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The NBA and the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness

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Perhaps you’re familiar with NBC’s hit comedy “Parks and Recreation” (9:30 p.m. EST Thursdays on NBC- MEGA-PLUG). Perhaps you’re familiar with the season premier last week in which the Parks Department was forced to operate a youth basketball league on a shoestring budget. And perhaps you’re familiar with head coach Ron Swanson’s Pyramid of Greatness. But if not, check it out:

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And that my friends, is awesomeness.

Which got me thinking. What could NBA teams take from the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness? And who best fits the model of Swanson greatness? Let’s go to the tape, Bill! (You can be called Bill for this exercise. Or if you’d prefer, Duke Silver.)

“Body Grooming: Only women shave beneath the neck.” Carlos Boozer approves.

“Handshakes: Firm. Dry. Solid. 3 Seconds.”  Gary Neal needs to work on this.

“Poise. Sting like a bee. Do not float like a butterfly. That’s ridiculous.” Dwight Howard should pretty much have this tattooed on his forehead. Between the technicals and his penchant for floating like a butterfly in the post, maybe big block letters. Nice strong font.

“Rage. One rage every three months is permitted. Try not to hurt anyone who doesn’t deserve it.” By this value, Kevin Garnett has violated the pyramid… approximately 7,458,082 times.

“Facial Hair. Full, thick, and square. Nothing sculpted. If you have to sculpt it, that probably means you can’t grow it.”  Good on this measure: Baron Davis, James Harden, DeShawn Stevenson. Bad on this measure: Pau Gasol, Reggie Evans, Brian Skinner.

“Capitalism. God’s way of determining who is smart, and who is poor.” In the NBA, this translates as “Stern’s way of determining who are the Lakers and who is the Grizzlies.”

“You. You are your biggest ally.” Kobe.

“Perspiration. Only sweat during physical activity or love making. No emotional sweating.”  Also Kobe. Dude is cool as a cucumber. Probably smells like fresh laundry after the Finals. Conversely, Shaq seems to sweat more in conjunction with how upset he gets at calls. You’d think he’d sweat the weight off. You’d be wrong.

“Masonry. Building walls makes you stronger. Defending them makes you even stronger.” Danny Granger. Nothing stronger than the Bat Cave, right? On the other hand, the Warriors should pay more attention to this. Maybe hire some masons. Can’t defend any worse.

“Friends. One to three is sufficient.” C’mon. Do I have to spell out L-E-B-R-O-N for you?

“Stillness. Don’t wast energy moving unless necessary.” Have you ever seen Sasha Vujacic try and defend? It’s like watching an epileptic watch “Tron.”

“Old Wooden Sailing Ships. They’re beautiful.” Admit it. You can imagine Ron Artest saying this.

“Torso. Should be thick and impenetrable. ” Perhaps if Bosh adhered to this principle he’d be able to guard actual frontcourt players. On the other hand, Kevin Garnett once described defending Tim Duncan as “trying to guard a tree.”

“Intensity. Give 100%. 110% is impossible. Only idiots recommend that.” That’s a very Phil Jackson thing to say. And his Lakers give 100% nearly 80% of the time. Conversely, maybe if the aforementioned Kevin Garnett adhered to this principle, not as many people would think he’s a jerk.

“Deer Protein.” Brad Miller. Obviously.

“Suspicion. Do not trust anyone else.” Stan Van Gundy has a giant poster of this on his office wall.

“Self-Reliance. Trust yourself.” Ironically, this is Vince Carter’s favorite element.

“Attire. Shorts over 6” are capri pants. Shorts under 6” are European.” John Stockton is offended, sir. Meanwhile, Allen Iverson asks what a capri is.

“Discipline. The ability to repeat a boring thing over and over.” UBUNTU.

“Greatness Itself. The best revenge.” Derek Fisher invites all you point guard aficionados to check his bling.

“Selfishness. Take what’s yours.” This will be J.R. Smith’s 900th tattoo.

“Teamwork. Work together as if your life depended on it… IT DOES!” This is actually from the Utah Jazz handbook under Jerry Sloan.

“Wood Working.” Kevin Love believes strongly in this. You know, since all he does is get boards. Wocka-wocka-wocka!

“Weapons.” I bet you’re thinking I’m going to make a Gilbert Arenas joke here. … Okay, yeah, I was.

