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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Return of the NBA

From what I understand, I’m the weird one who likes the NBA more than college basketball. For oddballs like me, today is a great day: the NBA is officially back. The season opens tonight with a TNT double-header of the Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs in the early game and the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Lakers in the nightcap.

Not only is the NBA back, but it’s back with the best possible broadcast. TNT host Ernie Johnson will be surrounded by his familiar set of analysts: former NBA players Shaquille O’Neal, Charles “Chuck” Barkley and Kenny Smith.

No disrespect to ESPN’s NBA countdown coverage, but TNT absolutely dominates that aspect of NBA presentation. Listening to Ernie, Chuck, Shaq and Kenny make fun of each other is downright hilarious.

For those who don’t catch many NBA games, those four joking around during pre- and post-game is must-see TV in itself. Throw in the double-header action and you’re sitting pretty.

Don’t believe it? Try not to laugh when Chuck calls someone a knucklehead or Shaq cues up a meme of Chuck’s head on a baby.

On a more serious note, there are several new storylines in the association, chief of which revolves around LeBron James and his triumphant return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Not only did the King recapture his hometown throne, he brought with him one of, if not the best, power forwards in the league in Kevin Love and several of his buddies from Miami.

Don’t expect Cleveland to pull a Lakers-esque fiasco either. LeBron and Love fit well with the current core of flashy point guard Kyrie Irving AKA Uncle Drew, Energizer bunny spark plug Anderson Varejao and never-seen-a-shot-he-didn’t-like shooting guard Dion Waiters.

One thing is for sure: There will not be a lack of offense, or excitement, in Cleveland this year.

The seemingly always under-the-radar San Antonio Spurs are coming off yet another Larry O’Brien trophy and return almost everyone from last year. Yet according to Las Vegas odds, the Spurs aren’t even the favorites to win the 2015 championship; Cleveland is.

That’s exactly how Spurs coach Gregg Popovich wants it. Popovich excels at motivating his players through slights and passing his sarcastic attitude onto his players, creating an aura that screams, “We don’t care what anyone thinks, says or does.”

On a more negative note, injuries have ravished the league from everyone from franchise players (Kevin Durant, Paul George and Rajon Rondo) to up-and-comers (Bradley Beal and Michael Carter-Williams) to experienced veterans (Steve Nash).

Injuries are part of the game, but no one expects some of the brightest stars and experienced veterans in the league to go down in ways both gruesome (George’s freak knee injury) and unconventional (Nash hurt his back carrying luggage).

While the NBA is not for everyone, those who cherish this game can rest assured knowing there will be an NBA game available to watch almost every night of the week.

It’s about damn time.


Follow Roberto Payne on Twitter.

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