These NBA alternate jerseys are an eyesore

Image for article titled These NBA alternate jerseys are an eyesore

NBA, I’m ready to bargain. I complain regularly about the uniforms because back when the NBA was a proper league, the home team wore white except for the Los Angeles Lakers gold. I can accept that those days are long gone, but Adam Silver please meet me 25 percent of the way. If a classic matchup is taking place — like say the Lakers and New York Knicks — let’s show some reverence for history and wear the traditional jerseys.

It happened again

This is the second time in less than a week that the NBA has besmirched a nationally televised matchup between two of the NBA’s most historic franchises. On Tuesday, the Knicks broke out those black City Edition jerseys and that ugly black court. The Lakers wore white, and not the snazzy Sunday whites either. They went with a hybrid of their old white and blue jerseys with gold trim.

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So the decision for the night was to go with colors that don’t exist in either team’s logo, one uniform was somewhat of a throwback and the other looked like it belonged to Batman’s rec-league team. And to top it all off, the design of the league’s most legendary court was changed to the point where it didn’t even look like Madison Square Garden on television. The retro style of the Lakers’ jerseys wasn’t awful but if we’re going to do throwbacks, how about the colors both franchises wore when they played against each other three out of four NBA Finals in the 1970s?

Not just at MSG, but also in Boston

And let’s not forget about the atrocity that took place at TD Garden on Saturday night. ABC’s NBA Saturday night special between the Lakers and the Boston Celtics. The disrespect that was shown to the rivalry that saved the league was appalling.

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For one, the Lakers wore gold. The Lakers used to never wear their gold on the road, and that most certainly was the case during those heated 1980s NBA Finals clashes. As disrespectful as that choice was to this rivalry, at least it’s a style the Lakers did use at that time. The Celtics broke out their new forest-green City Edition uniform. That clash of colors looked like a bunch of boogers jumping around on the court.

I know those jerseys were designed to honor Bill Russell. However, if the NBA really wanted to honor him, how about having the two teams wear the jerseys that they wore when his squad upset Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, and Jerry West in 1969? The league makes the decision on which jerseys the players wear for every game, so it should keep this in mind when its most storied teams are playing against each other.

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One of the charms about the NBA is that it’s a newer league than the NFL, NHL, and MLB, and also very different. With less equipment and no barrier between the fans and the players, the feel is more intimate, and it carries over outside of the arena. You can’t walk around school in Air Rickey baseball spikes, but a fresh pair of Air Jordans could make someone the coolest kid in the building.

Dare to be different

The NBA has always been willing to dare to be different to better market the product, but there is a point when it can deviate too far from its roots. I can deal with the coaches in quarter zips. Some think it looks amateurish, but if Bill Belichick can dress the way he does on the sidelines then Doc Rivers shouldn’t be forced to sweat for two hours in a suit.

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An alternate jersey — perhaps even two — is fine. I loved the cerulean (shout out to you Miranda) Orlando Magic jersey of the early 1990s, and even some of the Christmas Day uniforms. That being said, there is some tradition in the NBA.

I wasn’t alive for Magic vs. Larry, but I know the significance of it. Sure the Knicks don’t make the playoffs much anymore, but Madison Square Garden is the Mecca of basketball. Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, and white Ford Broncos — those are memories attached to that building and the Knicks that I’ll never forget.

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So feel free NBA to play around with the uniforms in other matchups. When the Lakers play the Dallas Mavericks, or the Memphis Grizzlies on national TV put the teams’ City vs. Statement edition uniforms or whatever, but show some reverence to the history of the league.

It may be shorter than the other leagues, but the history that exists means a great deal to those of us who were hypnotized by the NBA a long time ago, and the spell was never broken. When classic matchups — especially the out-of-conference ones — take place, go with a classic atmosphere. Leave Batman and boogers for another day.

When it comes to load management, Steph Curry says it’s not the players who want it

Image for article titled When it comes to load management, Steph Curry says it's not the players who want it

The gentrifiers of Brooklyn caught a raw deal on Monday night. The Los Angeles Lakers are in New York on a back-to-back, meaning that LeBron James and Anthony Davis were only going to play one game. People who purchased tickets for the Brooklyn Nets game received the short end of the load management stick. It’s the same end of the stick attendees of the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers’ most recent matchup were stuck with on Jan. 20, when Stephen Curry and several other Warriors’ starters did not play.

Load management is a bummer for the fans, especially when they want to see players on teams that only visit once per year. All NBA teams take road trips, and a back-to-back will likely be on the schedule during that period. Most star players do not dress for both of those games. Following the Warriors’ 128-120 win against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Curry reminded those who have a problem with players resting that the people in the jerseys and shorts don’t make the decision on when they’re out of the lineup.

Steph Curry on load management

“I campaign to play every game,” Curry told the media. “That’s the misconception about load management. It’s never the player that’s saying, ‘Hey, I wanna sit.’”

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That is most certainly a message that Charles Barkley, Stephen A. Smith, Chris Mad Dog” Russo, Mike Greenberg, or anyone who has an issue with players missing a few games in which they might be healthy enough to play should hear. Barkley has recently been the most outspoken when he said on Sirius XM Radio’s NBA Today that he wants the owners to “put their foot in [the players’] asses in this next CBA.”

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Sir Charles’ ire shouldn’t be directed at Curry or anyone else. The person who makes that call for the Warriors is Health and Performance Director David Taylor.

