Author: Ira Winderman

Celtics Europe Basketball

Winderman: After lockout, preseason games look pretty good

Leave a comment

How much do we miss the game? This much: We’re actually looking forward to the start of the preseason.

Yes, in this space a week ago we said the process is too long, that it shortchanges players who spend the month working without pay (with the NBA calling to remind that 50 percent of revenue generated in the preseason goes to the players, as revenue under the new collective-bargaining agreement).

But after having nothing at this time last year due to the lockout, the gradual roll out of the league allows for plenty of time to sample in between NFL and college-football fare.

So what’s about to commence? Here’s what:

Friday, Celtics vs. Fenerbahce Ulker in Istanbul, Turkey: Kevin Garnett gets an early chance to further complicate international relations. Word is he already has forgotten the phone numbers of all the Fenerbahce players, as well as Ray Allen’s. Fenerbahce says that’s a shame since they’re nice to talk to on the phone.

Saturday, Nuggets vs. Clippers in Las Vegas: Now what possibly could go wrong with sending a pair of NBA teams to Vegas for an exhibition, including one that features JaVale McGee? Think of it as a return to the original “Hangover.” Wondering how many players the Clippers will be able to round up after the fact to take to China and how the Nuggets are going to be able to get that lion out of their hotel suite and back to Mike Tyson’s house.

Sunday: Magic vs. Hornets in Mexico City: And this is an attempt by the NBA to promote the game internationally? Or are they trying to keep the league’s top teams out of harm’s way?

Sunday: Warriors vs. Lakers in Fresno, Calif.: What if Steve Nash’s first pass as a Laker isn’t to Kobe?

Monday, Real Madrid at Toronto: Flash back to 2005 when the Raptors lost to Maccabi Tel Aviv. Another humbling NBA preseason moment on the horizon? It sort of would be like Barca losing at home to Toronto FC.

Oct. 10: Pacers vs. Timberwolves in Fargo, N.D.: They’re playing in the FargoDome. That is all.

No, matter. It’s as close as we’ll come to real hoops until Oct. 30, and the mere fact they’re bouncing balls anywhere puts us ahead of where we stood last year at this time.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at @IraHeatBeat.

Winderman: Time for shorter NBA training camps

Indiana Pacers v Miami Heat - Game Five

The list of players who will miss the start of training camp is significant, everyone from Chris Paul to Al Harrington to possibly Dwyane Wade. Each, though, could be back for the start of the regular season.

Which either means the offseason is too short or camp is too long.

Yet here we are, on the verge of the NBA’s first full training camp in two years, left to wonder whether there might be a happy medium between the one-week camp the lockout produced last December and the four weeks we’re about to embark upon.

For as much as coaches are embracing a return to the previous normalcy, what they truly embrace is the time spent in the gym, at practice, not the nonsense masquerading as exhibition play.

Because it is the exhibitions, and all that goes with them, that get in the way.

Take the Mavericks. They will open camp Saturday in Dallas but then leave the following Wednesday for Europe, where they will play a pair of exhibitions. It hardly allows for much in the way of continuity, although it could mean a couple of home-cooked meals for Dirk.

To a degree, the NBA got it right last year with a home-and-home pair of exhibitions against a geographically close rival. For most veterans, especially those about to embark on an 82-game marathon, two is about right, although some might want one or two more.

But just as the NFL’s preseason is twice as long as it needs to be with football’s four exhibitions, the NBA’s maximum of eight also is excessive.

Remove the travel to the Dakotas, other hinterlands and those college campuses, and there would be more time for the actual work of becoming a team honed for the regular season.

Of course, that also wouldn’t generate as much preseason revenue, revenue that solely goes to the owners, with paychecks not starting for most players until the regular season.

Two weeks of camp/preseason would allow the NBA to get started on better footing, with those feet not as sore when what matters actually begins.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at @IraHeatBeat.

Winderman: The NBA is too nice. We need some real rivalries.

Kevin Durant, LeBron James

Dwight Howard somehow now is friends with Stan Van Gundy and hopes to eventually be remembered fondly in Orlando.

LeBron James returned to Cleveland last season saying he would not rule out perhaps one day again playing for the Cavaliers.

Ray Allen took out a full-page ad in Boston to remind Celtics fans how much he cherishes their time together.

Grant Hill is back in Phoenix speaking fondly about his time with the Suns, even after moving to a division rival, with the Suns talking about Hill one day moving into their front office.

Know what the NBA needs just about now? Something along the lines of bounty-gate.

Because leagues are at their best when rivalries are pure, lines are drawn, when you’re either with us or against us.

Oh, there’s still some of that in today’s NBA, including the surliness of Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins toward anyone not in their team’s colors, and the one-upmanship between the front offices of the Nets and Knicks, but at a time when Kevin Durant is working out alongside LeBron, it does tend to take the edge of what the NBA once was, the pulsating chants of “Beat L.A.!” even when you weren’t actually playing L.A.

During a recent community even in Boston, Celtics coach Doc Rivers urged a singular approach for the coming season for his players: “I bring up Miami every single day to them. I want them to hate them. I want them to beat them. That’s gotta be our focus.”

Instead, we’re getting Hornets players working out alongside Spurs players in San Antonio, open gyms around the NBA featuring visits by opposing players, including one just the other day from Derek Fisher at the Lakers’ facility.

To a degree, this is a global community the NBA has forged, a shared bond of furthering the game, if not necessarily furthering rivalries.

It is why Mark Cuban remains somewhat refreshing with his Mavs-vs.-the-world approach, why we now, more than ever, can appreciate how Pat Riley had so fervently preached against fraternization.

The Heat were fun last season because they were compelling. They might have been more fun the season before, when they were loathed.

You may not condone what Greg Schiano pulled this week against the Giants, but he made it clear this was not about winning friends. It was about competition, a line that sometimes gets blurred in today’s NBA.

Ira Winderman writes regularly for and covers the Heat and the NBA for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. You can follow him on Twitter at @IraHeatBeat.