Imagine if former NBA superstar Wilt Chamberlain had existed in the era of Twitter, YouTube and the 24 hour news cycle. Despite the relative "radio silence" of the era in which Wilt existed, he was an absolute mega-super-uberstar of his day. He was a dominant wonder on the basketball court, was in demand for movie parts, claimed to have unprecedednted success in the bedroom with the ladies and of course, did his fair share of commercials.
This 1966 commercial for VolksWagen cars was just one.
I've made no secret in the past about my disdain for the widespread homerism prevalent in NBA television commentary. The city-by-city-centric model of commentary needs to change to restore some respectability to play-by-play hoops announcing, and I think that we've found just the man to do it.
What we need, counterintuitively, is more Brits in NBA commentary. The reality is, we all know what's going on in a basketball game most of the time -- it's not a new sport in need of an education campaign. So most of the time the Marv Alberts of this world are telling us what we already know -- and we're simply not stupid enough to need that verbal diahorrea, are we?
So how about we add some commentary to the equation? This guy has done just that. An Englishman by the name of Anthony Richardson does this comedic commentary routine on an NBA 2K12 simulation between the Los Angeles Clippers and the San Antonio Spurs.
He makes plenty of football references, but you don't even need to understand who the Tottenham Hot Spurs are to find much of this video funny. Get 'im in there, I say!
The NBA Playoffs bring passions to the fore -- even more so than during the regular season. And when I say passion, I mean one-eyed vehemence.
One topic in particular that NBA observers seem to love focusing on over the past decade or so is the humble flop. The dive. The Academy Award-winning plea for a foul. It all started with Vlade Divac, seemingly, then extended to every "Euro" in the league, more recently making it's way to the antics of LeBron James and now it seems that everyone is open game.
This time around, the Los Angeles Clippers are the target of the claims of floppishness.
Who would've thought the pathetic Clips could ever reach Tall Poppy status, worthy of being cut down? However yes, this year the combination of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin has turned the "other" team in LA into a hot commodity; one worthy of the disdain of opposing fans.
In this video, one fan has chosen to highlight the flopping by the Clippers during Game 4 of their 2012 Playoffs first round series against the Memphis Grizzlies. And here's the thing: I don't see too many flops here. Sure, some of them involve a bit of acting and falsifying, but on the whole, I do see a lot of regular basketball plays and fouls occuring here.
I guess this is where that passion I was talking about kicks in. Or do you see it differently? Watch and let me know in the comments or on facebook / twitter.
1991 was the first year that I got heavily into this thing called the NBA -- a pursuit that was destined to change my life irrevocably. The excitement surrounding the league back then was phenomenal.
You had Michael Jordan at the helm, providing ridiculous highlights on an almost nightly basis. The baton had been passed to him by Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, both of whom were on near to their last NBA-legs, for various reasons. Outside of these ridiculously famous superstars, the likes of Clyde Drexler, Dominique Wilkins and Isiah Thomas were putting in super-human offensive performances on the wings, whilst Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Brad Daugherty and Rony Seikaly were legitimate big men in a mould we don't see today.
Meanwhile, we had a 1991-92 rookie class that included future stars Larry Johnson, Dikembe Mutombo, Kenny Anderson, Steve Smith, Terrell Brandon, Dale Davis and Australia's own Luc Longley. Hawks rookie Stacey Augmon, the Plastic Man, was setting highlight reels alight, alongside Nique in the ATL. And just around the corner, we had the imminent arrival of Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning and Christian Laettner in what was to be a star-studded 1992 NBA Draft.
Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Chris Mullin, Shawn Kemp, Kevin Johnson, Mark Price, Scottie Pippen, John Stockton, Tim Hardaway, Dennis Rodman. And I'm only just getting started. The league was ridiculously talented and full of the type of players that you'd pay to go and see play -- and entertain.
The league of today, by contrast, seems to have a minimal amount of legitimate stars. The ones that do exist are often petulant or overly self-focussed. They show little real personality, as they are too busy manicuring their public image and "personal branding". You know who I'm talking about.
I'd love to hear your thoughts, if you disagree, but I can't see how the NBA of the current era even remotely compares to what we witnessed in the early 1990s. Watch this video of the top 10 dunks of 1991-92 and tell me otherwise...
The Los Angeles Clippers took out game three of their first round NBA Playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies; and Chris Paul's son showed off his acting skills in the post-game press conference. Here he is putting on Blake Griffin's game face:
Everyone knows that video game simulations mean little in reality. But, they can be fun.
For many a year the likes of 2K Sports and EA Sports have been using the NBA 2K and NBA Live franchises to predict the outcome of real-life NBA playoff scenarios. This year, Owen Good at top video games website, Kotaku, has used NBA 2K12 to predict the outcome of the 2012 NBA Playoffs.
According to the simulation, we do have a couple of upsets ahead of us -- one of which being that the Denver Nuggets will take down the Los Angeles Lakers in six games, winning the last four in a row.
Unsurprisingly, the predicted Finals matchup is between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat... however, according to NBA 2K12, if Metta World Peace (aka Ron Artest) had not been suspended, the Lakers would not only take down the Nuggets in the first round, but progress to the NBA Finals against the Heat.
Another world; another era. Basketball was such a different game back in the 1960s. The sport was not as reliant on brute strength or elite athleticism, but moreso around grace and strategy.
Check out the video below, as the Cincinnati Royals take on the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the 1966 NBA Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. The Celtics won the match 112-103, giving them the nod in the Best of 5 series, 3-2. They went on to win the NBA title, defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals after a 54-26 regular season.
