Saturday, July 23, 2011


The cicadas drone in staggered waves, the heat brings headaches - suggestions for pickle juice and Himalayan salt remedies. There’s not much going on with the CBA, the latest revelation was the release of BRI figures which only show that profits increased coming out of a recession while player salaries were  actually reduced. The sides proceed apace on parallel tracks, carved like trolley ruts in cement.  I’m reminded of our other national dilemma - the debt ceiling talks. The difference is any sense of urgency - the nation faces default while the league’s battles are a matter of choice, greed and good old-fashioned union busting.

And so our summer goes, players’ profiles are wiped from the league’s website, a few teams play musical chairs with coaches. Nellie is rumored for the T-Wolves slot and it ushers in a quick wave of hilarity before Rick Adelman’s name surfaces. Reality check. Plus, Lawrence Frank got another job, coaching the Pistons. The Lakers of course, hired the Piston’s last head coach - one John Kuester, now back with Mike Brown.  John’s tenure with the Pistons’ players didn’t go so well and I’ll leave it at that.

The commissioner’s foot soldiers march implacably forward, their briefcases swinging like incense pots. There’s no real leverage except that which comes when savings run low and unity begins to crumble. The fans have power but they won’t use it.  La la la la, we’re not listening!   Ever wonder about the sales figures for NBA licensed merchandise and apparel?  Keep wondering, that info's not released.  It’s the mother lode. Fans could decide not to buy it.  Nah, it’s crazy talk.

The stories and comments about Lakers layoffs and discarded loyalties have pretty much run their course but it’s at least worth listening to a Brian Shaw podcast interview from a week or so ago. It was done by the Kamenetzky brothers and covered not only issues of coaching and staff changes but also an arms-length distance extended by the league towards those that served so successfully under Phil Jackson.  It’s fascinating stuff.

One might expect Jim Buss to roam the Toyota training center like MacArthur at Normandy but in truth, he’s rarely ever seen.  Phil Jackson said he never once spoke to him last season.  Brian Shaw was somewhat at a loss, he’d see the guy at games with his dad but that’s about it. Buss doesn’t even keep an office at the facility.  He blew through June like locusts through a field though - careers were left on the floor like husks.

At the beginning of our millennium, Slava Medvedenko was piling up stats for BC Kyiv, scouted by Ronnie Lester.  He couldn’t seem to speak the language but he found a home. He confounded Phil Jackson and wouldn’t hesitate to chuck up a shot as the fifth option on the floor.  He’d usually sink it and get yanked back to the bench, cheeks aflame.  Kobe Bryant threatened to opt out of his contract and take Slava with him. Chick Hearn could never pronounce his name. These were the salad days and the championships came fast and furious.  I named my basketball journal after him and now we’re stuck in a fucking ditch called the lockout so excuse me if I get a little hostile and question the wisdom of a guy who put his bartender on the company tab.

Day turns to night. I noodle around with a post and get snagged on mundane matters like searching for an image.  The dog’s been looking patiently at me for an hour. The temperature has dropped by about two degrees. We go outside.  The cicadas have not ceased since this morning.  My sink is filled with dishes.

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