Culture of Hoops

Three Forced Narratives: Kobe Sucks, a Rose Wilts, Love in L.A.

Image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Keith Allison/Flickr.

Baller Mind Frame’s No Layups brings you the hottest NBA stories mixed with personal opinion from our very own Aaron Lanton. Check it often and absorb the knowledge we’re dropping on you!

Narratives are a necessary component for driving interest in sports. Rivalries fuel our passion. Epic comebacks are worthy of legend. Expectations drive our level of satisfaction or disappointment. Narratives are fun to talk about at the dinner tables, online forums, and barbershops, but sometimes we get so caught up in narratives that we forget the simple joy of watching the best athletes in the world be awesome. The media plays a large part in how this functions, and has been particularly ridiculous for NBA coverage at the start of the 2014-15 regular season. Let’s take a look at three of the most forced narratives two weeks after real games began.

The Los Angeles Lakers stink and it’s all Kobe Bryant‘s fault

Two franchises can legitimately claim that the sky has already fallen. The Oklahoma City Thunder who are missing Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook for more than a month which almost certainly guarantees that won’t make the playoffs in the Western Conference. Not only are people not counting the Thunder out, but many are sympathetic to their bad luck and predicting they can still make the playoffs.

When the Los Angeles Lakers struggle after losing two starters for the entire season, everything is Bryant’s fault. Bryant took too much money , attempts too many shots, and should demand a trade to the New York Knicks so he can reunite with Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher.

This also ignores what the Lakers’ front office didn’t accomplish during free agency which includes not signing productive, affordable free agents such as Isiah Thomas because they put all of their in their eggs in the Carmelo Anthony basket. Even so, the Lakers’ current struggles would not be as pronounced if Steve Nash and Juluis Randle were able to play.

Regardless,we only have one season after this one to appreciate watching Bryant play. Love it while it’s still around.

Derrick Rose missed games. EVERYONE PANIC!

Years will have to pass without a significant injury before I am able to watch Rose play without holding my breath the entire time. Rose hasn’t played a game in December since 2012 so the hysteria when he missed a few games is understandable but overstated. Rose has retained much of the explosiveness and agility that allowed him to snatch the 2010-11 MVP award from LeBron James.

A handful of people in human history can go up for a shot, make a decision to pass while in mid-air, and double pump to fake out the defender TWICE before making the easy assist. Greg Monroe had no clue where the ball went and it happened in front of him. Craziness.

Again, another situation where we need to just let things happen and enjoy the ride. Rose is okay. The next time he misses a game, take a deep breath and relax. You will know when it’s actually time to freak out.

 The Cleveland Cavaliers are not scoring 134.47 points per game,  LeBron is calling out teammates, and Kevin Love might opt-out ! AHHHH!

Several NBA previews predicted that the Cleveland Cavaliers would immediately score at an unfathomable pace. The spacing, the outlet passes, the shooting – no one would be capable of guarding what the Cavaliers bring to the table. As of November 11, 2014, the team is scoring 102.3 points per game (11th), and allowing 103.0 per game (25th) for a point differential of -0.7 (16th).  They are playing .500 ball (3-3) to start the season which should have been expected. Oh wait, what am I saying.


As a side note, anytime you play “I’m Coming Home” after “Turn Down For What,” you are doing too much. Pick a theme for the de-facto part owner of the team and rock it.

LeBron James openly criticized teammates in the media for bad habits after three games. James’ criticism should have been kept in-house (along with an argument between James and Kyrie Irving) but this isn’t worth discussing yet. This will be incredibly interesting if similar sentiments are expressed in April 2015 as the playoffs approach. Right now, it’s a complete waste of time. There’s no way to fairly evaluate a team, positive or negatively, in less than three weeks of games. That’s why the most recent big name on the rumor mill should make us all throw up our collective hands.

Kevin Love has not signed an extension with the Cleveland Cavaliers.  We don’t know if the Cavaliers haven’t offered, or Love has chosen to wait on those discussions. The reason this doesn’t matter is that the Cavaliers are not trading Love before the trade deadline. The final results of the NBA season will influence where Love believes he should continue his career. He’s not making that decision in November. More importantly, the Love to Lakers rumor isn’t used as narrative fodder if the Cavaliers were playing better to start the season.

Panicking simply to garner attention is just nonsense. Narratives that fans gravitate to can be crafted without relying on contemporary leanings toward pessimism.  Speculation rarely alleviates a situation and tends to ramp up anxieties, turning the joy of following sports for fans into a constant demand for perfection. I want to remind you to love the game. Don’t let expectations and frustration ruin why you became someone willing to read 1000 words about idiotic NBA narratives. We are fans before we are critics.

Support your team in the way you choose and enjoy the roller coaster ride of the NBA season without treating every little incident like Doomsday.

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