Delayed Gratification

Before we get into this year’s highly anticipated NBA Finals. I’d like to give a shout out to the Boston Celtics and San Antonio for having successful seasons. Although I think the Celtics didn’t work hard enough to get Demarcus Cousins or Jimmy Butler on the team this year, I’m not so sure that would have been worth two more wins in this year’s conference finals. I am curious if they are going to run it back with the addition of another young lottery pick are trade their number one pick for some vet pieces to help Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say they overachieved this year with their current roster. Whatever Danny Ainge decides to do this off-season, it will be tough to mess this off-season up for the Celtics. They have a lot of good options.

The Spurs will have a challenging off-season themselves, as there are a few questions that must be answered for them to sustain their run of excellence for the next few seasons. Though it seems like Dejounte Murray is poised to be the point guard of the future, I think it would behoove the Spurs to sign a veteran to serve as a bridge for Murray era. There are a number of free agent point guards the Spurs could sign on the cheap who could help mentor the young prodigy as he grows into his role as a floor leader. I personally am rooting for a George Hill/Gregg Popovich reunion next season.

Jonathan Simmons may have played his last game in a Spurs uniform, as his payday is right down the road waiting for him once the free agency period starts. He is a restricted free agent, but if a team offers him a ton of money to go play for them, San Antonio might let him walk. This would be unfortunate because I’ve been one of Juice Man’s biggest fans and I’d love to see him back on the team. For what’s out there at the wing position, he could turn out to be a good investment.

I would be surprised if Patty Mills plays for the team next year. He is an unrestricted free agent and some marginal team is probably going to be foolish enough to drop some major dough on a player who isn’t good enough to be a starting point guard for a contending team. Kawhi’s injury in Game 1 last round turned the conference finals into a pre season tryouts. Spurs players were just playing for their jobs after it was clear they were not going to advance.

Looking down the road, the Spurs are going to need some young front court players as Lamarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol are clearly on the wrong side of their careers and can’t be depended on to carry a team if Leonard was unavailable for some reason. Kyle Anderson hasn’t improved all that much since he first got into the league three years ago, and it may be time to start looking for Danny Green’s eventual replacement. Green does some things well (like stopping 3-on-1 fast breaks)  and some things not so well (like dribbling). He is like that boyfriend some women have that does just enough to get dumped. She doesn’t break up with him, but she thinks about it seriously at least once every 3 months. 4 years later, both parties are wondering where this thing is going.

Outside of Kawhi and Murray, there are a lot of questions to be answered this off-season. A lot of critics think this is beginning of the end of the Spurs dynasty, but I think this is just a transition period. Either way, this off season will be the critical point we look back on five years from now when accessing the prime of Kawhi Leonard’s career.

 

FINALS PREDICTIONS

You must excuse me if I seem bored with the Cavs-Warriors threematch, but at this point it seems pretty anti-climatic. Besides the first 30 minutes of game 1 of Spurs-Warriors, there has been little doubt who would be in the NBA Finals. Neither team was tested on their way to the final round, and there was a part of me that was disappointed that Cleveland dropped a game against Boston. It would have been cool to see both teams head into the Finals 12-0. Alas, this is the best the 2017 season could give to us fans.

3 Keys to the series:

Draymond Green/ Andre Iguodala vs. Lebron

Lebron is going to get his no matter what, but Green and Iggy are going to have to figure out a way to slow him down, make him work for points, and not get into foul trouble. Refs tend to swallow their whistles when Lebron creates contact by dipping his shoulders into people’s chest and using his off-hand to push into guys. If there is a foul called, it’s usually on the defensive player somehow. Rasheed Wallace put it best when he said, “These guys (Kobe, Shaq, Lebron) are supposed to be the best right? So why do they need more help if they are so good?” That is exactly why I @bucks with Sheed even if he is fibbing about making up the phrase “Ball Don’t Lie”.

Role Players

We haven’t seen this kind of star power on both Finals teams since the 2013 and 2014 Spurs-Heat matchups, and before that, the Celtics-Lakers rivalry in the 80’s. However, anyone who knows anything about NBA basketball knows that its the how role players play that will determine who wins these playoff games.

It isn’t crazy to expect big numbers from Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Steph Curry, but you never know what you are going to get from Kevin Love and Klay Thompson on the offensive end (although both can easily put up 40 points in the blink of the eye). The difference between the two players is that Love is an average defender at best, while Thompson is the best defensive 2 guard in the league. To think that both players are afterthoughts shows you how good both teams are.

Look for the Kardashian curse to rear its ugly head this series as Tristan Thompson should have a big series against this thin front court of Golden State–but he won’t. I can’t ever quantify these suspicions with anything but intuition, but wasn’t I right about James Harden swoon last year because he was dating Khloe? I’m just saying.

Golden State has the better bench of the two teams with guys like Javale McGee, Shaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala all making important contributions with the second unit. Ian Clark and Patrick McCaw can be counted on to steal some minutes at the guard spots. Don’t forget that Mike Brown (?) can always count on David West or Matt Barnes to provide some toughness whenever that is needed.

The Cavaliers have a lot of washed dudes coming off the bench, like old ass Kyle Korver, Deron Williams, Richard Jefferson, and Derrick Williams.

Defense

For all the talk about their offense, Warriors had one of the best defenses in the NBA this year. The Cavaliers? Not so much. There was even a time period where their defensive rating was 30th in the league. They haven’t exactly faced any offensive juggernauts this post season, so people have been tricked into thinking that they “flipped that switch.”