“Buffets. Whenever available. Choose quantity over quality.”  Glen Davis liked this so much he tried to suck on it like a hard candy. Then he spilled drool all over the rest of the pyramid. It was awkward.

“Honor. If you need it defined, then you don’t have it.”  This should replace the logo at center court.

“Parks and Recreation” stars on NBC every Thursday at 9:30 p.m EST right after “The Office.”

LeBron James says he doesn’t see Cavaliers-Warriors as rivalry

CLEVELAND, OH - DECEMBER 25: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers passes while under pressure from Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena on December 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory copyright notice. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Tyronn Lue said Cavaliers-Warriors could eventually match Celtics-Lakers as a rivalry.

First, if you ask LeBron James, Cleveland-Golden State would have to become a rivalry at all.

LeBron, via Joe Vardon Cleveland.com:

“We don’t look at it as a rival,” James said. “They’re a great team. They’ve been the best team the last couple years, last three years.”

“It’s just the next game, it’s Golden State,” James said. “They’re a helluva team, like I said the best team in the league and they’ve been that way the last three years, four years, however long it’s been, I’m not quite sure. But, listen, you guys know, we don’t put all our eggs in one basket for one game.”

Of course, Cavaliers-Warriors is a rivalry. These teams have met in the last two NBA Finals, played each other with relentless intensity, talked plenty of trash and remained elite.

LeBron just doesn’t want the Cavs to become comfortable. They’ve beat Golden State in four straight games – the last three of the 2016 Finals and on Christmas – and could extend the streak to five today. Beating a rival that frequently is a cause for celebration, and celebration leads to contentment. LeBron would rather keep Cleveland focused and hungry. Hence, saying the Warriors aren’t a rival.

Andre Drummond hits 3-pointer from inside Pistons’ own 3-point arc (video)

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Andre Drummond is really good at these deep heaves.

His 3-point percentage (44%) is even better than his free-throw percentage (38%) the last two years, though that says too much about his work from the line.

Drummond wasn’t the only Pistons player converting to end quarters. Ish Smith and Tobias Harris also stepped up in the Pistons’ 102-97 win over the Lakers:

NBA: Suns got away with offensive foul before key points in win over Spurs

Phoenix Suns Devin Booker acknowledges a foul as San Antonio Spurs Tony Parker lies crumpled on the floor, in the second half of their regular-season NBA basketball game in Mexico City, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell
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Devin Booker scored 39 points in the Suns’ 108-105 win over the Spurs on Saturday in Mexico City.

But Booker’s last four – which put Phoenix up for good – came directly after incorrect calls, according to the NBA’s Last Two Minute Report.

First, Booker drew a (legitimate) foul on Pau Gasol with 1:08 left and made both free throws. The problem: One second before that, Suns center Tyson Chandler should have been called for offensively fouling Tony Parker, according to the league:

Chandler (PHX) sets the screen on Parker (SAS) and makes leg to leg contact that affects his ability to defend the play.

That would’ve ended Phoenix’s possession rather than allowing Booker to get to the line.

The other missed call in the two-minute report is trickier, because it directly benefitted the Spurs but indirectly benefitted the Suns.

Manu Ginobili got away with travelling with 59.1 seconds left, according to  the league:

Ginobili (SAS) moves his pivot foot.

But he coughed up the ball moments later anyway, and – thrilled to gain possession with a live-ball turnover rather than a dead-ball turnover – Booker turned the miscue into a fastbreak dunk.

Rather than debate how to evaluate San Antonio getting away with a travel and it ultimately helping Phoenix more, let’s stick to just the uncalled Chandler offensive foul. That netted the Suns two points. Their lead when the Spurs began intentionally fouling? One.

Russell Westbrook puts up 20th triple-double of season, lifts Thunder past Kings (VIDEO)

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Through 41 games — half the season — Russell Westbrook is averaging 30.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.5 assists a game. Those numbers are insane, particularly considering his 42 percent usage rate. He has to put up numbers and do so fairly efficiently or the Thunder stand no chance of winning — and he has the Thunder on pace for 48 wins this season.

The Thunder picked up another of those wins Sunday night knocking off the Sacramento Kings behind Westbrook’s 20th triple-double in 41 games — 36 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. The video highlights are above.

It’s going to be fun watching him and James Harden go back-and-forth in the MVP race for the next few months.