NBA training camps have opened, and thank goodness. We know the story here. We’ve all been waiting months to see the new Miami Heat. Pat Riley has assembled the biggest supergroup since Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short donned sombreros. And Riley is set to have them holed up in some sort of primeval Pat Riley boot camp. And thank goodness.
And the Lakers. Phil is still Phil. Kobe is still Kobe. Lamar Odom is still married to one of the Kardashians. Andrew Bynum still has some sort of injury. And Ron Artest may well still be wearing the uniform he had on the night his team won it all.
So there you go. Your NBA training-camp storylines for 2010.
Wait, hold on. What? Oh, my editor is handing me a piece of paper here.
Hey, wait a minute, he’s right. There are other teams. And there are other storylines here! Let’s take a look …
The Celtics – remember them, pushed the Lakers to the brink last season?
Wait a minute. That does sound familiar. I seem to recall some guy named Rajon Rondo playing brilliantly. It was exhilarating, really, the way he took it to opponents in the playoffs. The way he attacked the game. But really, can he drag around an aged-in-dog-years core of the roster?
And Boston has added the Big (Fill in the Blank), Shaq, to go along with Nate Robinson, whom I love. Have you seen that picture on the Internet of the two of them?
I love the Celtics bench. I don’t know if these guys have it in them to make another run or not, but no team should have a higher collective sense of humor.
What’s next? Ah, yes. The returns of Yao Ming, Blake Griffin and Greg Oden.
Yao is the man. But you can all but book it each season, he’s going to get hurt at some point. Limiting his minutes? Yeah, that’s going to work. Ditto Oden. I’m really rooting for the man. He seems like the kind of guy you’d like to see succeed.
But you wonder … He’s said he’s already sitting out the season opener. And now he’s got “jumper’s knee.” I’ve got that, and I haven’t jumped in three years. Then again, neither has Oden.
And Griffin? Well, he’s gotten his Clippers initiation (season-ending knee injury) out of the way. Hopefully, the old explosiveness is back.
Which brings us to the long-awaited NBA debut of Tiago Splitter.
That could be the title to something, couldn’t it? A Hardy Boys mystery. A Lifetime movie of the week. Something! I’m excited about this for the name value alone. Tiago Splitter! How can this guy miss? Plus, he’s been long awaited.
Of course he has!
I’ve been waiting for Tiago Splitter my whole life.
Well, does his arrival breathe new life into the Spurs? The answer? Some.
The guy should definitely help, especially in easing Tim Duncan’s workload on the front line and on D. He’s about as NBA-ready as an import can be, and the Spurs might know better than anyone else how to mesh international players.
Oh, sure, he’ll get banged around a little as he adjusts to going up against diplodocuses every single night. But he’ll adjust – he’s Tiago Splitter!
Now the story du jour upon the opening of training camps: Carmelo Anthony. Wherever he ends up – is he happy?
Gosh, I hope so. I hope that guy can find happiness in this crazy, mixed-up world.
“Whatever the future holds, it holds,” he told reporters at Denver’s media day.
Reports are a four-way deal that would have sent him to the Nets has fallen apart. As of this writing, the Nuggets are apparently aiming to keep him. Coach George Karl has vowed to persuade him.
Anyone else feeling a little awkward here?
The New York Times quotes Kenyon Martin as saying: “It’s a mess.”
Karl: “Was it four years ago that Kobe Bryant said he wanted out and six weeks later he loved his team? They went on to win two championships. That’s what I hope to reincarnate.”
Yeah, that was something.
But, of course, Karl is another comeback story – he’s recovering from cancer. And he can now only yell for three or four minutes at a time.
We’ll see if that helps or hurts.
And, finally, new Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov – he’s richer and kookier than Mark Cuban; what’ll he do in his first season?
Oh, wait. I’m sorry. That actually should say “cockier.”