The Warriors are phenomenal at finding the “mouse in the house” and exposing it again and again. Outside of Tristan Thompson, Lebron James, and sometimes Iman Shumpert, is there anyone on that Cleveland roster that will scare the Warriors? J.R. Smith can bring it on  occasion, but he can just as easily space out at anytime. The rest of the team is compiled of average defenders. The Spurs were a top 5 team in defense and you saw what happened to them, and before you say “but Kawhi Leonard was hurt” please realize that it would have taken EVERYTHING to go right for the Spurs to even have a chance at winning last round.

People tend to think this has the makings of a classic, but I don’t see it. Star power aside for Cleveland, they are ill-equipped to deal with one of the best offenses in NBA history. Warriors in five, and the only reason I’m not predicting a sweep is out of respect to Lebron. I may sound as crazy as I did when I said the Spurs would beat Golden State last round, but you saw what happened that first 30 minutes before Kawhi got hurt (like what I did right there?). There could have been a number of reasons why San Antonio was dominating before that take down by Zaza, but before that infamous play, I wasn’t looking so crazy now was I? If both teams remain healthy the entire series, the Warriors will clinch it five games and it may not even be that close. And oh yeah, Draymond Green is going to win the Finals MVP, just like I predicted in the season preview.

Have a good week.

 

BM

 

profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at Fullsass Studios. Follow him on twitter @clickpicka79. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com. 

 

House Money (Tried to Told Ya’ll)

Didn’t I tell you the Rockets were busters? Didn’t I tell you that James Harden’s game is all smoke and mirrors? Didn’t I tell you that Tony Parker’s injury would be a blessing in disguise? I love to troll as much as the next man, but I don’t just be saying shit to hear myself talk. Ya’ll gon learn to start listening to me. As my dude Bomani Jones is fond of saying, “Listen to me now. Believe me later on.”

We got a game 7 in Boston on Monday between the Wizards and the Celtics. I would be shocked if the Celtics lose this game at home. Role players tend to not show up in elimination games on the road. John Wall and Bradley Beal are going to need help if they are going to advance to the next round. I’ll definitely be tuning in because a) its Monday and I don’t have anything better to do, and b) its game 7.  You really find out what these players are made of during the pressure packed situations. I love elimination games. Whoever wins this series will be lucky to get two wins against the Cavaliers.

 

The Warriors vs. Spurs Western Conference Finals may as well be the NBA Finals. Barring major injury to key contributors, whoever comes out of this round should be the clear-cut favorites against the Lebrons. People think this is dissing Lebron, but the beauty of basketball is that your weaknesses will get exposed. Everything comes out in the wash when you cut corners in hoop.

Cleveland has yet to play an offensively competent team in the playoffs and that trend will continue until they face the Warriors or Spurs. Cleveland statistically had one of the worst regular season defensive statistics of all the playoff teams. Luckily for the Cavs, playing in the east and having Lebron can cover up a lot of ugly blemishes. Lebron is like the most effective IG filter for any NBA team.

He has proved from time to time that he can drag the worst four scrubs ever assembled and still take them to the NBA Finals. Mad respect given, but to win in pro basketball the other players–four to nine–have to play well. You can’t convince me that the Warriors and Spurs aren’t stocked with superior role players in comparison to the Cavaliers. Go look it up if you don’t believe me, and after you do, I want you to make a list of all the players on Cleveland’s roster not named Lebron or Tristan who can defend their position well.

Bringing it back to this series for a second, the only chance that the Spurs has is through in-game adjustments and timely substitutions. Jonathan Simmons has proven he belongs on the court, and Gregg Popovich will have no choice but to give Dejounte Murray some run against the tall guards of Golden State.

Throw out what happened in the regular season, as these are two different teams from what you saw before April began. The biggest problem the Spurs face is the incredible amount of length and quickness they have to throw at San Antonio. Matt Barnes, Andre Iguodala, and Shaun Livingston all can come off the bench and disrupt an offense with their defensive versatility.

Spurs can take advantage of their mismatch in the paint with Pau Gasol and Lamarcus Aldridge if they can somehow get the ball across the court, and keep their entry passes from getting intercepted or tipped away (thus creating transition opportunities for the Warriors and igniting their offense). Spurs fans know that David West isn’t the defender he once was, but look for Javale McGee to continue to impact the game with his presence in the paint, rebounding, and athleticism.

The play of Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili, Kyle Anderson, Jonathan Simmons and Dejounte Murray–San Antonio’s ballhandlers not named Kawhi– will determine if these games are close nail biter endings or blowout losses. If the Spurs can slow the tempo down, attack the paint, and get Kevin Durant and Draymond Green in foul trouble, this could be a troublesome affair for the Warriors.

On defense, the Spurs will have to run the Warriors off the three-point line and control the boards. The Warriors feast off of open threes and transition points, so it will be important for San Antonio to not hoist jump shots early in the shot clock, and not turn the ball over.

Lebron couldn’t beat the Warriors by himself in 2015, so don’t expect a hobbled Kawhi Leonard to carry the San Antonio to finals alone. Aldridge and Gasol are going to have to chip in on the boards and points in the paint . I’m not sure what we can realistically expect David Lee and Dewayne Dedmon to contribute. Dedmon (with his stone hands) has played himself into Pop’s doghouse and Lee had serious issues on defense last round. If Dedmon can’t catch passes, then he will need to play smart defense and rebound to stay on the court. Lee could be a good piece on the offensive end, but better believe that the Warriors will go at him when he gets back on D. Golden State loves finding the mismatches and attacking it. #mouseinthehouse

This may sound obvious, but the Spurs will have to play their best team ball of the season to even have a chance at winning this series. By Game 4, both coaching staffs will have a clear idea on which lineups and matchups work most effectively, and the real chess game will begin. Popovich has to use all his chess pieces effectively in order to advance to the NBA Finals, so keep an eye on the role players in this series.

