Fun

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hottakeseason

I was promised fun.

I sat through four years of Cavs fandom that was anything but fun. It was four years of this team jerking its fans back and forth until the shafting climaxed with the Season of Huh.

But this offseason? This offseason was supposed to change everything. Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, LEBRON JAMES.

We weren’t going to have to pretend Anthony Bennett was good anymore!

Instead, we’ve gotten…this.

And this isn’t good. Or bad, really. It just is. At least when the Cavs were bad we had Dion Waiters punching Kyrie in the face or Anthony Bennett executing pout and rolls.

The Cavs of ’10-’13 were a movie that was so bad it was good. The past four years have been They Live.

This season they came to kick ass and chew bubble gum and – wait, hold on – this piece still has some flavor. They’ll get to the ass kicking later.

So if the team isn’t going to be fun on the court, it’s time to have some fun off of it. I declare it officially Hot Take season. There’s no conspiracy too far-fetched, no opinion too outlandish. This isn’t about panic, this is about entertainment.

Do you think David Blatt should be fired because Dion Waiters punched LeBron James’ fragile non-HGH enhanced face while Kyrie Irving refused to assist and Kevin Love failed to defend him? Go for it. Let the takes rain down. Let them burn with the heat of 1,000 suns.

Just please, god, make them fun.

NBA Christmas Game Guide to Your Family’s Comments about a Sport They Don’t Watch

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Hello NBA fans. Christmas is here, which means you get to spend the entire day watching mostly sup-bar NBA games. It also means you have to deal with a lot of family who barely follows or doesn’t at all follow the NBA. They’re going to have comments to make, and it’s going to devolve into a whole mess of bullshit by the end of the night.

So you know what to expect, I’ve written a little guide for the night.

Pre-Game

The first game is at noon, so before the game, the family will commune and begin to either:

A. Drink heavily.

or

B. If they aren’t drinkers, they’re probably religious or ex-alcoholics. If they are ex-alcoholics, that means they’re usually also religious. I don’t know what happens here, but I assume a lot of talking about God? I’ll go with that. I don’t know.

While A or B is happening, you will open terrible presents you don’t want from family members who barely know you and would be afraid of the real you if they did.

Wizards at Knicks

The main discussion is about how Carmelo Anthony isn’t a winner and can’t be a winner. Someone will say, “Wasn’t he going to go to Chicago? I heard something about Chicago.” Then someone else will say, “A true winner carries his own team.” No matter what anyone says about Melo, it will come back to him not being a true winner. The fact that the Wizards will be crushing the Knicks by five thousand points will only prove the point.

Never mind that half the team is injured. Melo will either sit out or play injured. And his supporting cast would be awful even if healthy. He should have gone to Chicago.

“BUT A TRUE WINNER CARRIES  HIS OWN TEAM!”

Okay, okay.

And nobody will talk about the Wizards because nobody will know a thing about them.

Thunder at Spurs

About the Spurs, the comments will be as they always are: “The Spurs are boring.” BUT, luckily this year, there will also be plenty of talk about how the Spurs “exposed” LeBron James by “playing real team basketball.”

The comments about the Thunder will be about how Westbrook makes his team worse. They’ll say Durant should “Go to that Washington team.” They know a little about Washington now because they just saw them destroy the Knicks. They will assume Washington is the greatest team on Earth now because of the recency factor. Wall will have a billion assists, probably, so they’ll talk about how Durant needs a real point guard like Wall instead of a fake point guard like Westbrook.

Meanwhile, Westbrook is going to tear it up even if the Thunder lose. Nobody will notice and some people will shout, “HE SHOULD HAVE PASSED THAT” with every Westbrook shot attempt.

Cavs at Heat

More talk about how the Spurs “exposed” LeBron. A LOT of talk about how much they like Kevin Love — even if he’s having a terrible game. Mixed comments on Wade, but everyone will agree it’s great he spent his whole career in Miami. Like it’s a sacrifice to live in Miami.

Keep your ears open for any comments about Cavs coach David Blatt. I think there will be a lot of variance here and even arguments, depending on the crowd.

You may get extreme pro-Blatters who heard once that he is a genius, so they think LeBron is holding him and the Cavs back (as if they haven’t played well mostly). On the other side, you will get plenty of anti-Blatters who don’t want a dirty foreigner coming in and bringing his “no defense game” to the NBA (“WHICH ALREADY DOESN’T HAVE ANY DEFENSE TO BEGIN WITH!”). That the Cavs’ defense will be horrible will only perpetuate this idea.

Also, stay tuned for a lot of theories that the Cavs are ruined without Varejao, forgetting that he was secretly not that great this season. (I know, I know, it’s more about who is playing instead of him than how well he himself was playing.)

