It was shaping up to be a pretty slow news week for the NBA, so I was worried that I might not have enough material for this week’s Pic and Roll. Then the Cleveland Cavaliers fired David Blatt, and that worry went right out the window. Let’s get started, shall we?
David Blatt Gets Taken Out With The Trash
The Cleveland Cavaliers were sitting pretty at 30-11, first in the Eastern Conference and one of the favorites to win the NBA title (after the Spurs and the Warriors). They’d had their issues in the past few weeks, but what team doesn’t during the regular season? Surely those issues wouldn’t be enough to dethrone David Blatt as the coach of the team, right?
Wrong. On Friday, Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news that not only had Blatt been fired, but his assistant Tyronn Lue had already reached a multi-year deal to be the next head coach. That’s right, they didn’t even bother placing the interim tag on Lue. It’s no secret that Tyronn has been LeBron James’ preference ever since he went back to Cleveland (remember, Blatt was hired before LeBron’s return. So it’s not all that surprising that the Cavs went with the choice that would best placate LeBron. Of course, David Griffin and various sources all deny that LeBron had any input on the decision, or was even contacted about these moves before they happened, but it’s hard to believe that’s the case.
What was surprising was the timing. Even though LeBron never truly gelled with Blatt, the Cavs were still among the best teams in the league. Griffin apparently thought the team was “regressing” too much despite their place atop the Eastern Conference standings to let Blatt continue running the team. In politics, Friday is often referred to as “take out the trash day,” because politicians will dump all the bad news in one big lump. That way, the media won’t pick all of it up, both because they can’t report on every item of bad news, and because no one reads the news on Friday. This news, however, was just a bit too big for reporters not to notice.’
One Of The NBA’s Best Feuds Returns
Robin Lopez’ soul-deep hatred of all NBA mascots has been well chronicled. Somewhat less well known, but no less enjoyable, is Westbrook’s rampage against mascots – particularly Rocky, the mascot of the Denver Nuggets. Whereas Lopez’s feud seems to at least partially be in jest, Westbrook’s seems like pure, unadulterated hatred. The two have a sordid history of violence (OK, so, not real violence), and it’s unclear if the blood feud will ever die. If we’re going to judge by Tuesday’s meeting, then it certainly won’t be any time soon.
40 years down the line, when Russell Westbrook, Jr. is dunking on the Nuggets, will Rocky, Jr. be there to witness it? Will the two extinguish the furious flame of hatred that burns at both ends of the rivalry? Or is this going to be something that continues, forever and ever, like the Shepherdsons and Grangerfords? Westbrook’s down the line will continue to block the shots of Rocky II, III, IV, and so on and so forth.
Kobe Bryant Wants To Be Like Mike. Surprise.
Kobe Bryant made it into the All-Star game as a starter, as if there was any doubt. When Kobe was asked about how he wanted his final All-Star appearance to go down, he said he wanted it to be just like MJ. By this he means he wants it to be a real game, to have guys come at him, rather then the reverence the younger generation of NBA players usually shows him. In other words, he wants them to treat it like a game, even though absolutely no one ever treats the All-Star Game like a game until the fourth quarter.
Hopefully, the other players acquiesce. It’d be a terribly boring experience to see all the players on the West pass Kobe the ball every time just to see him miss another shot, and it’d be just as boring to see the East let Kobe stroll into the lane unopposed – well, more so than players already do during All-Star games – for an attempted dunk. If players want to honor Kobe in his final All-Star appearance, than they just need to play the game.
Highlight Of The Week: The Miraculous Distraction Of Birth
— Storied Rivals® (@StoriedRivals) January 20, 2016
Just when you think you’ve seen it all, a student section goes and creates the absolute best free throw distraction of all time. Idea and execution alike are flawless, and it’s made all the more better by the fact that the player actually missed the ensuing free throw. However, with great power comes great responsibility. Please, I beg of you, do not use this distraction too often. Not only will its efficacy wane, so too will its originality. Only use it in the most dire of circumstances.