Roundtable Extravaganza: "Nobody Understands Previews."

Gothic Ginobili turns one today. As part of our celebration of this somewhat unexpected milestone, our writers are producing a variety of content reflecting and appreciating the journey that got us here. Also, evidently, we're publishing a semi-preview roundtable where our writers participate in a new style of roundtable where the questions are made up and our points don't matter. We're revolutionaries. Maybe.

#1: What is a new perspective you'd like to bring to your NBA viewing experience in this new season?

Adam Koscielak (@AdamKoscielak): I have no idea. I know that I have to expand my analytical sense. Perhaps root out the irrational ideas I have at time, and focus on the rational ones. Or perhaps the other way around. We’ll see when the season gets here, I guess.

Jacob Harmon (@jharm71): Recently I find myself trying to focus a lot more on the background elements of the game. Obviously there’s a tendency to ball-watch or star-watch, and you try to take in all the aspects of the play, but I’ve developed a weird habit of watching stuff that isn’t even in the play. Sometimes stuff that’s not even on the floor. What kind of faces is Daequan Cook making in the corner? What sort of weird kids are on the sidelines? How close IS Rick Carlisle to having a stroke? This is the valuable sort of analysis I want to bring to the table. Hire me, Daryl.

Alex Arnon (@Alex_Arnon): I don’t know, man. I’m as much of a surface fan as they get really. I guess I could make some really primo puns on some player’s names or somehow relate [insert obscure NBA player here] to Waka Flocka Flame -- I feel like I have a deeper understanding of irrelevant trap music artists than most typical long-form NBA blog readers (read: white people). I’ll leave the actual intelligent analysis up to you actually intelligent people.

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#2: Name one player you'll pay an absolutely unreasonable amount of attention to in the coming season. Then pretend that teams are people and name a team.

Adam: Aside from Marcin Gortat and the Suns? Jonas Valanciunas and the Raptors. This team has playoff potential many people fail to see, and Jonas is a big guy with a ton of promise. Whatever happens with them, it should be fun.

Jacob: Obviously I’ll be lavishly taking in as many OKC games as possible and talking about our Big Four (Three? Man, I hope this post doesn’t come back to haunt me in a few days) to anyone who will listen. Of the Four, I’m really going to be obsessing over Ibaka’s evolving offensive game. He seemed to improve dramatically and looks to come in with a ton of confidence on the offensive end. Other than OKC, I’m bandwagoning the Bobcats this season. Despite the misteps, stumbles, faceplants, and uninspiring baby steps, I really want to see them succeed. I’ll be watching MKG pretty closely, especially after I ranted about T-Rob being the better pick and have thus far looked like an idiot for doing so. I’m a cult of Jordan guy, I want to see him vindicated, and Charlotte really needs any enthusiasm they can get, so I’ll be watching and scanning for any signs of optimism. Those guys don’t need another cynical outsider telling them they’re doomed. Go Bobcats!

Arnon: I’ll be honest - I don’t get over emotional trauma like a rational human being. Whether zzzit [sic] be something insightful/hilarious/not-completely-embarrassing I could’ve said in a conversation or an all-too-brief encounter that I could’ve elongated with an all-too-beautiful member of the female persuasion, I like to reminisce on what could’ve been and what hopefully might be. So it’s in this vein that I’m going to watch Daryl Morey’s Frankenstein-ish monster of innumerable power forwards try to make it work with my one true love Jeremy Lin. I’ll be superimposing the face of Amar’e Stoudemire on Royce White’s sweet cuts late at night after a few too many glasses of wine. I’ll be hoping that Jeremy Lamb takes an ill-advised double-teamed jumper after a few too many jab steps in an attempt to see how Melo would’ve wasted Lin’s drive-and-dishes. I’ll be crying after the Rockets improbably make the 8th seed in the west while James Dolan laughs at me from his throne of plutocracy as the Knicks undergo their customary crash and burn.

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#3: What do you want to say now that you will be peer-pressured away from saying on Twitter and the like, but this is a CONSTRUCTIVE ENVIRONMENT, AND FOR ONCE, I WILL NOT BE SHOUTED DOWN, I'm just going to say it once, okay, and then we can all figure out what it means? Get it off your chest. Relaaax.