Lakers at Bulls

The comments will be decidedly both pro-Kobe and pro-Chicago-defense-team-ball-GO-THIBBS! This is the most I can stand to dedicate any part of any article to the Lakers.

Warriors at Clippers

By this time, everyone will be either asleep on the couch (most likely passed out drunk) or gone. You may get one straggler whispering stuff about how great a point guard Chris Paul is, but that’s unlikely. It’s late, and this is your chance to enjoy the game in peace and quiet. It also has a chance to be the best game of the night.

Enjoy your solitude if you haven’t killed yourself by this point.

Post-Game

Go to bed. It’s late.

BASKETBALL HOLIDAY PARTY SPECTACULAR!

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As you may notice, there is no picture associated with this post.  Why you ask?  Because the I GO HARD NOW WEEKLY ALL-STAR BONANZA FEATURING THE I GO HARD NOW BALLERS joined forces with BASKETBALL PARTY to have a holiday party like no other. *sounds airhorn*  So it’s not really fair to call this an All-Star Bonanza or a Basketball Party.  It was just awesome.

In addition to a bunch of holiday-themed topics and some general banter, Demetri tells a spell-binding story about driving through Louisville, KY one time.

Join @mikeyfivebucks, @dietcokeforever, @kimpossiblydire, @trizgallo and @demeatloaf while we share drinks and merriment on a nearly two hour odyssey where nothing really gets accomplished.

Happy holidays, you guys.

Way to Go, Black Mamba!!!

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If I’m going to be perfectly honest, I have only ever watched a few minutes of basketball in my entire life. I understand the basics, though. It’s a game where you put a ball into a cylinder, and you are awarded a certain amount of points for it, right? Not sure why anyone would ever want to watch that over and over again, but to each their own.

I only write for this blog because people seem to be very interested in this basketball, and I am obsessed with being popular. I want to write about things people will actually read.

That’s why I steal a bunch of opinions I read on Twitter and string together those opinions into these basketball blog posts. It’s a system that works well. I write about stuff people will read, and I don’t have to actually watch any games to do it. I don’t feel like I’ve messed much.

That is… until tonight.

When I heard a black mamba has scored the third most NBA basketball points ever, I instantly regretted not watching this snake’s entire career. If I knew this was an interspecies sport, I probably would have watched more games. Especially when it’s a very talented SNAKE playing among mostly humans and non-snakes.

To put this snake’s accomplishment in perspective, the average height in the NBA has been traditionally around 6’7″. While black mambas are some of the fastest snakes in the world and can grow to be 14-15 feet long, they are still snakes. They don’t have arms or legs or hands. They move flat along the ground unless they have an object to climb. They aren’t exactly made for this basketball sport.

I even checked the NBA rule book to see if a black mamba could climb another player, but it seemed like this would be considered a “foul,” which isn’t allowed. I checked to see if it could climb the “basketball hoop” and hang off the “rim” to score “buckets,” but it seems like this would most likely be illegal, too.

So this black mamba is GROUND BOUND! It has NO HANDS! NO LEGS! It probably shoots with its tail or something? I couldn’t find video of this black mamba “scoring hoops.” Let alone scoring over 32,300 of them.

My hat goes off to you, basketball playing black mamba. I don’t know how you did it, but clearly you have set a precedent for nonhuman professional athletes.

You aren’t just a hero to your fellow snakes or fellow NBA basketball “players.” You are a hero to anyone who was told “YOU CAN’T DO THAT!” If a black mamba can score the third most NBA basketball points ever, anything is possible.

DREAMS DO COME TRUE!

BASKETBALL PARTY EIGHT!

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BASKETBALL PARTY!

BASKETBALL PARTY episode eight continues our reign as the premier NBA podcast featuring two adult women talking to one another. This time we mix it up with special guest Jeff Miller, throwing testosterone into the party along with Mike “Kool Aid Man” Scherf clarifying the Diddy-Drake controversy for us. Get ready to discuss just how bad the Knicks are, who our top three are in the NBA – then things really go off the rails. It’s a really wild BASKETBALL PARTY!

Erin M. Routson is an art director & freelance writer living in Brooklyn, NY.  She accepts rice krispie treats as a form of currency, particularly the brown butter variety. Follow her running commentary on Twitter @dietcokeforever.

Kim Huston is a copywriter based in Louisville, KY.  She is currently contemplating the four-day cruise. You can attempt to follow her on Twitter @kimpossiblydire.

One Conference to Rule Them All and in the Darkness Bind Them

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Last week, NBA Twitter was all abuzz about abolishing conferences thanks to Zach Lowe’s excellent article on the subject. Like the great self-promoter I am, I decided to wait until everyone was their normal amount of pissed off before writing some thoughts on conference abolition. IGHN is a site dedicated to self-sabotage, so I wouldn’t want to write anything about a subject while it’s hot.