The margin of error is very small, and though San Antonio has proven they are talented and fearless, the biggest hurdle they will face is a mental one.The discipline and focus that it takes to beat these Warriors four times in seven games is what will determine who wins. The Spurs must stick to their game plan, value every possession, and take smart shots. The Warriors will penalize them on the other end every time they turn the ball over, take a bad shot, or forget how to set screens and make the extra pass.

At this point, San Antonio is playing with house money. Having won 60 plus wins and advanced to the Western Conference Finals only a year removed from Tim Duncan’s retirement, this season is already a success for them. They are also huge underdogs. They will be facing tremendously less pressure than veteran players like Zaza Pachulia, Matt Barnes, Javale McGee, Kevin Durant, and David West (who knows how many seasons he has left in him). Pressure does funny things to people, don’t discount that element this round.

As much as I want to say Spurs in six games, there are just too many unknowns. I still can’t pick them to——— nah you know what? Fuck it. Spurs in six. I’m putting 100 dollars on San Antonio and in a week and a half, I’m collecting 900 dollars. If you like watching exceptional basketball execution, then I suggest that you watch every minute of this series. Get your bets in before 2:00 pm today because Los Spurs are going to shock the world!

Buen Provecho

 

BM

profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at Fullsass Studios. Follow him on twitter @clickpicka79. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com. 

ROUND 2: FIGHT!

Some thoughts on the first round before we advance to the conference semi-finals:

  1. Even though the Jazz have a game 7 in L.A. this afternoon, I think this series ended Friday night when Utah couldn’t take game 6 at home. I partly blame Quinn Snyder for that loss. I don’t know what the man has against Boris Diaw, but he has not played him very much this round. Diaw has performed fairly well despite his diminished role. Friday night he logged 14 minutes scoring 5 points, grabbing 2 boards, 1 assist, and plus 13 +/- ratio. His passes were crisp, his screens were solid, and he was constantly moving without the ball–always in the right place at the right time. Quinn Snyder insisted on playing the inexperienced Brazilian guard Roger Neto, who took a series of bad shots during crunch time that contributed to the 11 point deficit that the Jazz faced down the stretch (his +/- ratio was a negative 10). Shelvin Mack never saw the court, and neither did Dante Exum. The Jazz lost by 5 last night. I’m putting it on wax now: when they look back to see why they lost the series, you can point to Quinn Snyder’s weird substitute patterns. Oh well, I’m looking forward to a Clippers-Warriors 2nd round because there will be a lot of shit talking as the Clippers get beat in five. It could been you Utah fans, losing in maybe six.
  2. There is still a little room to jump on the Mike Conley bandwagon, but we don’t know how long there will be seats available. He had a hell of a series, and after all the think pieces that have been and will be written, we can finally say that Mike Conley is no longer underrated.
  3. Tony Parker is still washed, but he may have enough juice to get the Spurs to the Western Conference Finals. That game 6 performance in Memphis was vintage Tony. Much respect to the OG Frenchman.

 

Thoughts on the Second Round

  • Don’t get caught up in the hype of the Lebron vs. Drake subplot in the Cavaliers-Raptors series. That one is going to be a snoozer. Toronto will be lucky to win one game next round. I am actually rooting for a Cleveland sweep simply because it means less screen time for Wheelchair Jimmy— at least until the Warriors make the Finals, and of course he’ll be all up in the mix like he was there from day one. #nonewfriends
  • We might actually see some fisticuffs with the Celtics-Wizards series. John Wall has already shown the world what he is capable of this playoffs. The problem is that no one could sit through and entire game of an Atlanta Hawks game without thinking “people still play basketball this way?” This series will be much better for basketball purists as the highlight matchup of John Wall/Bradley Beal vs Isaiah Thomas/Avery Bradley will be scintillating at times. The biggest question for the clash of backcourts is “who is Isaiah Thomas going to guard?” #mouseinthehouse Thomas may get 20-30 points, but he may also give up 50 too. Celtics have a slight advantage with their overall depth, and I think this will make the difference as they beat the Wiz in 6 games, although I’d almost talked myself into Wizards in 7.
  • There is a hint of 1995 in the air with this Rockets-Spurs series. Just like in ’95, both teams have legitimate MVP candidates, but unfortunately, no one will know who won the award until late June. Spurs can breath of sigh of relief after surviving the Grizzlebies, but the Rockets provide a different kind of challenge. The Rockets’ style of play creates a ton of possessions, so expect a lot of substitutions and a lot of fouls. The Rockets aren’t known for their defensive prowess, but they do have a couple of good defenders on the team (Trevor Ariza and Pat Beverley), and they have some good rebounding forwards in Nene and Clint Capela. I think this is the perfect kind of series for Pau Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, and David Lee to shine. You know Kawhi is going to get his, but the role players on the Spurs will have an easier time scoring on this Rockets unit than last series. Also, I’m not sure James Harden’s ankle is completely healthy. I’m taking San Antonio in six out of respect, although my gut says it will only take five games.

Enjoy the semi-finals.

 

BM

 profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at Fullsass Studios. Follow him on twitter @clickpicka79. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com. 