Adam: Michael Beasley is not as bad as we think. I’ve watched him in the preseason, he’s made some mistakes, but mostly he’s shown some real smarts I didn’t expect to see. Way too often Twitter finds itself hung up in old memes, and heads out to biblical proportions of self-proof to make sure that they prove you wrong. “Mike Beasley is playing solid basketball? Well, it’s only the preseason.” can quickly turn to “Hahahah, I told you so.” Unless he stays as a solid-to-good wing for the entire season, they will harp on him for every bad shot. Because he’s Michael Beasley. The dude’s only been in the league four years now, he’s changed teams three times. And he has his fourth head coach and system to learn now. Schadenfreude is fun, but it’s much more fun when it’s an established veteran with the boneheaded plays (looking at you, Jamal Crawford)

Jacob: I’m with Adam on the Beas, for what it’s worth. The guy has got a lot of talent and great physical tools, and I think the “headcase” thing gets blown out of proportion to the extent that it overshadows him as a player. I still think he can be a decent wing given the right situation; I believe in the Beas. Other than him, I’m going to say I’m on the DeMarcus Cousins bandwagon. I think his characterization as such a young player of his caliber has been entirely unfair, and that much of the locker room problems in Sacramento stemmed from Paul Westphal, who demonstrably was willing to throw the guy under the bus to save his own skin. He’s never going to be the charming golden boy, but I don’t think there’s enough Rondos and Cousins in the league who have both the unashamed chip on their shoulder and the game to back it up. A lot of guys with one or the other, but not enough with both. It’s fun. The guy can play. He’s been in the league two seasons and he’s putting up 18 and 11, which isn’t exactly easy even if your efficiency isn’t stellar. People need to get off his back a little bit before the dude snaps and kills Jerry Colangelo.

Arnon: Teams like the Justice League Lakers and Super Friends Heat are making the NBA less enjoyable. Sure, you have your hidden gems like the Nuggets that are “fun” to watch but at it its core this is an extremely Gollum-esque league -- all these guys want and all the majority of fans care about is getting that ring (after their paychecks, of course). Perhaps it’s just an extension of us as Americans who only care about being the most powerful and very best like no one ever was (oh my god did I really just make a LoTR and Pokemon joke in the same paragraph please take me out back and put me down for my own good [Ed. Note -- No. Get back to the salt mines.]). When it’s a virtual certainty that the Heat will face either the Lakers or Thunder in the finals if they all remain healthy, my view on my Knicks goes from the usual pessimism to complete apathy. Why does it matter if we get the 4th or 8th seed when the only difference is that we lose to the Heat in the 2nd round instead of the 1st? I’ll try to find little nuggets of pure enjoyability from the NBA like a Tony Allen lockdown, Damian Lillard flash of promise, or Andre Miller flashback performance. But in a world where I’m slowly turning into an adult and becoming more burdened by the realities of real life I’m afraid that I’ll have less time for these small pleasures and that I’ll only care about the seemingly predetermined big picture.

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#4: What team is the ice cream of the NBA? What team is the smoked salmon of the NBA? Green tea? Go crazy with this one. 

Adam: The ice cream has to be the Denver Nuggets. Their speed is yummy, the flow of the offense is amazing and whenever you feel down about the status of the league, you can watch a whole big bucket of their buckets. When it comes to the salmon, here’s a fun story for you; I used to HATE salmon. Like, absolutely completely, totally hate it. Actually, I hated all fish but herring on some kind of irrational level. Then, one day, during a visit to my aunt and uncle, I was basically force-fed some of my uncle’s home-smoked salmon. I’ve loved salmon (as long as it was good, fresh, well smoked salmon, of course) ever since. So, for me, that’s the Miami Heat. I had an irrational dislike for them, categorizing them as an annoying superteam, but the truth is, that the Flying Death Machine is A TON of fun to watch. And if you tell me otherwise, you just hate smoked salmon. And that’s ok, you’ll like it one day too. And finally, green tea, calming, healthy, and polarizing. Some people love it, some people hate it. Personally, I love all tea, and some good green tea sometimes outranks black tea in my ratings. But, I understand people who don’t like it’s bitterness (I do not, however, understand people who sweeten green tea. You are all criminals to me), which doesn’t change the fact, I will never share their crazy viewpoint. Now, this team, for me, has to be the Suns. I love them, even though many people don’t. I love them because of their very particular taste, not in spite of it. You get my point here, right?

Jacob: Man, I’ve never had salmon or green tea, so I don’t really know what that means. I think you’ve gotta break down the ice cream of the NBA. What flavor are we talking here? If you’re talking ice cream flavors, it pretty much breaks down to vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. Everything else is just some mixture of those three, like a color wheel. The vanilla ice cream of the NBA has got to be the Minnesota Timberwolves. Plain, refreshing but not too exciting, they’re going to satisfy your sweet tooth but you’re not exactly going to write home about them. And there’s an awful lot of white dudes in that locker room. Even Brandon Roy is more milk chocolate than anything. I know the blogs and Twitter have squeezed every bit of commentary possible out of how white this Timberwolves team is, but does anyone remember last season, when the Lakers fielded a starting lineup with like three white guys on it? I think there was a feature on ESPN. Whoever wrote that piece should be hopping the first flight to Minneapolis. Anyway, the vanilla Timberwolves, for the trifecta of game, skin color, and icy precipitation. (If there’s a lower road to take here, somebody let me know.)