That Celtics squad consisted of the likes of John Havlicek, KC Jones, Sam Jones, Don Nelson, Bill Russell and was coached by legendary Red Auerbach.
As you can see, the style of play was vastly different... and of course, there was no three-point line!
Meanwhile on the other side of the court were Hall of Famers Jerry Lucas and league legend Oscar Robertson, who averaged 31.3ppg, 11.1apg and 7.7rpg that season. You may not know Lucas, but he was one of only two players to average a 20-20 that season, along with Wilt Chamberlain. Bill Russell was never a big time scorer, despite averaging 22.8rpg himself that season, along with his 12.9ppg.
Watch the original triple-double master, Robertson, drop 37 points in this same game:
We're currently in the early stages of the 2012 NBA Playoffs but for many domestic leagues around the world where the season is over, the focus right now has shifted to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
With that in mind, let's take a brief overview of what is to come in the mens tournament. Since the team rosters -- and even some of the competing teams themselves -- are yet to be finalised, this will be a high level preview of what is to come. As the Olympics approach, we'll get into more detail with predictions and in-depth comparisons.
Firstly, let's examine the format that will be taken on by the tournament. There will be 12 teams involved in the Olympic tournament, with them being split into two groups of six teams.
A round-robin is played in each group initially (ie each team plays each other once), before going on to the knock-out round where the four highest placed teams from each group go on to battle for the medals. In other words, the two worst teams from each group are knocked out, effectively eliminating those teams that are not up to the same standard, but got through due to the nature of the qualification tournaments and regions.
Of the twelve competing nations, only nine have been decided to-date.
Great Britain will feature in the Olympics, as the host nation, after a long absence from impact in international basketball. With the likes of forwards Luol Deng (Chicago Bulls), Joel Freeland (Unicaja Malaga) and head coach Chris Finch (Houston Rockets), Team GB may surprise some on their home court.
United States are the clear favourites, as always. Whilst markets for basketball betting at the Olympics are not yet open, as far as I'm aware, there is every likelihood that Team USA will be unbackable. USA qualified for the Olympics via winning the 2010 FIBA World Championships in Turkey. Their team will likely be largely similar to that which won Gold in Turkey and Beijing, with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade (both Miami Heat), Kobe Bryant (Los Angeles Lakers), Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder), Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls) and Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves) making for a formiddable core.
Tunisia make their way into the Olympics as the winners of the 2011 FIBA Africa Championship after beating traditional African heavyweights Angola in their first ever Championship victory. Whilst Tunisia will likely be present at the Olympics just to make up the numbers, the experience for the likes of 25-year old 7'1" captain Salah Mejri (Antwerp Diamond Giants, Belgium) will be invaluable.
Argentina and Brazil are the two entrants to come out of the 2011 FIBA Americas Tournament (held in Argentina in September 2011). Both are stacked with NBA talent and are traditionally strong competitors right down to the medal stages. Argentina in particular won the 2004 Gold Medal, along with the 2008 Bronze and have a very strong history in basketball. Key players for Argentina include Manu Ginobili (San Antonio Spurs), Carlos Delfino (Milwaukee Bucks), Andres Nocioni (Philadelphia 76ers) and Luis Scola (Houston Rockets). Whilst Brazil's success in Olympic and World Championship medals came during the 1940s - 1970s, they do boast Tiago Splitter (San Antonio Spurs), Nene Hilario (Washington Wizards), Leandro Barbosa (Indiana Pacers), Anderson Varejao (Cleveland Cavaliers) in their ranks. However it is uncertain how many of those NBA-experienced players will represent at the Olympics.
Australia are the representatives from the 2011 FIBA Oceania Championship, after sweeping the three-game series against New Zealand. The disastrous news for the Boomers is that they will be without NBA centre Andrew Bogut, who will be recovering from ankle surgery, however the fine play of San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills is very heartening. Australia is led by San Antonio Spurs assistant coach, Brett Brown and boast a fine array of internationally experienced big men and wing players.
Spain and France are the two representatives to fight their way out of the 2011 FIBA Europe Championship, in what is always a tough tournament. Spain of course are the main competitors to the USA in recent years, after winning the Gold at the 2006 World Championships and taking out Silver at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Pau Gasol (Los Angeles Lakers), Rudy Fernandez (Denver Nuggets), Juan Carlos Navarro (Barcelona), Jose Calderon (Toronto Raptors), Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzlies) and Congo-born Serge Ibaka (Oklahoma City Thunder) will form the core of the Spanish team, whilst star youngster Ricky Rubio (Minnesota Timberwolves) will miss through injury sustained in NBA play against Team USA's Kobe Bryant. France are led by Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls), Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs), Nicolas Batum (Portland Trail Blazers) and Boris Diaw (Spurs). Whilst they are stacked with talent, they have yet to win an international major tournament.
China enter the tournament as the winners of the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship. Whilst they are the power of Asia, they are unlikely to make much noise in London. China is in the unfortunate situation where they have lost superstar Yao Ming to injury, whilst team stars Wang Zhizhi and Liu Wei are aging. They will rely largely on the talents of Yi Jianlian (Dallas Mavericks) and "the Chinese Magic Johnson" Sun Yue (Beijing) for any and all success.
The three final competing teams in the Olympics will be decided via a qualifying tournament.
The 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament will be held in Caracas, Venezuela from 2-8 July, 2012. The teams that will compete for the three positions in the Olympics will be:
There are more quality teams in this qualifying tournament than there are available qualifying positions. Russia, basketball-crazy Lithuania, Greece, Puerto Rico and New Zealand are the best shots at progressing.
More previews and analysis to come as the Olympic Games approach. The games will be played from 28 July to 12 August, 2012.