Moving The Needle

Essentially nothing has changed though, it is still going to be a Cavaliers-Golden State Finals (barring major injuries of course). I would have liked to have seen more player movement among the bottom teams to set up future moves during the draft, but whatever. We may look back on this trading deadline as the day that some GM’s cost themselves jobs. {Yawn} Wake me up when the playoffs start. Continue reading

Knapp Time: Alex’s Picks To Click For the Week of Nov.14th-20th

This A Good Ass Game will be run by carefully chosen special guests while Bobby Mickey is on vacation in Bermuda. This Week’s Clicks to Pick are brought to you by Alex Knapp. You can also check out Alex Knapp’s Weekly Hot Take Roundup here. #fullsasstakeover

 

 

MONDAY

Thunder @ Pistons 7:30pm EST

Record wise this is the best game of the night, and somehow the Pistons got off to a decent start despite missing their all-star PG, Reggie Jackson. I could see Westbrook going for 45 but the Pistons still wining this game. Should be fun to watch.
Mavs @ Knicks 7:30pm EST
Old man Dirk vs Young man Zinger. Worth a click.
Magic @ Pacers 7:00pm EST
Here are two young and fun east coast teams battling for a playoff spot. Each team needs to win this to prove to they belong in the playoffs.
Indiana is better but I think Orlando gets the win.

TUESDAY

Bulls @ Blazers 10:00 pm EST (NBA TV)
The jury is still out on the new-look Bulls. After a hot start they’ve stalled with 3 straight losses (can’t score sometimes).
When they shoot above 40% from 3pt land they win. When they shoot below 36% from 3pt land they lose. There is very little in-between.
Dame vs Rondo, C.J. vs Wade/Butler, Myers Leonard vs Doug McBuckets?!?!?!
Toronto @ Cleveland 7:30pm EST (NBA TV)
Oh you that lame kind of NBA fan who only watches “the best” teams play? That is sooooooo cool LAME.

WEDNESDAY

Golden State vs Toronto 7:00 pm & Memphis vs Los Angeles Clippers 9:30 pm
Both the ESPN matchups will likely be more blah then exciting. I can’t stand watching Toronto or Memphis. I hope KD and Curry go for 80 combined and Blake Griffin ends somebody career with an earth shattering dunk.
Rockets @ Thunder 8:00 pm EST
Harden vs Russ. Gonna be high scoring!!!
Bucks @ Hawks 7:30pm EST
If the ESPN games don’t hold your attention, then watch the Greek Freak play a squad with an actual good team defense. They will be a good test of his skill level. NBA nerds will get off watching how many different defensive looks coach Bud throws at him.

 THURSDAY 

Blazers @ Rockets 8:00pm EST
Both the TNT games kind of suck here too (Philadelphia vs. Minnesota; Los Angeles Clippers vs. Sacramento). You can call me a homer but I’d rather  watch Dame and Harden go buck wild on each other (neither of them can play a lick of defense).

FRIDAY (GOOD ASS GAME OF THE WEEK)

Warriors @ Celtics 8:00 pm EST (ESPN)
Celtics always want to beat this team, and coach Brad Stevens usually has a good enough–
creative game plan to make it fun and exciting. My money is on an overtime win by the Celtics.

SATURDAY (Go Do Something Fun)

Warriors @ Bucks 8:30pm EST
Maybe…
Hornets @ Pelicans 7:00pm EST
Watch “The Brow” drop 50 on Kemba and company.
They have no big man to guard him. Cody Zeller, Roy Hibbert, Marvin Williams? Get the fuck outta here with that weak shit.

SUNDAY 

I will be at the Blazers @ Nets game, so I hope it’s a blowout.
Other than that, this looks like a football day (Cowboys-Steelers; Patriots-Seahawks).
f16fe4_33a1706de82a46a9b053723415da08dc      Alex Knapp is a Portlander who has lived in Brooklyn, New York for the past 7 years. He is a filmmaker and actor currently working in HR to pay the bills. Alex is an avid NBA basketball fan who likely has an opinion on every team and every player, seriously – try him. You can check out his podcast with Anthony Levy, PDXPATS on iTunes. 
 

Warriors Fan Fiction: Steph Curry’s Summer Vacation

Illustrations by Louis Eastman

Scene 1

It is a bright and sunny afternoon in the Hamptons, where the Curry family are taking their summer vacation. The house they are renting on Airbnb happens to be only 2 blocks away from the house Kevin Durant is holding his free agent talks. Steph Curry sits alone in the living room,chilling in his Under Armour shorts, Under Armour  T-shirt, and Under Armour socks while the rest of the family is out. Steph’s mother, Sonya has taken Sydel and Ayesha (and the babies) out to the beach. Dell and Seth are out at the local country club finishing the back nine from an 8 AM tee time.

Steph declines. He is still sour from his team’s Finals performance–especially about his own play down the stretch. Steph realizes that this is his first moment alone since the end of the post-season. He turns on the television. As luck would have it, Kansas vs. Davidson is on ESPN classic. Steph immediately locks in, stretching out on the couch watching himself from 2008. 2008 Steph shoots a three pointer after being left open on a defensive switch. The game clock reads 14:48 in the first half.

“Damn.” He thinks, “I didn’t even get to take the final shot in this game. We were so close to making the Final Four against North Carolina. That would have been bananas.” Just another time that he was so close to a title. His mind wanders to an imaginary pick roll, with Tyler Hansborough guarding him on a switch.Just before he has a chance to cook Hansborough, he hears the doors of a minivan close in the driveway.

The women are back from the beach. Steph can hear them laughing in unison. Riley Curry’s voice is the most audible. She is holding court and the women are loving it. The door to the kitchen opens and they all enter. The first one inside is Riley, with a black Barbie doll in her hands and her aunt Sydel right behind her. The Barbie’s hands are outstretched, but its legs are bent, as if it too were sitting in the car.

Ayesha walks in next with Ryan in her carseat. Sonya walks in last, holding a paper bag full of groceries. She lays the car keys on the kitchen counter and immediately opens the pantry and refrigerator doors.

Steph sits up, pausing the television.  

