Thursday, October 6, 2016

The NBA Sucks This Year or: Bucks Forest's 2017 League Pass Rankings

As the patina of Wisconsin begins to turn a lovely reddish-brown, so too does Zach Lowe of ESPN release his 2017 NBA League Pass rankings.  It's an autumn tradition on par with warm apple pie and my trying to fit into the Flipper Anderson replica jersey that my grandma bought me in 1989.

Also an annual tradition is me rolling my eyes and shouting ineffectually into cyberspace about the order of Zach Lowe's rankings.  But it's a new season, I'm trying to grow and it's just tacky to pick apart the words of those with larger followings than you.

So, instead of rambling on about his annoying affection for the Celtics uniforms or his indefensible aggrandizement of Anthony "Heir to 'Out of Service' Pervis" Davis, I'll take the high road.  I'll simply post a list of teams that Bucks fans might want to watch on NBA League Pass, or some other legitimate, super-legal streaming service for out-of-market NBA games.

1. Milwaukee Bucks


But there is a reason why I want to mention Bucks fans watching the Bucks.  The NBA has become a provincial League in many ways.  Like with baseball, fans like to watch their own team play.  Unlike with football, NBA fans are becoming less and less interested in games that don't involve their team (unless the team on TV features Steph Curry).

Which brings us to number two:

2. Golden State Warriors

Another "Duh".

The Dubs are an absolute lead pipe cinch to win the Title.  They are the greatest basketball team ever assembled; better than the 1992 Dream Team.  They would have pants'd the Dream Team.  Space Jam may never have happened if Steph & Company were born in 1966.

This may sound like trolling or exaggeration or whatever, but it's 100% Shoot, brother (that's a pro wrestling term).  They are too talented, too smart and they enjoy playing with each other (*ahem*) too much.

I know I said I wouldn't talk about Mr. Lowe because he writes to a bigger audience than I do and it's taken when small aud writers attack big aud writers and all of that, but I have to.  He compared the Cavs -- the 'Luckiest NBA Champion in NBA History, Possibly' Cavs --  to this Warriors team.

Now, I realize that the Cavs were the recipients of an NBA Title in which they "beat" the Dubs in the Finals last season.  And I realize that LeBron James is a media infatuation non-pareil.  But come on.  They play a bunch of iso-ball, they clutch and grab instead of playing defense and they don't even seem like they're having fun together.  They suck.  I'd be fine never watching them again.  Bucks fans can feel free to ignore them.

3. Minnesota Timberwolves



Man, I love KATs (Karl-Anthony Towns).  The guy has a great nickname, he seems like a cool dude and he is a freaking freak of nature on the basketball court.

Oh, my gosh you should watch more KATs.  He is so slick on O, so savvy on D (like, Larry Sanders 2012-13 savvy) and he has taken the worst trend in nicknames (the lazy, "let's just use this guy's initials" nicknames) and turned it COOL.

KATs.  It just so cool.

There's also Rudio, who's nice.  And Thibs, who's a maniac.  And a bunch of overrated young bums, many of whom played college basketball for the scandal-ridden program called the UCLA Bruins.

But tune in for KATs.  He's a baller and he'll be around for a long time.

4. Brooklyn Nets

Ah hah!  The reason that I felt compelled to respond to Mr. Lowe.

He had the Nets 30th.  Last!!  How dare he.

The 2017 Brooklyn Nets are the NBA's sleeper team.  Kenny Atkinson will win Coach of the Year (because media members give coach of the year to the coach of the team that media members were most wrong about at the start of the season), Brook Lopez or Jeremy Lin will win Most Improved (because media members give most improves to the player that media members were more wrong about at the start of the season) and Sean Marks will win Executive of the Year (because media members blahblahblah you get the point).  This team is actually good.  And they'll play an attractive style.

But, still: Why the Nets?  Other teams are good.  Other teams play an attractive style.  Why should Bucks fans watch the Nets when there are 26 over teams (including the bum Cavs) available on NBA League Pass?

One: The Nets will compete for a Playoff spot.

The Bucks are also competing for a Playoff spot, so that's makes the Nets a natural rival.  Cross off the Western Conference from your League Pass list, because none of those teams compete with the Bucks for a Playoff spot.