Draymond Green’s thoughts

“We have the best science guy in the game in Dave Taylor. Why would we ignore him?” Draymond Green said to Fox Sports’ Ric Buecher. “There are guys who played in this league who tried to play all 82 games who can’t walk anymore. So, toughness is what you make of it.”

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Do people really believe that four Warriors starters met privately and decided not to play in Cleveland, or that Davis and James did the same on the flight to New York, or that Manu Ginobli, Tony Parker, and Tim Duncan all elected not to play on a TNT Thursday night in 2013?

These are decisions made by the coaches, player personnel, and training staff. People who are familiar with Larry Bird’s back going out on him before he played 10 NBA seasons. They remember Barkley’s knee problems in the mid-1990s. Isiah Thomas ruptured an Achilles tendon in 1994 and retired after 13 seasons. Kevin Durant ruptured an Achilles in his 12th season and averaged a shade under 30 points per game in his 14th.

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Extending careers

Players’ careers are being extended and championship windows are staying open longer. The Warriors won their first title with Curry in 2015, and fifth championship in 2022. Hell, the San Antonio Spurs won their first championship in 1999, and their fifth title in 2014. Celtics’ fans loved watching Bird dive into the stands for loose balls every night, but they probably would have preferred him to be healthy in the early 1990s, and the Celtics competing against the Chicago Bulls for NBA Championships.

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The NBA is a grind and it’s getting more and more physically taxing every year. Players are coming in with significant mileage on their bodies from rigorous AAU and foreign professional league schedules. Now they fly to 29 other cities and have to guard Nikola Jokić on the break and in the paint.

For those who buy individual game tickets to NBA games, yes it will continue to be a letdown when management sits the best players down but things could be worse. You could be a Denver Nuggets fan in Colorado. Your favorite team has the best record in the Western Conference, but like most cable subscribers in the state, you are an Xfinity customer and therefore have no access to the channel in which the games are aired.

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Success for the business will always be prioritized over day-to-day consumer satisfaction. So those of you who buy tickets on a load management day, feel free to be upset. Just make sure you’re angry at the correct people. The same decision-makers in other industries are enjoying record profits while your egg prices are rising.

Another AFC championship loss and the Chiefs’ run will begin to resemble the Pistons of the 2000s

The early-aughts Pistons always got close, but only brought it home once.

Over the last five years, the Kansas City Chiefs have been the closest thing we’ve seen to a dynasty in the NFL. Having won only one Super Bowl, the clock is ticking on their opportunity to claim the dynasty title. Playing in five consecutive AFC title games is an accomplishment but bringing home just one Vince Lombardi trophy is strikingly reminiscent of another almost/mini-dynasty team in another sport.

The NBA’s Detroit Pistons of the 2000s, led by Ben Wallace, Richard Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace, and Chauncey Billups, were mainstays in the Eastern Conference Finals between 2003 and 2008. Detroit advanced to the ECF six years in a row. That was something that hadn’t really been done by an NBA franchise with no superstar. In the end, like Kansas City, Detroit brought back one Larry O’Brien to Motown.

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While the Chiefs and Pistons play vastly different sports and were built with contrasting styles, their journeys to winning are quite similar. Andy Reid’s Chiefs went to their first AFC title game during the ’18 campaign and lost to New England. KC followed that up by making a run to the next two Super Bowls, winning the first over San Francisco and losing the second to Tampa Bay. They’ve advanced to two more conference championship games since then, including their upcoming matchup with Cincinnati in this year’s AFC title game.

Detroit’s run breaks down pretty much the same way. These Pistons made it to the ECF for the first time in ’02-03, losing to the New Jersey Nets. The next year Detroit got over the hump, upsetting the Los Angeles Lakers, led by Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, in five games in the NBA Finals. That was followed up by another Finals appearance where the Pistons lost to the San Antonio Spurs in seven games. After that, Detroit returned to three straight ECF but never played in another NBA Finals.

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Dynasty or bust

If the Chiefs lose to the Bengals again on Sunday and fail to make it back to the Super Bowl, this could be the fate of this team very soon. The most significant difference aside from the sport is the Chiefs have the biggest superstar in football leading their team. And that’s what will make this run even more wasteful if they can’t squeeze another Super Bowl victory out of this dominant run. Having a generational talent like Patrick Mahomes and only winning one ring in a five or six-year span should be criminal.

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After the first one, many figured the Chiefs would have won at least two by now, if not three. Sunday isn’t a legacy game for Mahomes individually because he’s got so many years ahead of him. But for this team’s current lot of players, the time to reach that dynastic level is running out. Failing again in the AFC Championship game brings this run of dominance down a notch. What they’ve managed to build in Kansas City has been something to behold. Hell, at the least, they’ve been the most exciting team to watch during this time. You couldn’t say the same about those Pistons teams unless defense makes you feel all tingly inside.

For the Chiefs, Sunday is a must-win in terms of team legacy. You can’t keep knocking at the door and not walk through it again. Yes, it could be worse. They could be the Buffalo Bills, who went to four Super Bowls in a row and couldn’t win one. At least these Chiefs climbed that hurdle early, but now it’s about stacking up rings and building on that legacy. Of the four remaining teams, KC needs a win most on Sunday. They need another Super Bowl now because the Chiefs are the only team with a dynasty hanging in the balance.