“Hey! Ya’ll back already? Mama is there anything else in the car to bring in?” Steph kisses Ayesha on the lips. Riley runs up to Steph and slaps his bare kneecap and yells, “Where is my kiss Daddyyyyyyyyy?”

He grabs her by the torso, beneath her armpits and lifts her up to his chest, then cradles her against his body and kisses her right eyelid. She immediately wipes at her eyebrow with the back of her hand.  “Ugh that’s my eyeball daddy. Don’t kiss my eyeball. That’s gross.”

Everyone laughs.

“I’m sorry baby.” Steph gently places Riley onto the floor feet first. He repeats his question to his mother. “Mama. Is there more stuff out there?” He leans his head in to investigate the contents of the bag.

“Move boy.” says a laughing Sydel. Steph fakes as he if he is going to touch her hair. Sydel flinches. “Stop playing Steph.”

Sonya shakes her head. “No Steph we got it all. You can go back to what you were doing.” Steph turns his head towards the paused television screen. It is stuck on an image of a white haired man in a KU shirt hi-fiving what could easily be his younger son–who is also in KU garb.

“What are you watching Steph?” Ayesha asks as she walks into the living room. She sits on the couch with baby Ryan in her arms. She lifts Ryan up to smell the back of her diaper, then lays her down on her back, rifling through a diaper bag with one hand while removing the baby’s onesie.

“The Kansas game from 2008 just happened to be on, but I wasn’t really watching it.”  Everyone freezes. Ayesha looks up at Steph who is standing at the base of the couch. Sydel and Sonya exchange knowing looks in silence. Riley throws her Barbie into the air singing, “SUPERRRRR Black Barbieeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

Ayesha returns her attention to changing the diaper. She measures her words before speaking, as if she wants to say the right thing. “Baby you sure you alright? Its gotta be tons of stuff that you can watch that isn’t going to remind you of……”

“Of what?” Steph interjects. “Failures in the clutch?” He laughs weakly. “Baby I said I’m good. It is just a game. We past that now. I’m living in the moment with youuuuuuuuuu.” He leans over and kisses her cheek. Ayesha smiles. “But yo! I think I am gonna go for a quick run though before thangs get too hectic round here.” Steph grabs his phone and earbuds from off the coffee table and pats Riley on the head as she plays on the kitchen floor.

“Don’t mess up my hair daddy!” she yells without even looking up. Everyone laughs.

“Mama you need anything while I’m out? I’m gonna go for a quick job before daddy and Seth get back.”

Sonya walks towards Steph and gently pats him on his abdomen. “No son. We are good. We’re just gonna start chopping stuff to make a salad to go with this leftover Salmon.” Steph’s eyes light up and he smiles. “Ooooooowwweee. We got that dressing that I like to go with it?”

“You talking about that Green Goddess? We might be out. Don’t worry. I’ll whip something up that you’ll like even better. Ayesha showed me a new recipe. It’s delicious. AND fat free.”

“Alright ya’ll. Call me if you need anything. Riley! I’m leaving you in charge of things. Call me if NANA acts up okay?”

Riley drops her toy onto the tile lets out a high pitched squeal. She touches her face with her tiny hands “You’re silly!”

Steph throws a wink at Sonya and Sydel. Then runs down the stairs leading to the driveway. He stops to find his jogging playlist, titled “Drizzy off the Hizzy”, then resumes jogging.He runs out the driveway and into the street.

Inside the house, Sonya and Sydel stare out the window, watching him until he disappears out of view. Sonya sighs. Then she runs a bell pepper under the running faucet. Sydel begins chopping carrots on the cutting board. Neither of them say anything as they work in silence. Riley runs over towards the couch and hugs Ayesha’s knee. Ayesha responds by grabbing the remote control. “Wanna watch Blues Clues Riley?”

Riley’s face is buried in her mother’s pant leg. She gives a muffled “no.” Ayesha feels a wet spot on her knee. Riley has deposited a spot of saliva on her jeans. “Girrrrrrrrrrllllllllllllllll What is you doing?” Riley laughs.

[End of Scene]

 Scene 2

The Curry family is sitting at the dinner table at a restaurant. Drinks have been had. Food has been consumed, and coffee is being served with the dessert. Ayesha and Steph are sharing a chocolate mousse. Sydel is eating a cheesecake with a drizzle of strawberry puree. Dell declines a refill on his cup of black coffee and discreetly hands the waiter his credit card while Steph isn’t looking.

Ryan is strapped into her highchair and baby seat. She is fast asleep. Riley animatedly yawns. Her uncle Seth seizes the opportunity to tickle her tummy. “Stoppppppppppppppppppppppp” she pleads. Seth guiltily laughs and grabs his fork, snagging a bite of his sister’s cheesecake.

Sonya quietly sips her glass of wine. She stares at her half empty plate for a moment; smiles, then whispers in Dell’s ear. “You should probably talk to him Dell. He seems a little down. Ayesha says he has been listening to nothing but Drake for almost 2 weeks now.”

Dell winces and places his hand on her knee. He whispers. “I’ll talk to him. I promise. We gotta give him some time to process this. The Finals just ended. We can’t force him to talk about it until he’s ready.”

Sonya nods and gently plants a kiss on Dell’s lips. “Okay. I guess you’re right.”

The waiter returns to the table. In his hands is a black book which holds Dell Curry’s credit card and receipts. “Top copy is yours sir.”

“Thank you” Dell says as he takes the pen and pad from the waiter.

Steph seeing that his father has paid, says “Dad what are you doing? I told you I had this.”

Dell smiles. He gives  the stop gesture with his hand. “Son. Don’t worry about it. Just because you make more money than me doesn’t make you too grown to let your dad pick up the check. Besides, I haven’t had a chance to treat you for having such an outstanding season.”

