National Basketball Association


I cannot pinpoint the precise moment in time when the transformation kicked in, the shift from the occasional one-night stand with someone I thought of as a vapid twit into a torrid love affair of passionate tweets. But I remember the circumstance. I was drunk, quite drunk. As is my habit when I am drunk, I assaulted the kitchen: whipped cream out of the can, smoked mussels packed in what appeared to be high-viscosity motor oil, several substantial fistfuls of Cheez-Its.


[This is a guest post by Isaac Chotiner] The NBA season came to a particularly satisfying conclusion last night with the Lakers' 83-79 win over an aging Celtics squad. What could be better than seeing a Boston sports team lose, while simultaneously witnessing a completely pathetic effort from Kobe Bryant, the most unlikeable NBA star of the decade? For only the third time in 25 years, the series went seven games, and it was nice to be reminded of how exciting Game 7's are for viewers, even those who don't have a huge rooting interest in the contest.


OK, a note on the Soccer Wars. The truth is this: soccer has won.  No-one expects soccer to supplant the NFL in American affections but any comparison of soccer in America in 1990 and 2010 reveals how much progress the game, and most especially the World Cup, has made. Indeed, I was struck last weekend by how much "bigger" the tournament was in Washington, DC than it was even in 2006. And it's not just international, immigrant-stuffed cities such as DC, NYC and LA in which soccer has taken root. Among the five TV markets in which the England-USA match did best? Cincinnati.


I've been a long-time, tongue-in-cheek participant in the regular soccer Kulturkampf. But there seem to be a lot of people who take this issue deadly serious, and it's a little frightening. Max Bergmann at the Center for American Progress rounds up some of the unhinged conservative rhetoric about soccer. So let me say that, as a confirmed non-soccer fan, the prospect that America will one day become a soccer-loving nation does not strike me as dangerous in any way.


Last week, New York Times sports columnist George Vecsey called the USA-England World Cup match "the most anticipated American sports event in many years, perhaps decades." It turns out that the game drew a 7.5 overnight rating, less than any of the NBA Finals. So in fact the soccer match was the most anticipated sporting event in... almost two days.



My best friend, a notorious Americanophile, has been trying for years to get me to abandon the lush, green meadows of soccer for the thin, shiny parquet of the NBA. A dreary return match between Barcelona and Inter in the Champions League semifinals provided him with the perfect opportunity to try and convert me again. “How can you waste so many hours watching a game where the highlight is a closeup of a frustrated, unshaven Spanish player spitting on the ground?” he asked. “Even FIFA knows the game is mega boring. Why else would they try to jazz it up by changing the rules every year?



--Josh Green asks if George W. Bush doomed Mark McGwire --Chris Orr's hilarious summary of the year in American film --The Wall Street Journal looks at which occupations have lost the most jobs. Record stores rank high. --Jeffrey Goldberg, following up on Abbas Milani, takes apart the Leveretts' unconvincing defense of going soft on the Iranian hardliners --Noam likes his NBA stars armed and dangerous

The Hurt Locker

If you don't follow the NBA, the name Stephen Jackson might not immediately ring a bell. Allow me to reacquaint you. Jackson was the kindly Samaritan who followed his then-Indiana Pacers teammate Ron Artest into the stands to slap some fans around during a 2004 brawl with the Detroit Pistons. For this Jackson received a 30-game suspension. It turned out to be such a life-altering experience that Jackson would never again use his hands as a weapon in public. Not even close. The next time Jackson chose to disturb the peace, he would brandish a bona fide weapon--a 9 mm pistol.


Hillary and Dikembe

Another nice bit from that Vogue piece--this one about Hillary's ill-tempered moment in the Congo a few weeks ago: One aspect of the incident that went unreported is that [retired NBA star Dikembe] Mutombo, a national hero in the Democratic Republic of the Congo who has invested millions in his country, swooped in and rescued Clinton from the long, awkward, stunned silence that followed her outburst. He defended her and put the students oh so gracefully in their place. "Madam Secretary say hope is something is in the sky," he said in his broken English.


Medical Wizardry

For any Washington Wizards fan who's ever wondered why the team has not only so many injuries--just eight games into the season, four of its top six players, as well as two scrubs, have already missed playing time--but so many misdiagnosed injuries, poorly treated injuries, recurrent injuries, players who come back from injury too early or play too many minutes, the blog Bullets Forever points to oft-injured ex-Wizard Etan Thomas's recent question: While on the subject of team trainers and doctors, is it possible to impose a fine or forced firing when a team trainer or doctor consistently misd