To summarize the basic issue for anyone who hasn’t paid attention, the Western Conference is a lot better than the Eastern Conference.

The sixth seed (Spurs, 16-6) in the West has the same record as the first seed in the East (Raptors, 16-6). The seventh seed in the West (Mavs, 17-7) would be the fourth seed in the East, and I suspect their record will end up better than the current Eastern Conference second seed (Hawks, 15-6) and third seed (Wizards, 15-6) before the season is over.

I also suspect the two teams expected to be at the top of the East, Cleveland and Chicago, will probably end up at the top. There is a lot of season to be played, so things very much will change. But to think that it’s possible that seven teams in the West could have better records than any team in the East, well that’s just scary. It probably won’t happen because things will even out as more East teams play East teams and West teams play West teams, but it’s possible.

And even that isn’t why some in the NBA community want to abolish conferences. They want to abolish conferences because last year the Suns missed the playoffs with 48 wins in the West and the Hawks got into the playoffs with 38 wins in the East. Because three teams in the West this year (Kings, Pelicans, and Denver) have a better record than the eighth seed in the East. Hell, the Kings would be the sixth seed in the East.

That’s a problem, but it isn’t even the entire problem. The problem is threefold:

1. Records don’t reflect the disparity in its entirety.

For as bad as the records look already, the disparity is bigger than they show. This is a pretty simple point. West teams mostly play West teams. East teams mostly play East teams. West teams are better than East teams. Put all this together, and West teams play a much more difficult schedule than East teams.

2. We don’t get to see the most competitive playoffs possible.

Given the previous point, maybe the records would play out differently if the conference situation were “fixed,” but let’s assume for a second that last year’s records were an accurate depiction of how good every team in the NBA actually was (they weren’t). If Commissioner Silver decided on the last day of the season to abolish conferences last year, the only difference in WHO made the playoffs would be the Suns getting into the playoffs instead of the Hawks. That really isn’t enough to change an entire system if this were the only reason to be upset.

The real sports tragedy is that the playoff seeding didn’t make for the most competitive playoffs possible. Now, top seeds in the East were always going to destroy lower seeds. That’s an inevitability, but very good teams like the Rockets, the Mavericks, the Grizzlies and the Warriors all got kicked out of the first round in the West while lesser teams in the East made it to the second round. This isn’t so much about the first round, which is insanely exciting in the West. It’s about providing a chance for the best teams in the entire NBA to play as long as possible.

The upside, too, is the middle of a 16 team bracket could be just as if not more exciting than a bracket with the conferences divided. I usually hate anyone who does this, but let’s look at what some of the match ups would be like if the playoffs started today:

4 Clippers versus 13 Suns

5 Rockets versus 12 Bulls

6 Raptors versus 11 Cavs

7 Spurs versus 10 Mavs

8 Hawks versus 9 Wizards

Those are some pretty fun match ups, and that’s without considering that both Demarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis would grab two of the final three seeds, so we would be able to get to see those young stars play, which is cool even if their team will get destroyed.

Still, the biggest upside as that as the rounds progress, we truly get to see the best of the best face each other. I’m all for this, and I’m a Cavs fan. It doesn’t benefit me personally at all.

3. Mediocre East teams make the playoffs, missing out on the lottery. Good West teams miss the playoffs, making the lottery.

One of the benefits of being in the West is teams get to try harder and still get lottery picks. They get to try harder, but all the teams are so good, their records are artificially worse than the team really is.

It’s something that builds on itself. In the East, as soon as a team is a little good, it makes the playoffs because making the playoffs is easy. This puts a ceiling on the team’s assets and potential to get better. In the West, teams don’t have to attempt to bottom out as much. They can actually try to get better and still build assets because the West is so tough.

It isn’t the entire reason why there is a disparity. It isn’t even close to the entire reason. It’s a small part of it, but it defeats the purpose of the lottery. It would be nice if that were fixed.

The hard part is in fixing this whole mess. “Just get rid of conferences” is an easy thing to say, but not as easy to do. Since one of the biggest issues is making the schedules more even so records actually reflect the strength of each team, who plays who and how many times becomes the biggest pitfall.

In Lowe’s article, he talks a lot about this issue, wondering at the realities of a schedule where every team plays every other team three times (for a mammoth 87 games) or two times (a snug 58 games).

Either seems like too drastic of a change, and I would have to agree. Luckily, the NBA has already set a precedent for the middle ground. Teams already don’t play every team in their own conferences the same amount of times. Some inner-conference teams they play four times and some three times. I see no reason why the schedule can’t be divided where a team plays some teams three times and some two times.

The NBA already doesn’t worry about schedules being fair or even. With this change, they would get closer to fair than they ever have been before. Conferences helped to obscure that the schedules weren’t anywhere approaching fair, so complaining about the format I propose seems more like a complaint about the visibility of uneven schedules than an actual complaint about uneven schedules.

