This was one of the bigger moments in recent NBA history: The time when our latest hope for "The Next Jordan" actually did something MJ would have done. Like so many other die-hards, I spent the next 24 hours rehashing the moment through phone calls and e-mails and texts. This wasn't about hype, or blowing things out of proportion, or racing to put the proper context in place before everything else. This was just a beautiful moment, one of those nights that made us remember why we waste so much time following sports.
Two nights later, Cleveland and Orlando played an unspeakably awful game that featured a whopping 58 fouls. All the momentum from Game 2 was gone. Here was the new NBA in its new age of unadulterated impurity: Teams hoisting bad 3-pointers, referees trying to "manage" the game and failing, players going one-on-five, stoppages again and again and again, free throws and more free throws, more stoppages, more mismanaging by the refs ... by the time it was over, I wanted to commit a flagrant one on myself. The two teams combined to attempt 96 2-point field goals, 43 3-pointers and a staggering 86 free throws. In other words, there were nearly nine free throws for every 10 2-point field goal attempts. Egads. The next night, Los Angeles and Denver combined to play a similarly brutal game: 113 2-point attempts, 55 3-pointers, 84 free throws. Yuck.
You might argue this happens every playoffs: We bitch about bad calls or choppy games and nothing ever changes. But this spring feels different for two reasons. First, the NBA can't seem to replenish its officiating ranks. 1937, 1939, 1943, 1944, 1947, 1948, 1950, 1951, 1951, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1955 ... those are the actual birth years of 13 current referees. In professional sports, athletes slip from the ages of 34 to 39 unless they extend their stay with PEDs. In the NBA, in which officials are required to run or jog for 150 minutes and make split-second decisions on hundreds of plays, we're expected to believe that the aging process doesn't apply. And if you believe that, I have some Bernie Madoff stock tips for you.
Long list of players are available this summer.
Mock draft ... do you like the Bulls' projected picks?
Draft prospects in working out Chicago.