What do I want changed in the NBA this season? Let me count the ways.
On the top of the list, of course, is getting rid of the ‘rona. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused nearly 2 million deaths (and counting) and decimated the world’s economy, but in the context of sports, the NBA in particular, the modern-day plague has wrought havoc in the NBA last season and the current season, which is its 75th and diamond year.
I get it. The NBA is a business and has obligations to its broadcasting partners and team owners. However, the Orlando bubble worked just fine, thank you, and it boggles the mind why the association didn’t opt to just duplicate the bubble in several satellite sites for the 2020-2021 season.
Just this week, the Miami Heat game against the Boston Celtics last Sunday was postponed for “health and safety protocols” and yesterday two more matches — the New Orleans Pelicans vs the Dallas Mavericks and the aforementioned Celtics vs the Chicago Bulls — were sidelined due to Covid-19 concerns.
If it’s too late to recreate the magical bubble in Mickey Mouse’s playground, the NBA should consider expanding team rosters to at least 25 from the current 15. This will assure teams will have warm bodies to suit up in games when half of its roster is under Covid-19 protocol. I know the quality will suck, but at least there are still games and who knows teams with solid developmental programs like the Heat, the San Antonio Spurs, and the Toronto Raptors may unearth a diamond in the rough or two during such circumstances.
I also want the James Harden trade drama to end. Obviously, the Houston Rockets would’ve to trade The Beard at some point but must understand that like any disgruntled superstar, you can only expect to get pennies to a dollar in such a scenario.
H-Town can only hope that Harden would bring back a king’s ransom ala-Anthony Davis going to the Lakers from the Pelicans two off-seasons ago or highway robbery the way Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak fleeced Pau Gasol from the Memphis Grizzlies back in 2010. But that’s not gonna happen, buddy, as Harden is such a polarizing player and teams getting him would’ve to rebuild their offensive and defensive philosophies from the ground up because of his sun-like gravitational pull.
I have an ulterior motive in wanting Harden finally shipped out of Houston. They may not admit it, but Miami hasn’t just been the same since chatter emerged that Pat Riley might land him the orca he always wanted in the person of Harden. Until his 31-point outburst against the woeful and depleted Washington Wizards, Tyler Herro was mired in a sophomore slump, obviously affected by rumors he would be the centerpiece in the swap for Harden. Herro in South Beach is a marriage made in basketball heaven (and a team-friendly rookie contact to boot) and no amount of 3-point traveling Heat anti-culture Harden would match that.
Another thing I want gone in the NBA this season are the playoff droughts of storied franchises the New York Knicks and Sacramento Kings. The last time the Knickerbockers reached the postseason was in 2013 when Ironman 3 was lording it over the box office. The Kings’ woes are longer as this season would mark 15 years since Sacramento played past the regular season. Just to give you an idea how long the Kings’ postseason drought has been, the Top 3 mobile phones in 2006 were the Nokia E61, BlackBerry Pearl 8100, and Motorola MING A1200. That’s ancient mobile phone history for all iPhone and Android users.
Last but certainly not the least, I would love Lavar Ball to just pipe down and let his sons — LaMelo and Lonzo — play, well, ball. Everybody knows the Ball brothers can hoop and they don’t need dad acting like a snake oil salesman to convince everyone.
At this point, LaMelo seems more ahead of the curve than older brother Lonzo as proven by his recent triple-double of 22 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists in the victory against the Atlanta Hawks.
It’s clear Lonzo still hasn’t gotten over being traded by his hometown Lakers after Magic Johnson all but anointed him the franchise’s next superstar. Perhaps, New Orleans should trade for LaMelo (fat chance, Michael Jordan wouldn’t do it unless he loses to Lavar one-on-one) and pick up LiAngelo from the scrapheap (No G-League team drafted him), so they can finally “unlock” Lonzo’s otherworldly basketball talents.
Mark Rabago is a former reporter at The Manila Times. He has continued his journalism career abroad but remains a true-blue NBA and PBA fan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.