It seems almost too easy to link to a famous video clip of an NFL head coach mocking the very mention of the word playoffs, when his team was playing nowhere near a level that would suggest that as a possibility.
But that might have been a legitimate reaction for some when hearing the news that the Lakers — yes, the same team that has had a season so disastrous that the word catastrophic doesn’t even feel strong enough to describe it — have officially been eliminated from playoff contention.
After suffering yet another historic loss, this time at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs, the inevitable became conclusive when L.A. was mathematically disqualified from reaching the postseason.
From Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:
The Lakers (22-44) were officially eliminated from playoff contention after experiencing another brutal night on defense. Who knew their victory over Oklahoma City on Sunday would become the miracle of the NBA season?
No need to stop just yet. The Spurs’ victory pushed the trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili past the “Showtime” group of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper for second-most regular-season victories by three NBA teammates (491).
In addition to the former Lakers trio being surpassed in career wins by the current Spurs one, San Antonio recorded its largest margin of victory against the L.A. franchise (34 points) since a 32-point win in 1977.
It’s been a season of humiliation for a Lakers team that has largely avoided that feeling for the vast majority of its existence. At this point, these milestones teams are recording against them are simply adding insult to injury, but it will all come to a merciful conclusion on April 16 now that the playoffs are formally out of reach.
As of tomorrow, training camps around the league open, and all the focus goes to the 2016-17 season.
For fun, let’s look back one more time at last season — the 50 top circus shots of last season.
Stephen Curry driving the lane and throwing up prayers once he draws contact (and hitting them), there is Russell Westbrook throwing the inbounds pass off an opponent’s back, and so much more. Enjoy. Then let’s get on with next season.
Kevin Garnett intimidates people. In the machismo-fueled world of professional sports nobody comfortably admits they were intimidated, but in the wake of Garnett announcing his retirement, a number of players stepped forward to say exactly that. And that KG trashed talked them fearlessly.
Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams found a way to avoid that — tell KG he didn’t speak English.
Adams was lucky, KG had a reputation for going harder at foreign-born players with his trash talk and intimidation. Then again Adams is not the kind of guy prone to be intimidated.
Athletes are injecting themselves into the needed national conversation about race, violence, and policing in this nation. That has taken some very public forms, including LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony speaking at the ESPYs, and Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem and leading others to do so. Some NBA players likely will follow Kaepernick’s lead.
Pistons coach/GM Stan Van Gundy likes seeing players speak out.
A couple of his Detroit players — Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris — said they backed the 49ers quarterback. Here is what the never shy Van Gundy said about all of it, via Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.
“I’m encouraged by the fact of what some of those guys stood up and did at the ESPYs and had a conversation,” Van Gundy said. “I’m really proud of the fact that we have guys that not only see the problem, but want to try to do something about it…
“To me, in some ways, (police brutality is) just the most visible to focus on and it goes to deeper inequities in our criminal justice system, our education system so there’s so much to focus on,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s great that we have players that want to be part of that conversation, and a lot of players that want to go beyond the conversation and be part of the solution.”
Van Gundy has been telling his players part of that solution is to vote.
The players union and NBA sent out a release saying they wanted to work together to create positive change, but details are still vague on what that might be. The only thing we know for sure as we head into the NBA season — with as divided a nation and election as anyone can remember as a backdrop — is that some NBA players are going to try and keep the conversation going.
It was the last game of the group stage of the 2000 Olympic basketball tournament at the Sydney Olympics, the USA was taking on France, another USA win on its way to another gold medal.
But what we all remember is this one play — Vince Carter dunking over the 7’2″ French center Frederic Weis.
Best. Dunk. Ever.
Weis was never the same.
In an impressive career — two-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Star, hours and hours of crazy highlights — this is always going to be the highlight at the top of the list. So we will use the anniversary of this dunk to look at it one more time.
Hat tip to nitramy at NBA Reddit.