Adam Silver, center, the new NBA Commissioner, talks with Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, right, during a timeout of an NBA basketball game between the Toronto Raptors and Sacramento Kings in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. Silver replaced David Stern Feb. 1, who retired after 30 years as the head of the NBA.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Updated: February 22, 2014 11:38PM
Here’s the short version of what we know about the NBA this season: New commissioner, how ’bout those Phoenix Suns, that foul odor is the Eastern Conference, Kevin Durant is unstoppable and Andrew Bynum should have been unsignable. But you paid for the long version — assuming you didn’t steal this newspaper from a neighbor’s front porch — so here it is:
◆ Adam Silver replaces David Stern as NBA commissioner. What a year it has been. Jay Leno involuntarily stepped down from ‘‘The Tonight Show’’ after 22 years, and Stern imperially stepped down from his NBA throne after 30 years. I guess Leno ran out of jokes and Stern ran out of fines.
By the way, who packs it in at midseason? This would be like a Burger King day-shift manager quitting between the breakfast and lunch rush. Did Stern have a timeshare he had to use? Or maybe he wanted to retire in time to allow him to watch the Sochi Games unencumbered.
Stern will be missed. He resuscitated and expanded the NBA in multiple, untold ways, single-handedly discovered Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James and he was never wrong about anything.
◆ Do yourself a favor and root for the Phoenix Suns. Now in their 46th season as an NBA franchise, the Suns never have won an NBA title. They almost certainly won’t win it in 2014, but they’ve gone from a 25-57 record last season to 32-21 entering play Friday.
How have they done it? The out-of-fashion way — credit first-year coach Jeff Hornacek for that — by trying a little something we old-timers like to call ‘‘team play.’’
Here is your Suns starting five at the moment: Goran Dragic, Gerald Green, P.J. Tucker, Channing Frye and, at center, Miles Plumlee. Yeah, that Miles Plumlee. The only reason I know Plumlee is because he went to Duke. I make voodoo dolls out of all Duke’s starters and stick pins in them before every Duke game.
In Phoenix, though, I now have a Miles Plumlee bobblehead doll.
◆ That funk you smell coming from your NBA League Pass subscription is the Eastern Conference. This is all you need to know: At any given time, the Washington Wizards are the third-best team in the East. This, of course, is the equivalent of being the third-best sushi chef in Turkmenistan.
If the Eastern Conference were an airline, it would be Pan Am.
Let’s briefly compare two fallen, iconic franchises: the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. At the All-Star break, the Celtics were a horrid 19-35, which, in the East, put them just 4½ games out of a playoff spot. The Lakers were an equally horrid 18-35, which, in the West, put them closer to Pluto than to a playoff spot.
◆ How unstoppable is Kevin Durant? He’s unguardable. Not as unguardable as, say, Bigfoot, but pretty darn close. And even though he’s on his way to his fourth scoring title in five years, he’s doing much more than just making shots this season.
Remarkably, this might be Durant’s third consecutive season increasing his shooting percentage, three-point percentage, assists per game, steals per game and scoring average. In other words, even though he’s already one of the best, he’s getting better, like Picasso did between 1901 and 1906.
◆ Andrew Bynum is (almost) back in uniform, baby! You know your career has ebbed when teams trade for you so they can cut you to save on salary. Plus, at this point, Bynum makes Greg Oden look like Lou Gehrig.
‘‘People have opinions; I don’t respond to it,’’ Bynum said recently. ‘‘I just go out and play.’’
Uh, play what? Not basketball. He did bowl some during the 2012-13 NBA season he missed entirely while on the Philadelphia 76ers’ payroll.
Now with the Indiana Pacers, Bynum says he has had no training regimen since he last played with the Cleveland Cavaliers nearly two months ago. Rather, he has stayed in shape ‘‘just eating correctly.’’ Wow. That means Julia Child is NBA-ready!
Frankly, Couch Slouch can’t believe any team would offer Bynum more than a 10-day contract. And, if it were me, I’d only give this fella a 10-hour contract. Let’s see if he can make it from breakfast to dinner in one piece before committing to him for the long term.
Ask The Slouch
Q. Any truth to the rumor that, having withdrawn his lawsuit against Major League Baseball, Alex Rodriguez has begun training for the Tour de France? (Bob Dalton, A.
A.Pay the man, Shirley.
Q. Is it true that Atlanta has applied for the 2018 Winter Olympics in hopes that the curling teams could sweep the ice off the interstates? (Jim Myers, Lapel, Ind.)A.
Pay the man, Shirley.
Q. If one of the dogs at Westminster is injured and can’t continue, is he placed on the PUP list? (Stephen Pappas, White Plains, N.Y.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
Q. If someone is hurt playing Russian roulette in Sochi, are they covered by Obamacare? (Jack O’Brien, Fairfax, Va.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
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