Two: The Nets don't have any overrated, has-been "stars".

Overrated, has-been stars are only fun when they play for your team.  I absolutely LOVED watching Robin Yount pursue 3,000 hits.  It was fantastic.  However, I have a hard time believing that, say, a Twins fan enjoyed watching "The Kid" plink and plunk opposite field singles over the second baseman's head.  Those types of guys are ANNOYING.

D-Wade, you're out.  Carmelo, you're out.  LeBron (even though you amazingly made up for your slightly diminished athletic ability by becoming a superlatively accurate passer last year), you're out.  Even guys like Paul George, who stretch the definition of "star", are not particularly fun to watch.

Three: The Nets have my favorite announce team.

Ever wonder what happened to "The Czar of the Telestrator" Mike Fratello?  He's alive and well on Nets broadcasts!  And he's paired with Ian Eagle, who is arguably my favorite play-by-play man in any sport today.  (Why would a personal preference like "my favorite" require the adverb "arguably"?  I don't know.  It reminds me of Ric Flair's WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which was INARGUABLY one of my favorite live events I've ever been to.)

Hell is sitting through a telecast captained by Boston's broadcast team.  Or Orlando's.  Or Philly's or DC's or Detroit's.  The NBA season is long and monotonous, and by the end you're glad it's over.  Same with those teams' (and others') local broadcasts.

Being the fair and forthcoming broadcast journalist that I am, I will give special notice to the broadcast teams of the Raptors, Knicks and Bugs.  They are all quite good.

5. Houston Rockets

I could give a crap about the team.  They'll probably be better without Dwight.  D'Antoni is probably the perfect coach for Harden.  Capela is probably the most underrated center in the League.

But this is all about their hilariously bad broadcast team of Bill Worrell, Matt Bullard and Clyde Drexler.

Bill Worrell is a classic local sports homer.  He gets frustrated with bad play and he thinks refs are unfair to the local star, James Harden (of all people).  He's excited when the team wins and he usually takes a glass-half-full approach.

The comedy comes from Clyde and Bullard.  Bullard takes his job seriously.  He does his research and it feels like he would like to get a shot at national broadcasts some day.  Clyde, on the other hand, is all about having fun.  He's an all time great Houston basketball player (three Final Four appearances [yes, THREE] for the Houston Cougars and an NBA Championship with the Houston Rockets) and he comes off as a jovial, good natured guy.  He clearly has no intention whatsoever of improving as a broadcaster, however.  And the dynamic of the ambitious former journeyman looking to make a name for himself and the satiated local legend often leads to the type of unintentional comedy rarely seen from modern sports broadcasting.

Sadly, last season may have been the peak for unintentional Rockets broadcast comedy.  The season was a massive disappointment, the coach was fired early, the interim coach was in over his head and the team had obvious, major chemistry issues.  It was as beautiful for lovers of unintentional NBA broadcast comedy as this season's Warriors team will be for lovers of blowout victories.  This season the Rockets aught to be good, and if that happens the team's NBA League Pass ranking will plummet.

6. Nobody

Who else is worth watching?  They all do the same crap: lots of PnR and three chuckin'.  None of them have interesting stars.  Westbrook's a ball hog.  Kawhi is great on D, which is only fun during the Playoffs, Kristaps plays outside too much. Chris Paul is an annoying ass and Blake lost his smile. Dirk?  Old.  Lillard?  I'm sick of PnR.  Boogie?  I like him but the Kings are probably bad again.  DeRozan & Lowry?  I like DeRozan because he's a Trojan, I guess.

It's a bad League this season.  We know who the Champion's going to be, most of the other teams aren't all that interesting, and the Young Prime generation of stars (John Wall, Anthony Davis, Kyrie, Drummond) all are personality-free AAU types.  They can do their own thing, but none of them play a good team game.

So, enjoy the Bucks and their underdog Playoff run (hopefully), enjoy the Warriors ruthless march to the Championship (unfortunately) and enjoy watching re-runs of The Larry Sanders Show on HBOGo.  It'll be a whole heck of a lot better than this NBA season.

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