Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Buckle Up, Folks: Kevin Durant Is Going To Turkey

Just in case you were still under any illusion that there was going to be an NBA season worth noting in 2011-2012 - I'm really thinking of just sending my nine-year roto hoop league trophy to David Stern, just to see if he will agree to go for a full hostage situation...

There's this little moment of fun. Kevin Durant, the best young player in the world, the 7-foot monster with the impossible range who ended the Internets last week with that crazy Rucker Park fourth quarter, is in talks to go to Asia Minor.

You know, just like Deron Williams, and anyone else who wants to play basketball for money. (And yes, he'll be one of Williams' teammates.)

Does this get NBA teams to say uncle? Well, of course not: they are already balls deep into this quagmire with no chance of a magical pixie pony to pull them out. Unlike the NFL, where every team more or less makes money and it's just a matter of how much and how often, the Association has a half dozen (or more) teams that do not, and will not. Unlike MLB, there is no farm sysem of thousands of relatively competent scab-ready players that a certain percentage of the fans will watch, because they just like to go to the park. And unlike both of these sports, the start of the NBA's season is more or less missed by anyone who isn't a hard core hoops junkie.

Now, here's the dirty secret about the NBA's regular season: it actually matters. In the West, you can be good and miss the playoffs, especially if you have injuries or a lack of focus. In the East, if you don't have home-court in the playoffs, you will lose to Chicago, Boston or Miami, and everyone knows it. The first 40+ games are spent for every team that had roster turnover (aka, every team) to develop defensive cohesion, because there are very few players that are so good on defense as to be able to just exist as a positive force on their own. Bench rotations are worked out, coaches figure out their end of game and quarter strategies, refs are gamed and defensive books are written for the games that matter.

And that's all going away, along with Williams, Durant, Ron Artest and more more more... and rest assured, there will be more. After all, Durant is young and devout and unsullied by free agency; he was supposed to be, if not quite a fire break, at least not quite like everyone else. But with this news, he's not. The Durtantula will get paid to play hoop next year. Whether or not there will be a league for him to come back to is a very open question. Along with wondering if I can get those Turk games on my tee vee...

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