Midnight Madness. The non-NBA fan doesn't hear these words until the week before Christmas when retail establishments thrust some individuals into a panic-frenzied state in an effort to both start and finish their holiday shopping. Sure, the big box stores are staying open late to HELP you get that last-minute gift. But don't kid yourself. They are hiding something. They want you to be thinking beyond the holidays and remember how they helped you out of a tight spot. Insert Washington Wizards. Talk about hiding something: Gilbert Arenas. While most of you were tucked in your beds at 12:01am this morning fast asleep, the Washington Wizards opened training camp, leaving some in the media wishing they were at home with their warm and fuzzies on. C'mon. The Wizards are trying to be more fan-friendly and this morning's event drew about 4,000 according to some reports. We know Gilbert Arenas is trying to get over that pesky gun conviction and so to, are the Wizards after an embarrassing 2009-2010 season to say the least. Arenas was avoiding the camera and tried to hide in plain sight. Please. That's what a two year-old does with chocolate all over their face inching away from the cookie jar. What he should have done was just stand there, answer the questions no matter how annoying they were to him and move on. No hide and seek. Just stand and face the music until the volume subsides. There's madness everywhere in the NBA, though. Let's touch on a few: Carmelo Anthony, NBA coaches coming and going and oh yeah, the "we are so awesome yet not really" speech were heard from some in the Raptors camp on Media Day.
Guy Smiley is Reincarnated
So you are at a Christmas party and get stuck in a convo-circle with a bunch of people you don't like. What do you do? Make conversation and put on a happy face. This is what Carmelo Anthony did on media day trying to address the "should I stay or should I go" story. You could tell he didn't want to be there and was wearing his Denver Nuggets uniform like a kid wearing his Sunday best - uncomfortable. Think back to early this summer when he was offered a 3 year, 65 million-dollar contract extension. He still hasn't signed that little piece of security and instead offers up the "keeping my options open" excuse. He claims he never wanted to be traded but wants to leave some options open until the end of this season when he'll sit down with the Denver Nuggets Management and go from there. "I'm here, man. I'm here today. Whatever the future holds, it holds". Does this sound like a guy who just wants to get out there and play some ball? Look at all the issues the Nuggets have to face this season. George Karl is coaching on a one year contract - though his health issues are behind that one. Chancey Billups has a team option for 2011-2012 and Kenyon Martin along with Chris Anderson are nursing injuries. Not a good way to start the season, boys. Not a good way.
Just Rip the Band-Aid Off
Seriously. How painful is it going to be this season for a third of the teams in the NBA? We have 30 teams, 8 of which have a new coach which means a whole lot of dip testing going on trying to figure out team chemistry. Here are the list of Head Coach newbies: Monty Williams of the New Orleans Hornets; Tom Thibodeau of the Chicago Bulls; Keith Smart of the Golden State Warriors; Avery Johnson of the New Jersey Nets; Larry Drew of the Atlanta Hawks; Doug Collins of the Philadelphia 76ers; Byron Scott of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Vinny Del Negro of the L.A. Clippers. The two I am most concerned about are the last two on this list. Not so much for Del Negro, though he's coming off a tough coaching stint with the Bulls and I hope it works out for him with the Clippers. Remember that other club Byron Scott wanted to offer his coaching services, to? As a former Laker, Scott wanted to coach his former team and continue his legacy in the purple and gold. But Phil Jackson wasn't ready to give up his seat yet so Byron Scott was forced to make a decision and he decided to move to Cleveland. I know you know this story but doesn't it sound a little suspicious to you? I called it here on the DNB in a "Jiggly Bits" piece after the Lakers won the 2010 NBA Championship. I had a feeling Phil was going to retire as Head Coach of the Lakers since he missed the Championship parade and gave the "doctors appointment" excuse. Unless you are hooked up to tubes and lying in a hospital bed, you don't miss something like that, especially as a Head Coach and especially when a routine doctors appointment can be rescheduled in light of winning an NBA Championship. I am sure stepping down after 20 years of coaching is a hard decision to make and is a reason why he took the summer to do it. Or maybe he didn't want to hand off his 'baby' to Byron Scott and wanted him to move on to another team. Phil Jackson has admitted to saying he would like to promote one of his coaching assistants, Brian Shaw to the position. I know Phil is almighty powerful but remember, he doesn't have the power to do that. If he did, why would he waste it on Brian Shaw? Why not use it to bring back Red Auerbach from the dead in his Head Coaching prime or reincarnate himself because really, who IS going to replace the great Phil Jackson. Man, this season is going to be pure bananas. I am looking forward to every minute of it.
You Can't Blame Him
Imagine you have a bunch of microphones in your face and you own the Toronto Raptors. What would you say to the media given what you have? Of course, you are going to use phrases like it "feels better" when describing your current team or ride the positivity train. That is what Brian Colangelo did on Media Day and that is his job. I think it was interesting he was all cool and collected when talking about Chris Bosh and Hedo Turkoglu leaving and how the Raptors are not "held hostage" by certain contracts now and how they finally have some "financial flexibility". Ok, I get it. But when you start answers with, "No knock on Chris, but he tended to hold onto to the ball a lot" or "No knock on Hedo, but I think (Linas) Klieza will give us more than Hedo" how could you not think there was even a little resentment there. Granted, it will be hard to replace the average 24 points and 11 rebounds Chris Bosh gave the Raptors each night but at least Colangelo is realistic in thinking it is not going to come from one person. Maybe he is right. Maybe some of the other Raptors 'hiding in Bosh's shadow' will be given a chance to perform. Maybe we will see some great things from this team now that they are able to make a fresh start. Or maybe we shouldn't get our hopes up and try our best to get behind a team who is clearly rebuilding again. I'll go with door number three.
Basketball Beyond the Floor
Remember to join me on here on the DNB this Thursday when we will be discussing Condition The NBA Way. It's a strength and conditioning book published in 1994 and written by 14 strength and conditioning coaches in the NBA at the time. It's funny and you do actually learn something from it. See you Thursday and until then, happy reading.