Steph drops his fork. The light mood suddenly shifts into a slight tension. Steph looks pained. “What are you talking about dad? We blew a 3-1 series lead. We had a chance to dance on MJ and Scottie’s graves, and we didn’t get it done. I let the team down.”

Sonya’s mouth falls open. Seth’s eyes grow big in astonishment. Riley throws her napkin in her uncle’s lap, then reaches across the table for her sippy cup. Ayesha grabs a hold of Steph’s hand and starts rubbing his palm with her fingertips.

“Aw son. I know it hurts. But you can’t let it get in the way of appreciating what you accomplished this year. You’re the last guard to win back to back MVP’s since Steve Nash, and you beat the Bull’s regular season record. You have nothing to be ashamed about.”

“But we didn’t finish the job. And Lebron was so mean to me. I hate him dad. He thinks he is the king, but he’s just an overgrown prince. He should be 1-5 in the Finals at this point. Now I know how the 2013 Spurs feel.” Steph is visibly agitated. His hands are shaking. He looks as if he is about to cry.

Seth speaks up. “Aw Steph. We all know how you feel bruh. But look at it this way. You probably woulda won if Dray hadn’t gotten suspended.”

Steph gently pushes his mousse to Ayesha and stands up. He releases his wife’s comforting hand. “What do you know huh? Duke didn’t win a doggone thing when you were there. In fact, you’ve never even sniffed a championship game. You giving me advice is like Ozzie Canseco trying to help Jose with his batting stance. It’s like Billy Ripken showing Cal Ripken a new way to take grounders. It’s like Chris Penn—”

“Wardell! Stephen!!! Curry!!! That. Is. Enough!” Everyone’s mouths are agape with eyes turned toward Sonya. She dabs at her eyes with a kleenex. The pregnant pause is broken by Riley, who bangs her sippy cup against the table. She awkwardly tries to remove the top off her cup so that she can pour her juice in Seth’s lap.

Steph knows that he has gone too far, and walks away from the dinner table. He grabs a toothpick from the host stand, and walks outside the restaurant. Beneath the awning are two valet attendants. One of them is on his phone, swiping Tinder matches. The other is practicing his crossover with an imaginary ball. Neither one of them see Steph Curry walk up beside them. Steph waits a beat before planting himself on the curb of the sidewalk.

The rest of the Curry family are inside grabbing their stuff and preparing to go back home. Dell is the first one to approach the valet stand. The young man practicing his basketball moves only notices him in the midst of a putting up a layup attempt. He stops, says hello, then embarrassedly taps the other guy on the shoulder and hands him the keys to the Curry’s Escalade.

The valet runs off to grab the minivan while the other Currys amble outside and hang out by the curb. Steph lets out a deep sigh and walks back over to the family. Sonya walks towards him and embracing him. Steph meekly mouths “I’m sorry” before collapsing into his mother’s arms. He cries silently as the entire family engages in a group hug.

Dell stands stoically on the outside holding baby Ryan in her baby seat. Ayesha runs one free hand along Steph’s back. Riley somehow avoids the huddle and is attempts to grab a set of keys from the valet stand. The valet attendant doesn’t see her because he is trying to pull up the video function on his Iphone. The minivan arrives and the family slowly piles into the car once baby Ryan and baby Riley are securely fastened into their car seats.

[End of Scene]

 Scene 3

Steph is shooting baskets in an empty, well lit gym at a nearby high school. Once again, he is adorned in his Under Armour gear. He takes three dribbles with his left hand then takes three dribbles with his right hand. He brings one final dribble behind his back with his left hand, and then hoists up a  mid-range jumper that hits nothing but net.

“There you go!” a voice says as the ball hits the wooden floor. It is Dell. Dell grabs the ball as it is rolling towards him and hoists up his own deep jumper. It hits nothing but net. Steph shags the make and throws it back out to Dell. Dell hits the front end of the iron and Steph rebounds it, dribbling the ball back out to the top of the key.

“I guess I was kind of a diva back there wasn’t I?” says Steph as he shoots and makes another three pointer.

“Aren’t most point guards?” Dell responds. He jogs into position to catch the ball and pass it back to Steph. “Your brother knows you didn’t mean it. Just apologize to him when you get back to the house.”

“I shouldn’t have said that about his college team though. He cherishes his time with Coach K. That was kind of a low blow.” Steph puts up another shot. It goes through the net without even hitting the rim.

Dell smiles. “It wouldn’t get you suspended for a Finals game, but it was definitely dirty.”

Steph loses it, laughing so hard that he has to put the ball down. “Yeah Dray did put us in a spot didn’t he?’

Dell picks up the ball, pump fakes it, dribbles, then shoots a turnaround fadeaway shot that J.R. Smith himself would be proud of. It goes in, making a “thwack” sound as it hits the net. Steph grabs the ball after a couple of bounces and hits his old man for another three. Dell swishes this one too.

Steph throws another pass to Dell. Dell pump fakes. He dribbles. Then he hoists up a brick that misses badly, hitting the right corner of the orange backboard square. He misses so badly that Steph doesn’t even need to rebound it. It bounces right back to the elder Curry. He makes the next shot though. “Son. I played in the league a long time, and you know how many conference championships I played in?”

“None?”

“That is correct son.” Swish. In goes another basket. Dell takes two dribbles towards the paint and lofts up a floater. It rims out. Steph dribbles the ball towards the left corner (where he once shot 95 % for the playoffs) and tickles the twine. Dell shags the ball and throws it back to a planted Steph, who releases it almost as fast as he receives it. They repeat this process in silence four more times before Steph misses long and to the right.

