The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the Internet
1. LeBron explains how the Cavaliers’ ‘grit squad’ won Game 2 – Paul Flannery, SB Nation
You’re going to read a recap of last night’s game at some point today. In fact, if you’re a certain kind of person you’ve probably already read three or four of them. No matter what, you should read Paul Flannery’s, who builds the emotion of the game into the piece. It’s built on the same quotes everyone else is using, Steph Curry’s “I doubt this will happen again,” LeBron James’s “We needed everything of [Dellavedova.]” Flannery just happens to be an exceptional writer. So whether you missed the game, or just want to relive the feeling, he’ll take you there.
NBA profiles are a tricky genre. Most of the players in The Association have a pretty fascinating backstory, but in the hands of an unskilled writer all the complexities of a life and its unique challenges can get boiled down into just another story of triumph over adversity. Part of what makes this Lazenby profile so enjoyable is how much he plays down the “Steph Curry, son of a world-class shooter, was an underdog his whole life” angle that is so popular. Instead you get the story of a kid who grew up working on his jump shot so he could be just like his dad, and a father who has always wanted the best for his son. It’s really sweet.
For Knicks fans, watching J.R. Smith this season on the Cavs has felt a lot like getting dumped in high school and having your ex immediately start dating a 23-year-old with a dope car. So it must be cathartic that the last two games have been the equivalent of that ex showing up wasted to prom, vomiting on the dance floor and spending most of the night crying in the bathroom. Dan Devine breaks down the details of Smith’s transgressions last night with the exacting care of a conspiracy theorist obsessing over the Zapruder film, but layers in enough sympathy to keep it from feeling mean. After all, seeing J.R. on the bench at the end with an expression of shocked relief on his face, it was impossible not to feel bad for the guy. You know, unless you’re from New York.
We’re in the middle of a miniature Allen Iversonnaisance, or at least a book and a documentary came out recently and it has people feeling nostalgic about the man. Either way, it’s producing writing like this Bergeron piece, which could be considered a review of Kent Babb’s Not a Game, but is more of a meandering examination of what heroes mean in decline, or how to keep cheering for someone after they’ve let you down. And in the end, it’s another reminder that no matter how much you want to project yourself onto an athlete – no matter how much you relate to Iverson’s work ethic, LeBron’s emotion, Boogie’s volatility – you don’t know them at all.
You’ve never heard of Gary Liss. Which is reasonable, because he’s not a particularly famous dude! He is, however, a Golden State Warriors season ticket holder, and has been since 1962, which means he has some stories. A lot of them come down to “man it was so cool to be an NBA fan for 50 years,” but the dude snuck into the home locker room after the Warriors won the 1975 title, so you can’t blame him for being nostalgic. It’s also a nice reminder that if you’re not from Oakland or Cleveland, you can’t really go wrong rooting for either of these teams. No matter who wins, a long-suffering fan base is going to feel a moment of transcendent joy. That’s worth celebrating.