Well, I honestly don’t know what type of conditions will be available for the Billabong Pipe Masters to finish off their event. It looks like this morning will be pumping and there should be some good heats for us viewers and for the competitors, but there are still 27 heats to go. With only about a half-day’s worth of good waves (maybe) before the end of the waiting period on Saturday, I’m probably about as anxious as the event organizers. There’s a lot at stake, from the world title to the Triple Crown title to re-qualification. Mother Nature doesn’t appear to be on the same page as the ASP schedulers and how this plays out is anyone’s guess.
I spoke with Triple Crown Communications Director Jodi Wilmott on Tuesday and she said they would not be filing for an extension.
So … now what? Well, it seems like I haven’t written about the NBA all season, which, for a basketball junkie like myself, has been quite an accomplishment. It’s given me the shakes on more than one occasion, especially with so many great games and story lines already. But with Thursday’s report that a big trade sending Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks is imminent, it’s high time for some hoops hype.
First off, Laker fans: Ugh. I’d say I feel sorry for you, but it would be a lie. An obvious lie. I wouldn’t say I’m gleeful – how could I be gleeful? My favorite team is the Knicks – but I think the Lakers are getting what they deserve. They gave Kobe Bryant a ridiculous contract, let Pau Gasol walk away and decided that both defense and 3-pointers aren’t really important.
I actually think the move to let Jeremy Lin come off the bench will be beneficial. Lin can still be a really good player in this league, but he’s somebody who will defer to a personality like Kobe’s. I was happy a couple weeks ago when I did see Lin make something of a statement with his decision making. Kobe had taken the ball to the rim and missed, of course thinking he was fouled. He stayed under the basket, yelled at the refs and watched the other team take off on a fast break. Lin hustled back and helped force a turnover when the Lakers were outnumbered.
He took the ball to the middle and when he reached half-court, there was Kobe standing at the 3-point line with his arms waving high in the air. Lin could have passed his way and L.A. would have gotten a decent look, but Lin instead passed to a streaking Nick Young, who had gotten back on defense, unlike the Mamba. Young put up the shot and nailed it, while Kobe still looked on with his hands in the air, seemingly shocked that he didn’t get the ball.
Good for Lin. Don’t reward that behavior. But Lin may be on the court more with the second unit now, where he and Young could be a nice duo. However, the Lakers are still a bad defensive team and they can’t compete in the West. They’ve been a little better lately, but they’re only 4-14 against other Western Conference teams.
With the Rondo news, the Mavericks may be the favorite to come out of the West. If they are able to trot out a starting five of Rondo, Monta Ellis, Chandler Parsons, Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler, that’s a group that should scare every team in the league. It would allow Ellis to roam more freely as a shooting guard, his natural position. It would also set up a lot more catch and shoot opportunities for Parsons and Nowitzki, while shoring up the perimeter defense. Rondo up top and Chandler down low would make up for a lot of their other defensive weaknesses.
Golden State has been terrific, but I’m still not a huge believer in their postseason prospects, especially if center Andrew Bogut isn’t healthy down the stretch. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are one of the best backcourt duos the league has seen in quite a while, but they will need Bogut to anchor their defense if they plan to win more than a series or two in the Western Conference playoffs. And while Curry is getting plenty of MVP buzz, Thompson might actually be the better all-around player. Curry needs to be masked on defense, while Thompson guards his position very well and has been an even more efficient shooter this season.
The Spurs and Grizzlies are still going to have plenty to say about who comes out of the West. They played the best game of the season on Wednesday night – which is saying a lot with so many great games to choose from already. San Antonio knows how to preserve its aging veterans, but I think Memphis is more likely to make a deep postseason run. The Spurs gave everything they had to win it last season and avenge the previous disappointing loss to the Heat. It’s hard to accomplish that and then come back and do it all again the next year.
As for the East … well, the East stinks. Again. I’m not writing about it. Because it stinks. And it stinks even more that Jabari Parker is now out for the season, but that’s a different topic altogether.
So if the surf is less than ideal and the end of the 2014 season isn’t quite up to the level we’d hoped for, at least the NBA has been exceptional and there’s still so much left to look forward to.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.