Finally Dell continues. “You know basketball is a team game. It takes a lot of breaks for a team to even get to the Finals–much less win one.” Steph moves to the left elbow after taking a pass from his dad. He dribbles, spins to his left, and then floats a left handed shot that kisses the left corner of the backboard before falling in. He grabs his own rebound and starts spinning the ball off his index finger.

“Dray getting suspended hurt the team. Those extra games didn’t help Andre’s back, and Bogut getting hurt didn’t leave you guys much rim protection. But you can’t dwell on that son. You’ve been in the league not even half as many years as I have and you’ve already played in 2 NBA finals. Do you know how proud that makes me son?”

Steph stops spinning the ball and looks at Dell. The ball drops with a thud, bouncing on the floor twice before rolling towards the gymnasium wall. “You mean you’re not ashamed to be the father of a choker?”

Dell shoots an incredulous look at Steph. “Wardell Stephen Curry. Are you kidding me? Son, you have surpassed any and all accomplishments that I could have even dreamed of achieving as a player. You could have hung it up after your rookie season with those ankle injuries, taken the money and become a stockbroker. I would still be proud of you. Not only did you not rest on the laurels of being Dell Curry’s son, but you revolutionized the way the league plays. All your mother and I wanted was to see you succeed in life Steph. It didn’t matter what you chose as a profession. Not only are you a fantastic son, but you’ve been an incredible role model for your brother and sister, and an excellent father and husband. The Warriors could go 0 for 82 and I’d look at you like this shit gravy.”

Steph’s eyes light up as he goes to hug his father. Dell embraces his son and smiles.

“And believe me when I tell you this, you will play in many more Finals to come. Don’t sweat it. Even Magic had to come back and prove himself after blowing one against the Celtics. This isn’t over by any means. You’ll get back to the Finals next year against Cleveland, and then you’ll be the one saying mean things about Lebron and his mama.”

Steph takes a step back, breaking their embrace. “You really think so dad?”

Dell laughs. “Of course I do. But I’m not the only one. Just ask KD.”

Steph shoots his father a puzzled look. He musters up his best Gary Coleman impersonation. “What you talkin bout Dell Curry?”

“He is saying that there is no way we are going to blow this next one.”

Steph whips around and can’t believe his eyes. “KEVIN DURANT???!!! So you ARE going to sign with us?”

“HEHE” KD hoists up a 40 ft. jumper as if it is a free throw. It sinks into the net as cleanly as dime into a piggy bank. He slowly struts towards the Curry duo. “Like your dad says, basketball is a team game. I need the Warriors as badly as the Warriors need me dawg.” Durant extends his elbow and offers a high five that Steph has jump towards to complete. Durant then shakes Dell’s hand. “Yup my agent is handling all the paperwork right now as a matter of fact. My cousin is on the twitter and IG sending out cryptic messages. By tomorrow, it will be official dawg.”

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Dell’s face breaks into a smile the size of Mike Conley’s 153 million dollar contract. He watches as Kevin and Steph take turns re-enacting the Draymond Green kicking Steven Adams in the junk. KD argues that there is no way that it could have been an accident while Steph tries to insert “The Magic Bullet Theory” into the argument. This soon leads to good natured ribbing as Steph, Kevin, and Dell decide to have a 3 point contest. Dell considers texting Seth to come and join them, but remembers that Seth is only a 32 % shooter (at best) from behind the arc.

Outside the gym, in the teacher’s parking lot, is rapper and business mogul, Jay-Z. He is smoking a Cuban cigar that his buddy Barack gifted him. Jay-z smiles at the sound of the ball hitting the wooden floor. He is in the middle of texting a photo to his other buddy, rapper E-40. The photo is of Durant’s Escalade parked next to Steph Curry’s minivan. Jay-Z captions the photo with a message. I told you I’d make it happen. Just take care of me and Bey’s tickets for the season and we’ll call it even. #CHAMPIONSHIPBANNER #YAYAREA #ROCNATION.”

A navy blue Bentley pulls up. The driver gets out out of the car and opens the rear passenger door. The Geto Boys’ “Damn It Feels Good to Be A Gangsta” is playing on the stereo. Jay-Z ashes his cigar, then steps into the vehicle, but not before throwing one last look at the building. He takes a puff of his cigar, and he exhales. He reaches out and closes the door, then nods for his driver to take off.

Jay-Z checks his voicemail as the car pulls out of the parking lot. He realizes that he somehow missed three phone calls from his wife Beyonce. Her last voice message sounded urgent–something about finding a buyer for their extra Hamilton tickets. He exits out of his inbox and begins to dial her back, but then decides against it. “Hey turn that shit up B!” He excitedly yells. “This my favorite part of the song! Scarfaccccceee! You crazy for this one–HAHA!”

                        THE END

profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at FullsassStudios. Follow him on twitter @clickpicka79. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com. 

Finally Some Games That Count

Being the hoops junkie that I am, many people are surprised when I tell them that I don’t watch preseason NBA basketball. Sure it’s an early peek at the rookies and NBA retreads who are fighting to make the rosters, but I just (metaphorically) can’t get it up for games that don’t count for anything.

What does surprise me is how little I missed the NBA this off-season. Opinionated hot takes of Kevin Durant’s departure aside, there was little to glean from checking the web everyday for NBA news. I watched nearly 300 games last season, and by the time Golden State choked away the NBA Finals, I needed a break from watching basketball. I thoroughly enjoyed living like a normal person this summer.

I did a little bit of traveling, read a few (basketball) books, moved cities, found a new full-time job, and spent some time with my non-basketball friends and family. But all that shit is over come Tuesday night. The season is starting, and despite the inevitable Dubs-Cavs Finals on the horizon, it will be an enjoyable one to watch. While most people were chomping at the bit, I’m of the belief that the season is starting at EXACTLY the right time. In fact, it was only a couple of days ago that I realized that opening night was on Tuesday–the off-season just flew by.

