Weird NBA Q&A is back! Welcome to an alley-oop of fantastical, out of bounds, bizarre questions aiming to spark some joy in the basketball-shaped hole in your hearts.
I’ll be playing along as well, tossing my own questions off the backboard. If you want to play along, drop me a DM on Twitter or toss your answers on the timeline. Y’all ready?
You get to sit courtside for every game in the 2020 NBA Playoffs, but the price is that your favorite team misses the postseason for the next three years straight. Do you do it?
Charles LaRocca: Easy answer for me: Hell no! As awesome as it would be to have a front-row seat to watch Zion Williamson make grown men look like children, I must pass. The future of the Pelicans is too bright, and I can’t let my own dreams get in the way of the greater good. Also, the first three years are very important for how the Zion era will unfold in NOLA, and the Pels need to establish a winning identity early on.
Morten Stig Jensen: The boring answer here would be “I don’t have a favorite team, so I’m taking my talents to ALL the playoff games without having to pay the check.”
But while that may be true, it’s not very entertaining, is it? So let me dial back a clock a bit.
I was a Bulls fan for 22 years (really missed out by not sticking with them for one more season, so I could get No. 23 under my belt). As such, I grew very accustomed to deep incompetence and frequent postseasons without representation. So I’d go with the playoff games. Marcuras Karnisley (God, we need a better name for those guys. GarPax was simple, yet beautiful) have their work cut out for them anyway. So three more years wouldn’t hurt. Come at me, Bulls nation.
Chris Trew: If I was a fan of the Hornets, Kings or Knicks, then hell yeah. This experience would allow me to fill my tank with enough good basketball that I wouldn’t mind a guaranteed spot on the couch in the postseason for the next three seasons. But I’m a Pelicans guy, and it feels selfish to put that on the squad, even though it is a hypothetical that I just made up. So unless I can sit courtside wearing an RJ Barrett jersey and a Steve Nash wig pretending to not be completely out of my mind about the Pelicans snatching Memphis’ spot in the top eight, my answer is no thanks.
What’s your All-Asterisk starting five for the 2020 playoffs? The players who will have the biggest asterisk-shaped obstacle to climb if they find success this Summer.
LaRocca: Russell Westbrook: Westbrook is one of those players whose legacy would get boosted incredibly if he got a ring, but he also has a fair number of detractors, and a win under these circumstances make him an easy candidate for an asterisk.
James Harden: Same reasons as Westbrook: Both players are desperate for a championship, but because no one really likes the Rockets or Harden, my guess is many will chalk it up to being a fluke and say they wouldn’t have won in normal conditions.
LeBron James: Let me get this straight: LeBron is one of the best basketball players ever, and he doesn’t need another ring to prove this, but he is chasing Michael Jordan and his mystical six championships. The validity of ring No. 4 would be a topic for debate shows for years, and there would be a number of people who wouldn’t recognize it if Lebron were to win.
Giannis Antetokounmpo: The reigning MVP led the Bucks to the best regular-season record when the league was shut down. Yet, despite this, he still faced numerous questions about his team’s ability to take that next step and win a championship – partly due to his supporting cast and partly due to his lack of jump shot. Even if Giannis were to win, I feel those same detractors would still find a way to question the legitimacy of his championship, and he would have to win another to cement his legacy.
Joel Embiid: Embiid and the Sixers might benefit the most from this one-site playoffs. Already a team stacked with size and length, they won’t have to travel, which is good news for them, because the Sixers were awful on the road. With that variable eliminated and with the Sixers maybe having the best defensive personnel in the league, they go from fringe contenders to having a very realistic shot of winning the title.
Jensen: None. No asterisks. I know this debate has been raging for a while, but to be honest, I think it’s a bit insulting. We’re dealing with a global pandemic. Over 350,000 people worldwide have died. We’re all in this together, and I have no wish in looking back a few years from now and go “Oh, that player’s ring doesn’t count because the world got kicked in the nuts by a murdering virus.”
In fact, I’d argue this year might have the levelest playing field, when you really think about it. All teams more or less just had an involuntary offseason. If or when the league returns (I’m not writing anything in stone until I see an actual tip-off), teams will be more healthy, have fresher legs and fewer nagging injuries. That’s the dream scenario, right?
Trew: I’m with Morten here. Trust that it’s our responsibility as the NBA fan community to hold down the fort this summer no matter what happens in the NBA Finals. Let talk radio fill their airwaves with asterisk talk and let the 2020 NBA champions and their fanbase have their champagne quarantine moments.
There’s a lot of bad going on in the world today, so let’s punctuate this week’s post with positivity. Who’s an #NBATwitter account that is criminally under-followed?
LaRocca: Absolutely, and with that said, I hope everyone is staying safe, taking a step back and realizing what’s really important in this world. As for Twitter, there are plenty of great accounts and interactions, but I want to keep it in Pels twitter. To me, he’s just a great guy who offers plenty of insight in a number of topics. I read all of his work, and he’s one of my favorite people to talk to, and that’s @jessecbrooks.
Jensen: Man. Putting me on the spot right there. So look, obviously, I gotta pimp my guy Bryan Toporek who is my podcast partner-in-crime, but allow me to attach a few more words to this, because I have a hot take.
Zach Lowe from ESPN is obviously a must-follow if you’re a basketball fan, or if you just believe in people who are deep down good. Lowe is famous and well-known in most circles, but dude is sitting at just over 800K followers when he should have five million-plus.
Also fitting that above description is Howard Beck from Bleacher Report. Less than 200K? Are you KIDDING me?! Come on, people. Go follow quality. Right now.
Trew: I’ve always enjoyed David Dennis Jr.’s takes on basketball and views of the world. He used to live in New Orleans, he went to school with Stephen Curry, and now he lives in Atlanta. I’ve learned a lot from him, and you probably will, too. Also, shoutout to one of last week’s contributors, Allana Tachauer, who is a quality follow.
Looking for a fun basketball read? Buy my book where I eavesdropped on and interacted with NBA players behind the visitor’s bench in New Orleans for multiple seasons.