I just Googled “what does salmon taste like,” and realized I have had salmon. Almost every Sunday for at least a couple of years. Smoky, a little aged and crispy, but still good, still satisfying and filling, and a serviceable centerpiece for a midday lunch. I may be way off base here, and maybe it’s the context in which I’m remembering them (both the food and the team) but to me that’s the Boston Celtics. I don’t exactly seek out Celtics games, and I’m not especially crazy about any one facet of the team, but I can’t deny I’m usually entertained when I watch them play, and I’m always pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the experience. I’m not crazy about Paul Pierce, but I have a ton of respect for both KG and Rondo, and with Jeff Green back I expect to find myself enjoying quite a few unplanned Celtics games this season. I’ve definitely never had green tea though. For sure.

Alex Arnon: I suppose this question all depends on your view of these foods. Ice cream to me is something that I legitimately can’t stop eating once I start. It’s either all or nothing for me - one bite turns into one pint and one pint turns into one huge night of bloating and regret. So on one hand there’s this thing which is so captivating that I constantly need more but getting more just leads to regret -- doesn’t that sound like the Golden State Warriors to you? A team that has so much delicious offense that you can’t help but watch every Klay Thompson three or David Lee pick-n-pop(sicle). But upon too much gorging you can’t help but notice that the Warriors are behind due to a complete lack of ability (or even disregard) on the defensive end and while you’ve fallen in love with them during the good offensive times, you can’t help but feel disgust at yourself for being entrapped by their offense so much that you completely disregarded their defensive woes until they were almost magically down 120 - 102 with a minute to go in the first half.

Smoked salmon is one of those foods that is fairly - uh - caucasianly biased when it comes to fandom. I could go for the easy joke here and say that this means that the Timberwolves are the smoked salmon of the league (COUGH HEY JACOB HOW YOU DOIN' COUGH) but I think that while they’re not the whitest team by roster like the T-Wolves, the Indiana Pacers certainly more than make up for it with the TYPE of players who they employ. Being that you’re here on Gothic Ginobili, you’re most likely an extremely intelligent, incredibly handsome and/or downright beautiful person who knows of all the white player tropes already. But I’ll rehash them here for you anyway -- whenever there’s a talented white dude in the NBA or NFL, all of the analysts praise his “mental fortitude” during tough times when “he keeps the locker room together” through his “blue-collar” “hustle plays” where he’ll “sacrifice life and limb” diving for a loose ball which he’ll always get because he’s “always in the right place at the right time”, with his “deceptive speed” and anachronistic “love of mayonnaise”. Alright, maybe that last one isn’t true, but doesn’t that sound like your 2012 - 2013 Indiana Pacers? They’re a team full of players who play way above their talent level through teamwork, hustle, and defense and I can almost guarantee that someone on SportsCenter is going to talk about them being “scrappy” during every Pacers highlight. And they employ Tyler Hansbrough. Case closed.

As for green tea, I don’t get the hype. Everyone’s always talking about how it’s good for weight loss and good for blood pressure and good for energy and good for preventing diabetes and good for -- well, you get the point. Here’s the thing though, I don’t care how good green tea is for you, because I absolutely despise it. Whether it’s because I had a terrible experience with green tea ice cream once (no, seriously, I once had to deal with a hysterically crying girlfriend in a Vietnamese restaurant over our green tea ice cream dessert as she ranted about how unfair life is because she got a flat tire and the guy made her pay full price for it even after she shamelessly flirted with him) or because I just hate all teas in general (except Arizona teas because god damn who doesn’t love that delicious corn syrupy goodness), I just don’t like it no matter how good it is for reasons unbeknownst to myself. For me, the team that meshes with this rambling, semi-coherent analogy has to be the Hawks. I have no idea why I hate them -- I don’t know if it’s their terrible name, Joe Johnson seemingly sabotaging them for years to get his max contract, being forced to watch their mediocre basketball in the playoffs each year, or their practically non-existent fanbase. While the NBA blogosphere at-large seems to love them this year because of whatever black magic Danny Ferry worked to get rid of Joe Johnson and clear up some cap space, there’s just absolutely no love going their way from me. And, thankfully, there’s currently no love going in that aforementioned crazy girlfriend’s way from me any more as well.

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