You see them weekly, during a standard NBA-themed google-machine internet session: Power-Rankings. And while most websites use journalists and experts to make their selections with helpful tools like “statistics,” “analytics” and “actual performance during the basketball games,” I prefer to rank players based on a different metric: storylines. The Association is littered with unique personalities that are on full display for the entire world to see on a nightly basis. And, as such, here’s who won my heart this past week or so and why.
#5: Earl Clark — Clearly the best NBA rule ever is not forcing inactive players to don suits and ties on the bench or fining floppers, nay it is the article which states that an opposing coach gets to pick a replacement free-throw taker in the instance that a fouled player is too injured to remain in the game. Much to my delight, this happened during the recent Nuggets/Lakers battle in LA. With Pau’s nose gushing blood, George Karl selected consummate towel-waver Earl Clark to head to the charity stripe. With the entire planet watching, Clark, in cold-blooded fashion, drained both freebies. Welcome to the life, Earl Clark.
#4: J.R. Smith — If we know one thing about basketball it’s that alley-oops are super cool and should probably be worth 4 points, just saying. When J.R. Smith snatched up a low pass from Pablo Prigioni, managed to elevate to where his head was well beyond the rim, and then throw down with little regard for human life, I did a classic movie-style spit take with the alcoholic liquid occupying my mouth. It’s moments like these that remind us it’s way better to see super-sweet highlights live as opposed to half-asleep while watching SportsCenter.
#3: Chris Paul vs. Kobe Bryant — Maybe it was the multiple pitchers of Pacifico occupying my brain, but was Friday night’s rivalry game between the Clippers and the Lakers not the most entertaining basketball contest of the season? Particularly salivating was the one-on-one chess match between Jellybean Jr. and Cliff Paul. Paul blatantly tickles the competitive bones in Kobe extra hard which in turn entices Bryant to pass the rock far less he normally does…. which, as I’m learning, is basically never. As for Paul, well he did what he does. You know, all those super-dope lobs he throws to massive men who happen to be barreling towards an orange metal cylinder so that David Stern will pay them stacks upon stacks of paper money.
#2: Kemba Walker — Critics said he was undersized, couldn’t defend, and would never make it in the Association. Well guess what critics, Walker is here to stay whether you like it or not, jerks. The Bobcat superstar was instrumental in his team’s critical 108-101 OT victory over the Larry-Frank-led Pistons of Detroit, Michigan. His game-tying tear-drop after slicing up Detroit’s perimeter defense was butter and his OT performance was similarly smooth. Twenty points and 7 assists, take that haters. See, MJ knows some stuff, right?
#1: Roy Hibbert — Full disclosure here, I had never heard Hibbert speak until Saturday night. I’m serious, and it’s messed up I know. But after his monstrous 20-point 15-rebound evening against the Bucks, Roy joined the NBATV crew for a pleasant postgame chat. Let me tell you, listening to this man talk is pure gold. Not only is he humble, super nice, and blessed with such a low voice that it’s safe to assume he’ll be reincarnated as some sort of opera singer, but he also boldly asked Isiah Thomas and Richard Fox for their autographs on their rookie-cards!! You win, Hibbert.