Traditions are sacred in sports. They’re how we mark the passage of time. Spring doesn’t start until baseball comes back; fall’s not real until football returns; Thanksgiving doesn’t feel right until you’re passed out on the couch during the second football game. By that same token, it doesn’t feel like basketball season until we’re sifting through hundreds of stupid quotes and ridiculous photos from NBA Media Day. This is our tradition. It’s sacred. It’s how we mark the new year.
There may be some sad, lonely souls out there who think Media Day is contrived or stupid or a waste of everyone’s time, but those people are missing the point. You could make the argument that the entire NBA regular season is a waste of everyone’s time. The personalities are what make it fun, though. That’s what Media Day’s all about. It’s a snapshot of all the weird, stupid stories that make the NBA so addictive, all year long.
Everyone’s either gained or lost 15 pounds, at least 45 different players added some post moves over the summer, and everybody’s in a good mood. Players are laughing, coaches aren’t miserable — it’s a celebration. And the Internet has made it easier than ever to follow along with the festivities all over the league. So, with that mind, here are your power rankings for 2014 NBA Media Day.
We begin at rock bottom.
Our one exception to the “good mood” rule of thumb for Media Day. Imagine a big party, where everyone’s having a good time, laughing, dancing, taking stupid photos. Then you look over in the corner and see one person who’s dead sober and clearly just miserable. At Media Day 2014, that person is David West. From Indy Cornrows:
The biggest key is giving yourself a realistic outlook of what you are and who you are. You have to give yourself a realistic starting point. So obviously we can’t be talking about competing for a championship, even being in title contention, we’ve [sic] just have to talk about figuring out a way to get the best lineups on the floor … What your intention was in Indiana, that reality is no longer here. That’s just me being me. I’m not going to create this persona like we can just sort of keep going at the pace and direction that we were going. I think you just set yourself up for failure in those moments.
On the bright side, lowering the bar means it’s easier to succeed! Right? That’s where this is going? Oh … He’s thinking of retirement?
I’m not one of those guys that’s going to play forever, that’s just never been my intention. I always said I was going to play ten years and everything beyond ten years would be an added bonus and that’s where I am now.
OK then. Dark times in Indiana. Let’s move on.
16. Long-Sleeved Jerseys
Media Day wouldn’t be complete without a couple of new jerseys that make us want to declare war on Adidas headquarters. Somehow that’s become an annual tradition in the NBA.
Those look like the kind of off-brand thing you find on a discount rack at T.J.Maxx. Like something your mom would buy you that you’d have to pretend to be excited about. Alternate interpretation: The Warriors are wearing trash bags next season.
Meanwhile, in Orlando …
It’s one thing to try to foist the sleeves on everybody, but they’re compounding the problem with jerseys that would be ugly as hell regardless. Stop it, Adidas. The Magic should really just go back to the jerseys they had in 1995. This isn’t that complicated.
15. O.J. Mayo
Asked about reviving O.J. Mayo’s career …
Coach Kidd has jokes already! Our excitement about the Bucks is well documented. Just know that O.J. Mayo is an important piece of the puzzle there. As much fun as it’ll be watching Jabari and Giannis all year, it’ll be just as entertaining watching grumpy O.J. Mayo continue to come to terms with life in Milwaukee and the real cost of taking that $24 million guarantee last year. Either he turns into a leader and we love him for it, or the misery continues. That’s its own sort of fun. For now, he’s still breathing, and that’s a good start.
The Bucks took Media Day straight to the people with a Reddit AMA, and it included this answer from Chris Wright about his favorite Giannis story:
I got a couple…I gotta think … so one day he didn’t win one-on-one in workouts and he won one or two and was getting made (fun of) cuz we were calling him a rookie. Next day, he won six one-on-ones and started running around and circles screaming “Six! Six! That’s what I do!” Then walked out the gym – didn’t see him for days.
Oh and when I first met him, he introduced himself as the Greek Freek. Didn’t even tell me his name.
It’s all about Giannis. It’s all about the Bucks. Let’s all move to Milwaukee.
It’s a new era.
That might seem like the perfect sad metaphor for what happened to the Heat, but don’t worry. Just down the hall from that photo, the Heat have several championship trophies to display. No sympathy is necessary. Send your love to Indiana instead. As for the Heat, just get ready to watch Chalmers do work. He’s been waiting his whole life for this. He’s not scared. He’s Bill Bellamy in Any Given Sunday, looking in the mirror, putting on eye black, reminding himself that he’s the Best. Point Guard. Ever.
IT’S A NEW ERA.
