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Monday Morning Media Roundup: October 5th, 2020

The “Scrappy Underdogs Only” Edition

Milwaukee Bucks v Phoenix Suns Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

Note: The below was written hours before Miami’s heroic Game Three win over the Lakers. The views expressed remain largely unchanged because pettiness is a virtue.

There’s something deeply inspirational about seeing an underdog team and its fans finally reach the cusp of success. If you hire the right people, play things above board, build from within, and avoid any drama you’re bound to find a reward at the end of the journey.

What I’m trying to say is that prior to the Bubble I had come to the conclusion that whoever won the title, they’d be validated as legitimate champions. Turns out I spoke too soon! It could have been any team, it could have been any fanbase, and it could have been any set of players, but of course it had to be the Lakers. The ho-hum, just-happy-to-be-here Lakers. You’ll probably read this and come to the conclusion that I’m a salty hater who can’t stand the fact that the Lake Show is going to add another ring to the 50 they already have.

You’re right: I am a salty hater. More consequentially, I’m an apathetic hater, and I don’t think I’m alone. TV ratings aren’t everything, but they can stand in as a canary in the fandom coal mine. The NBA should be happy they dodged any Covid bullets and got to the Finals in one piece, but all this has lead up to the crowning of a champion that was built in the least compelling, most 2020 way possible.

Los Angeles was a laughingstock for years moving from screw-up to screw-up on their way to Knicksian levels of perennial awfulness. In a normal world you pull out of that death spiral by doing “the right things”: Drafting well, hiring decent employees, and getting a little lucky. LA skipped all that and got the premier free agent by dint of cosmic luck and paired him with a top player through the agency subterfuge so popular in league circles.

So congrats to the Lakers. If they end up taking these Finals home it’ll be a fitting end to a weird year.

Let’s roundup!

NBA governors will have to use their political capital to enact social change (The Undefeated)

It’s a fascinating issue that really grew in importance in the immediate wake of Milwaukee’s strike prior to game five against the Magic: What more can the owners in particular do to aid the social and political causes of the players? They can and will continue to throw a good chunk of change at the problem, but you wonder what more beyond dollars can be brought to bear?

Whatever they do, if they do anything, it will likely have to come at the margins of issues like private prisons, qualified immunity, weaponizing police departments, etc. You don’t need me to tell you this, but a lot of those topics are politically fraught to put it nicely. Wholesale change is unlikely to be in the cards, but that shouldn’t stop these teams from making themselves felt in their backyards. The collective governors won’t have enough clout to push national legislation, yet they have enough clout to get millions out of city and state lawmakers on arena deals. Combine that reach with relationships with other shakers and movers in your area and who knows? Maybe you can shift things for the good at the margins.

Inside the longest, most unpredictable year in NBA history (ESPN)

You have to applaud ESPN: Even in an article that tackles extremely serious ruptures to the NBA season including violent unrest in Hong Kong, the death of Kobe Bryant, the onset of a global pandemic, the Bubble, and strikes in response to police violence they were able to slip Zion’s debut in as “a defining moment we’ll remember from this year”.

That’s awesome.

Good long-form article otherwise!

What I Learned Inside the N.B.A. Bubble (New York Times) & The NBA Bubble Was a Success Because It Failed (Wired)

It’s been pretty quiet as far as the Bucks are concerned, so we’re going to continue down the path of Bubble retrospection since, against all odds, it didn’t collapse 48 hours into creation.

The first piece is a long introspection by writer Sam Anderson on the ups and downs of actually covering the sport from within the Bubble. What was already an unusual experience for the teams had to have been even tougher for the non-professional personnel who came in contact with the league’s grand bargain. Yet in the balance, it appears Anderson felt that the Bubble was worthwhile even when juxtaposed against the wider reality beyond Disney’s contained borders.

The second piece deals more directly with the fact that being in the Bubble didn’t completely halt the players’ attempts to take part in popular opposition to the pressing problem of police brutality. Specifically, of course, the capping moment was Milwaukee’s strike following the shooting of Jacob Blake which would go on to reverberate in other leagues. What else follows on from that now that the Bubble comes to a close remains to be seen.

Where do NBA coaches get their plays? (ESPN)

“Plays? What are plays?” -Mike Budenholzer

Just kidding. Sort of? I think so.

Just remember, Budenholzer’s coaching philosophy rests on the foundation that a vast majority of the on-court action is dictated in a free-wheeling manner by the players. Budenholzer sets up the machine and lets it whirr unless a tangible correction needs to be made. I’m sure he has a bevy of plays at his command for use in doing said corrections, but I’m having trouble recalling many that aren’t the Giannis-Tony Snell inbounds three-pointer.

As long as we blow teams out when doing whatever we feel like it shouldn’t be a problem, though.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver doesn’t expect break in 2021 season for Olympics next summer in Tokyo (CBS)

I hadn’t even considered the state of Olympic basketball when the NBA opted to move its season start date to something like January 2021. If the league makes December/January the start date for every season heading forward it could mean a return to the pre-Dream Team Olympic rosters for every nation involved.

Those were simpler times, at least.

The Social Media Section

This is awesome

Give a warm welcome to the newest member of the staff: Lola!

If you want to guarantee ruining Zion’s career, this is how you guarantee ruining Zion’s career

It’s YT highlight time

DJ out here recharging after another season of work

View this post on Instagram

create the wave n watch ya homies surf

A post shared by d.j. wilson (@lanky_smoove) on

A little too mid-century modern for my taste, but to each their own

We stan random headphone manufacturers

“I think we could get Kostas on a two-year guaranteed deal.”

Remember to take the time to vote if you’re so inclined!

From last week’s comment section in response to my question as to whether you guys are still watching basketball, it seems like the majority answered no. Some of you cited being “bitter, bitter” men or having “adult responsibilities” for why you stopped watching. At least in that regard I’m not alone.

Part of me wondered whether the Finals would pique my interest, and then the Lakers won games 1 and 2 by double-digits while the Twitter timeline melted down into the misanthropic miasma typical of that space. All in all, it’s probably better for my heart that my season ended nearly a month ago.

Happy Monday!