and 3pm?
They may seem like odd hours to any one else, but to an Aussie those are the prime-time hours of NBA action. Those are the hours you spend endlessly Alt-tabbing at the office between your spreadsheet and nba.com. Those are the hours you’re constantly distracted from studying for your uni exams because you just never know how many points Kobe is going to score in the next quarter, I mean… you just don’t. He might go off for 15, or 20… or 30…right? That’s not worth missing is it? IS IT?!?
5. Kobe Bryant is still the most dangerous player in the league
Yeah yeah don’t read too much into one game, I know all that. But Kobe’s 45 point outburst on day 1 proved he’s still the most dangerous player in the game for a few reasons:
a) As mentioned in 1 above he’s had one of the most eventful and turbulent off-seasons any player has ever had in NBA history. I don’t know if Kobe’s ever been more unsettled, even during the rape case. But what happens? He comes out firing (albeit misfiring a fair amount) and takes over down the stretch to nearly snatch an unlikely victory. It’s like he’s 50 games into the season already. He hasn’t lost a step. He’s still the most lethal scorer in the league. And he’s only getting started (oh yeah, and he’s supposed to be injured).
b) He scored 45 and it barely caused anyone to blink. Think about this. How many huge scoring efforts do you remember on a day 1? I can’t think of any, and that probably means there aren’t any, because when someone drops 45 or 50 on day 1 it tends to stick in your brain. If this was Lebron or Wade, could you imagine the headlines? “Lebron makes history: scores 45 in season opener” or “Heeee’s back! Wade drops 45 in statement game“ or something along those lines. In fact, those guys scoring 45 in any game is a big deal. Kobe does it and you know what the headline is? “Rockets survive late surge for win”. That’s all you need to know. When a dude drops 45 on the first day of the season and can’t get his name in the freakin headline, there is some serious shit going down.
c) He had 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals to go with it. That is massive. I will personally notify all you TrashTalk readers of any game in which a player goes 45pts-8rebs-4ass-4stls for the rest of the season. I will celebrate each occasion with a new blog and a $10 donation to the Save a Dolphin Foundation. I guarantee you that happens like two or three times max this season, if at all, and they will probably all be from KB24.
Here’s looking to day two. I love this game.