Note: If Raymond Felton were still in New York, there’s no way that spread would survive until the media showed up.
Elsewhere, Carmelo says this summer he got advice from Jordan, Kobe, and Pippen about playing in the triangle, and he “put it in a bottle” before the upcoming year. He also says he’s the most underrated superstar in the league. Both of those quotes are probably true, but both of those quotes just make me sad. I’m still not ready to acknowledge he didn’t choose the Bulls. As for Chicago …
11. Tony Snell Gets a Nickname
I fully support this, because it’s not like Tony Snell has any discernible personality otherwise. He’s B-side Kawhi Leonard. But now he’s Snelly Cat.
Speaking of which, what if the Bulls were characters from Friends? Noah would be Chandler. Taj Gibson would be Joey. Pau would be Ross, Rose would be Rachel, Jimmy Butler would be … Monica, maybe? None of those comparisons really works, and this was a horrible idea. I’m sorry. Kirk Hinrich is definitely Gunther, though.
Already making an impact.
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Lance mentioned Michael Jordan’s habit of hitting the practice court, and said that if MJ does it now, “I’m going to try to get up in him.” Between the new (old) jerseys, the new lineup, and the very real possibility that Lance and MJ get into a fistfight on the practice court, there’s a lot to be excited about in Charlotte this year. I can’t wait.
9. Ricky Rubio
This is the perfect Media Day quote.
A skill that promises to be improved? YUP. Sounds impressive? Sure. Involves a mysterious guru? Indeed it does. Vague and pretty much meaningless? Completely.
But listen, nobody’s complaining. First, there’s no such thing as too much Mike Penberthy in this world. And second, we all want to see Rubio shine in Minnesota this year. Here’s hoping he bounces back and we can shout out Penberthy all year long.
The Rubio Revival is coming. I can feel it.
Think of the NBA as a collection of 30 families. Each has its different histories, different strengths, different weaknesses, various heroes and villains. Each comes with a different set of quirks. Now imagine that you can join one of those families for exactly one year and just spend all your time living at the center of it all. Who do you choose?
There is only one correct answer.
The more things change, the more Monta stays the same. Long live Monta ball. Long live whoever gave him the camera here.
6. Kevin Garnett
This is just to remind you that Kevin Garnett’s probably retiring at the end of this season and we should savor every single KG interview while he’s still here. Some guys leave basketball and head straight for TV. When Garnett leaves, we probably won’t hear from him for 25 years.
All that just makes me extra grateful to have him harassing some reporter about his Wallabees. And yes: If you’re keeping track, Kevin Garnett is so old, he remembers when Wu-Tang tried to make Wallabees hot. Andrew Wiggins was still two years away from being born at that point. KG forever.
5. The Spurs
And so is Boris.
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And I don’t know when it became this impossible to hate the Spurs, but we’re here now, and there’s no turning back.
4. Nick Young
Some players are just born winners. Kobe Bryant is a born winner. Nick Young is a born Media Day winner. He personifies the spirit. Via ESPN’s Arash Markazi, here’s Nick Young …
- On the double-edged sword of nicknames: “Sometimes in the streets, people say Swaggy. I like to hear Nick sometimes, or Nicholas.”
- On domestic bliss: “I run my household. Not all the time, well, sometimes.”
- On summer anxiety and/or domestic bliss: “Melo had me worried. I didn’t know what he would do. I knew Lala liked LA. Women have the final say. I knew it would be over for me.”
- On goals: “I might win MVP or try to go for 6th Man of the Year or Most Improved or Defensive Player of the Year. I got robbed last year.”
- On preseason mentality: “I’m feeling great. I’m a star.”
- On teaching: “I was showing Kobe the ropes this summer. I had a sit down with coach Byron Scott telling him how he should play.”
- On leadership: “Clarkson has to call me Daddy Swag. Julius has to call me Uncle Swag. It’s a family affair. It’s rookie duties.”
Between Nick Young and Kobe’s recent pappardelle summit with Arianna Huffington, it’s a great time to be a Lakers fan.
3. Steven Adams
It’s surprising it took this long, really.
He claims the mustache is just temporary …
Here’s hoping it becomes permanent. Whether you think of Steven Adams as your favorite NBA villain and a lock to start at least five fights this season, or you look at this half-drunk crazy person as your favorite cult hero, a mustache enhances the whole persona.
2. Serge Ibaka and Mitch McGary
Elsewhere in OKC …
I wish every day were Media Day.
1. Sexual Chocolates
I don’t know how or why this happened, but I’ve never been prouder of my favorite team. Welcome back, Wizards. Welcome back, NBA. We did it.