Fantasy Teams, Fantasy Worlds and Fantasies Shattered

Justin October 23, 2010 1

I don’t know if I’m comfortable living in a world where Nenad Krstic can be on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

But at least I can identify him without having to read the caption. That’s becoming a rare skill among sports fans these days.

Here’s a story.  I’ve been in an NBA fantasy keeper league with the same group of friends for the past 8 years. We’ve had some people leave over the years, but we’ve always been able to replace them successfully. We even expanded the league by two teams one year, though that experiment only lasted one season.

When I sent out the email to get the league started this year, two of the original guys decided they wanted to back out. And I was stumped. I honestly couldn’t think of anyone I knew who likes the NBA but wasn’t already in the league. Eventually, we filled those slots with a couple of good guys, but it’s that initial emptiness that had me worried.

Why all  the NBA hate?

Is it because of the lockout? That was 11 years ago. The baseball strike turned off a lot of people, but everything was fine by 2005.

Is it the players? Because the NFL is doing fine despite a population made up of a similar demographic. In fact, bad behavior among NFL players is a significantly larger issue.

Are we still suffering from the Michael Jordan hangover? No one has ever filled that vaccum and those who were close have sulked, raped or taken their talents to southbeach-ed their ways right out of the role.

I’m honestly not sure what it is. But at this point, we’re not far from a day when the entire NBA fanbase is made up of me, some once-relevant columnists who write 700 page basketball books that have as many factual errors as they do 90210 references, and a billion chinese people.

So, with that happy forecast, we dive into my 2nd favorite issue of the year. IT’S NBA PREVIEW WEEK!

Sports Illustrated: October 25th, 2010:

PREGAME

SI writer George Dohrmann really wants to be relevant. A week after his cover story about NFL agent Josh Luchs paying college players, Dohrmann is back, trying to hammer home the point that his article is important.  But, this isn’t steroids in baseball. This is a story that got two or three days of coverage then went away. Keep looking for your Pulitzer, George, because it isn’t here.

Justin Timberlake continues to be the most likable superstar ever. He hosts a PGA tournament, gives all the proceeds to a great children’s charity, then knows when to step off the stage at the right time.

THE ARTICLES

Torture Chamber by Joe Posnanski

Oddly enough, I was thinking about the San Francisco Giants just a few days before this article came out. All of a sudden I realized, “Wait a minute, they’ve never won the World Series.” So, I was particularly happy to see Joe Posnanski to tackle that exact subject this week.  Obviously, it’s hard to write about a series that’s still going on, because by the time the magazine comes out, another game has been played. It’s important to find a hook. Posnanski did.

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise by Austin Murphy

This one just felt like it was never going to end. Good teams lose. Other teams move up in the polls. Here’s an idea. Get rid of the polls early in the season. The BCS standings don’t come out until mid-season. How about waiting until the week before that to take your first poll. Maybe it’s not the good teams are losing to lesser opponents. Maybe it’s that teams that were overrated in the pre-season are playing at their actual levels.

The New Go-To Guys by Damon Hack

How about another fantasy sports story? Everyone loves to hear those. I am in a four team football league with John from 200 miles from the Citi, Dave in Brighton and  commenter Scott Salley (not to be confused with actual Scott Salley.) Because it’s only 4 teams, we limit the player universe to just the AFC and NFC Eastern divisions. During our draft, I got nervous and drafted Dallas Clark, who does not qualify under the aforementioned rule. I could have said, “Whoops, I slipped and clicked on the wrong name,” or “What the hell, Yahoo? That’s not what I wanted to do.” Instead, I was honest. “I saw the word Dallas and went with it.”

Anyway, Tight ends. They’re different now.

A New York State of Mind by Grant Wahl

I’m not saying that Grant Wahl is to soccer what Leni Riefenstahl was to Nazism, but it’s pretty damn close. Stop with all the footie propoganda, Grant. I live in New York. I am an intelligent and dedicated sports fan. Thierry Henry is not even on my radar.

This is the blurb before the article:

The most accomplished import in MLS history, suave Red Bulls striker Thierry Henry has the Big Apple buzzing about its club for the first time since the heyday of Pelé’s Cosmos

This is the last line:
Soccer matters again in New York City—and his days of anonymity are numbered.

Both are patently false.

Rolling Thunder by Lee Jenkins
Have we learned nothing? We just spent an entire summer tearing down our last false idol when he failed to meet our ridiculous expectations. But what’s the first thing we do once the season starts again. We turn Kevin Durant and his Thunder teammates into Jesus and the Apostles (Is that a proper analogy, John? I don’t know from the Christianity.) I fear we’re just setting up this likable team for a major fall.
O.K., So What Now? by Ian Thomsen
Why doesn’t Ian Thomsen have a silent “P” in his last name?
Scouting Reports by SI Staff
I will admit that I was initially turned off by the decision to change the tried and true preseason scouting report format that I’ve grown so fond in SI preview issues over the years. Why doesn’t every team get an entire page dedicated to them? That’s what I love. But, it turns out, I really like the way they did it this year.  SI turns each division into a narrative, starting with a key player and expanding out to include everyone else. And instead of focusing on LeBron and Kobe, we hear about Ray Allen and Andrew Bogut and Blake Griffin.
Point After by Selena Roberts
A small college in Massachusetts started a football team. There really isn’t much more to it than that. There’s usually some sort of adversity that the subjects of these columns have to overcome. Not so in this case. Now, if all the players had Down Syndrome or were missing organs, then we’d have something.

One Comment »

  1. John October 23, 2010 at 8:59 pm -

    We turn Kevin Durant and his Thunder teammates into Jesus and the Apostles (Is that a proper analogy, John? I don’t know from the Christianity.)

    Works well enough to make your point.

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