The reason I watch so much basketball is so that you don’t have to. There are tons of games to comb through, but I’m willing to step on any potential land mines so you can live the normal life that I can only dream about. I could have used maybe one more week to get my life together, but no matter; the time has come for us to admire dunks, emit loud shrieks and weird squeals. So without further exposition, I give you the first Good Ass Games of the 2016-2017 NBA season. Buen Provecho.

          GOOD ASS GAMES OF THE WEEK

Monday

No games scheduled

Tuesday

Utah at Portland (Good Ass Game of The Week)

Expect to see me talk about Utah a lot this season. They have a bunch of interesting players on this year’s roster; including one of my favorites, the infamous Boris Diaw. Portland is already embarking on a Joey Harrington type MVP campaign for Mr. Damien Lillard. This is a late game, but the high I’ll be feeling on Wednesday morning will be worth the lack of sleep. If this don’t turn out to be a Good Ass Game, then my name ain’t Bobby Mickey.

San Antonio at Golden State

This game will be a nice snapshot of what Spurs fans have to look forward to this season. San Antonio will have a great season and will probably grab 50 wins. They will beat the teams they are supposed to, but they will get their asses handed to them by teams with top-tier point guards (they will especially feel the loss of Danny Green in this one). Wins against Cleveland and Golden State will be tough to come by.

Wednesday

Dallas at Indiana

I’m willing to bet any Mavs fan their favorite flavor of Gelato that the Mavs take their first L of the season. Any takers?

Charlotte at Milwaukee

This one is going to be a low-key Good Ass Game. If you miss it, at least watch the highlights. I bet there will be at least 3 top ten plays from this game alone.

Minnesota at Memphis

OOOOWEEEEEE! Teen Wolves go to the grindhouse. Who else is excited for the first appearance of the vein in Tom Thibodeau’s forehead? To quote the great Marv Albert, “YEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!”

Sacramento at Phoenix 

File this under TAP THAT VEIN GAMES.

Thursday

Boston at Chicago

This game has the potential to be a snoozer, but I gotta know if this has all been an elaborate Machiavellian plan by Rajon Rondo to get close enough to Dwyane Wade for payback for that time Wade dislocated his arm. If you think I’m not hoping that Rondo gets his revenge, then you don’t understand the depths of my pettiness. I hope Rondo makes Wade’s life a living hell for the duration of this season.

San Antonio at Sacramento

One day, we may finally get to see Boogie Cousins play for a stable organization. Sacramento is still a shit show, but they have just enough good players to make you intrigued.

Los Angeles Clippers at Portland 

This is the real pick to click of the evening. It’s a TNT game, and a 9:30 tip-off. I’ll be lucky to  be able to watch any of this game. But you definitely should if you have cable and you like watching beige acrobatic dudes make fake tough guy faces.

Friday

Phoenix at Oklahoma City

Just for funzies, if you have nothing better to do around this time of the evening, I’d suggest watching the first half, hitting the liquor store, calling in a pickup order, and then getting back home in time to watch the 4th quarter.

Charlotte at Miami

There is a faint buzz surrounding the “Me So Hornets” (I’m sorry I had to) this season as they should be the favorites to win the Southeast division with or without a healthy Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Holy Shit! I think I’m starting to get excited about the season starting).

Los Angeles Lakers at Utah

In a first for this site, the Salt Lake City Punks have made the Good Ass Games of the Week three times in a week. What better way to spend a Friday night than ingesting legal substances and watching some west coast basketball.

Houston at Dallas

Let’s be honest Dallas fans. This is the year the bottom finally falls out. After years of post 2011 mediocrity, the Mavericks will finally be bad enough to land a lottery pick. Or will they? They are a difference making point guard away from giving teams trouble in April, but for some reason, people don’t like to come to Dallas. Is it because their genius head coach is an asshole? Or is it because the Mavs owner has been piecing together the kind of rosters that NFL Fantasy owners scramble through during bye weeks. Old man Dirk won’t be there for you forever Mark Cuban, the losses are going to come for you, and when they do, they are going to want some cocktail……….FRUIT!!!!!!

Saturday

Minnesota at Sacramento

I’m pretty sure this is an NBATV game so if there is a party or social function you’re getting pressure to attend, do that instead–especially if you have League Pass. This will be one of those games no one talks about, but then you check your Twitter feed, and there will be four or five GIF’s and Vines documenting sick dunks and crazy highlights.

Sunday

Golden State at Phoenix  

I’m curious about how the Suns will play this season. It is weird to see Earl Watson go balling for the UCLA Bruins to coaching an NBA team. It makes me feel old. This probably be the last time I mention the Phoenix Suns this season, unless it is to discuss trade possibilities. They have some young talent on this team, and may be where Utah was 2 seasons ago, unfortunately for Suns fans, ownership can get out of its own way. By February, you may see half of these players playing significant roles for playoff teams.

San Antonio at Miami 

We are finally going to find out if Erik Spoelstra is a good NBA coach. If the Heat win more than 42 games, he may be a candidate for NBA Coach of the Year.

Milwaukee at Detroit

No Reggie, no problem. This game may not get out of the low 90’s, but it should be competitive (in a Princeton-Boston College second round NIT game kind of way). This may be the earliest playoff preview we get this week.

BM

profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or venues to perform comedy, he can be found recording podcasts with Craig Stein at Fullsass Studios. Follow him on twitter @clickpicka79. For booking inquiries, send contact info to thisagoodassgame@gmail.com.