It’s all about the money.
The lockout was largely about money. Cramming 66 games into a condensed schedule was all about the money (revenue for owners, paychecks for players). Every move the NBA makes is about money.
And as another reminder of that — and a big middle finger to hardcore fans — the league is going to charge basically full price for League Pass, the package that lets you get every NBA game at home on your television (via Ball Don’t Lie). The initial price is $169 this year (it was $179 last year for the early bird special, $189 once games started). And that’s just in America, if you live overseas the price is actually going up.
The league will sell that now the mobile broadband — you can watch games on your smartphone — is included rather than extra. Don’t care.
The magic number we wanted was $145 — that was the pro-rated share of 66 games from last year’s price. You can charge us the same per game, but don’t charge us the same as last year when you are giving us less product. Not to mention a sloppier product thanks to a rushed preseason and condensed schedules.
It’s not really the $24 dollars, it’s the symbolic gesture. Kind of a “hey, my bad.”
At no point through the lockout or this preseason has there been evidence that the league really cares about its fans. Sure, there has been lip service. David Stern sent out a swell letter. But actual evidence — some financial or other tangible means of saying the owners and players are sorry for the five months of BS — never showed up.
Because the money matters. Not the fans that provide that money. That’s what the actions say.
The second anniversary of the death of NBA broadcasting legend Craig Sager is on Dec. 15 of this year, a span that has seemed too quick for those of us who grew up watching the colorful sideline reporter.
Sager passed in 2016 due to complications from leukemia, and the outpouring in his memory since from those around the NBA has been significant. While Sager is no longer with us, his memory lives on.
Saturday against the Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook pay tribute to Sager’s memory with a pair of custom Air Jordan 1s inspired by Sager’s famous sideline attire.
Sager was known for wearing crazy patterns, everything from hounds tooth to polka dost to tartan. I think Westbrook’s shoes paid fitting homage to Sager’s sartorial flair.
Perhaps Jordan would be willing to join forces and put the shoes on the market to benefit the Sager Strong Foundation? I’m sure these would sell well and come at a premium.
Jimmy Butler is still a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, largely for reasons that are beyond the capacity of most rational NBA fans.
Butler continues to play with a team as they enter the beginning part of the season, although owner Glen Taylor and his front office are professing to still be looking for a suitable trade partner.
Meanwhile, the tension between Butler and teammates Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns must be palpable. It certainly has affected Towns at least in one way, as the Timberwolves big man missed a free throw after Dallas Mavericks fans chanted Butler’s name during one of Towns’ trips to the line
It’s hard to say whether Towns missed that free throw simply because of the chance or because sometimes guys miss free throws. Towns is an 84 percent shooter from the charity stripe, so you’d expect him to miss one once in a while.
Things continue to be weird in Minnesota, and this odd homeostasis can’t last for long.
Did Rajon Rondo spit on Chris Paul?
That’s the question everyone’s asking after Saturday night’s big brouhaha between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets which led to several objections and coming suspensions from the league office.
Various angles have been analyzed at length on social media, and indeed it was always apparent the NBA viewing public-at-large would get to the bottom of things. Around 9 a.m. on Sunday morning, we came to our logical endpoint.
Thanks to this new video, it does appear that Rondo spit at Paul.
The NBA league office is still reviewing the tape, but according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski they appear to have the clip in question in hand.
There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to the coming suspensions. First, how much Brandon Ingram will be penalized for instigating the entire thing with his shove in the back of James Harden. Ingram also came in with a flying punch to Paul’s face that might be looked at a bit more severely.
Second, both Paul and Rondo landed punches, but if Rondo indeed did spit on his competitor that’s a level of disrespect — not to mention responsibility for making the first move against Paul — that might get him a tougher sentence.
We haven’t seen a real fight in the NBA in some time, where actual punches were landed and things got more serious than just guys running between tunnels underneath Staples Center. How the league punishes these guys this early in the season will dictate to us in the future how they feel about this kind of tension spilling over into violence.
Phoenix star rookie Deandre Ayton, welcome to the NBA. Please try to guard Denver’s Nikola Jokic in your second game.
That didn’t go well. Jokic finished with a triple-double of 35 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists. However, it’s how he got there that was impressive: 11-of-11 from the field shooting, 10-of-11 from the free throw line, zero turnovers, four steals, and he threw in a blocked shot for good measure.
Jokic was +29 on the night and the Nuggets won 119-91. Denver is 2-0 to start the season.