It can even be roughly down the middle with 15 three gamers and 14 two gamers. That would come out to a total of 73 games. There are ways to get it up to 82 games if they want, but I have a better idea.

That leeway of nine fewer regular season games would allow the NBA to effectively extend the playoffs. They could lock in the top eight seeds and let the entire rest of the NBA play a single elimination tournament to get into the first round. How teams place in the tournament would decide the order of the final eight seeds.

What I like about this is it would bring the danger and excitement and hope of the playoffs to every single city every single season. And you better believe in a playoff-type game, the higher seeds in the tournament would feel pretty safe — at least in the first round. Is there any way the Wizards would lose a playoff game to the Sixers? I doubt it, but I also want to find out.

The lottery can work the same as it does now. Top sixteen regular season records aren’t in the lottery, and the next fourteen are. If a non-lottery team loses its first round spot to a lottery team in this tournament, that’s on them. Good for the team that knocked them out plus got a lottery pick.

Lowe’s article also worries about the loss of playoff revenue, and the tournament would fix that issue, too. If an Eastern Conference team usually made the playoffs in a two conference world but doesn’t have a top sixteen record in the NBA, it’s still probably a mid-to-upper seed in the tournament. It will probably go a few rounds before it gets eliminated. How different is that from playing two first round games and getting swept? At least here, there’s the off-hand hope that it can sneak into the first round with a good showing in the tournament.

The upper seeds also get a week or two of rest that should serve them well and counteract the increase in travel throughout the playoffs.

There’s always a way to nay say the clearly better solution for not being perfect, and I would guess that’s what the NBA is going to do with conference abolition. Sports leagues are allergic to reform that is a grand departure from what came before it. As grand a departure as this change would be, we are still talking about basketball. A bunch of dudes will still be playing basketball.

I just want it to be both more fair and more exciting. I’m not saying anything new here. A lot of what I said, Lowe said better in his own article, which you hopefully read before mine. It’s about time the NBA gets rid of conferences, and the more people who say it, the better.

I GO HARD NOW Weekly All-Star Bonanza: Featuring the I GO HARD NOW Ballers – Episode 5

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Episode 5 – Mike Knows Nothing about the Kings

Greg Wissinger of Sactown Royalty joins us to talk about the Sacramento Kings. Of course, Mike counters Greg’s extensive Kings knowledge with his complete Kings ignorance. See what things about the Kings Mike doesn’t know. His ignorance may surprise you!

I Go Dion Now: A Dion Waiters Relocation Round Table

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Like everyone else in the world, the staff here at I GO HARD NOW is in love with Dion Waiters. It pains us to see him struggling on a Cleveland Cavaliers team that missuses his talents (being a mother fucking superstar). We want to see him on a team where he thrives whether it be through free agency, forcing a trade or immaculate relocation. We don’t care how he moves to a place where he can be a star — we just want to see it happen.

Select members of our staff attempted to  answer the age-old question. “Where do you want Dion Waiters to play?” The only restriction being nobody could move him to Philly. It’s just too obvious. Philly is self-explanatory, so fuck that.

Mike (Knicks):

Doesn’t everyone want to live in New York City? Dion couldn’t resist the bright lights and mystique of Madison Square Garden! Playing in front of the greatest fans in the world, you know? The greatest player playing in the best place.

Either that or Dion is just another shitty chucker that piece of shit Knicks fans deserve for their trash can of a franchise. Fuck off, New Yorker/Knicks fans.

Nom (Pacers):

For pure entertainment level, there are way better options for Dion than what I’m about to say. And Dion is nothing if not an entertainer. But I want what’s best for Dion, not just what would be the most fun for me. Because Dion is a giver who only wants what is best for everyone else. His biggest problem is that he isn’t selfish enough. So let’s be selfish for him. Dion belongs on the Pacers. The Pacers would turn Dion from kind of husky into a real-life husky. He’d be killing stray cats and leaving them on Frank Vogel’s doorstep. Being on the Pacers would force Dion to live up to his defensive potential because Dion would do anything in his power to get out of Indiana. And on the flip side, they don’t have actually have a better option than pull-up, off-balance contested jumpers on offense. So Dion becomes a good defender, gets to do crazy stuff on offense, and the Pacers can try to pretend like they never let Lance go. I’d say that’s win / win. I mean, except for like, actual wins.

Triz Gallo (Nuggets):

Making new friends is hard. Especially when you move halfway across the country. Such is the case for me these past six weeks as I’ve settled into Denver. But, moving from Cleveland, I feel like I left someone behind.

Dion Waiters.

Yes, Dion, this is my offer to be besties when you either demand a trade or sign with the Nuggets this off season. This city rocks. In the words of Stefan, it has everything.

We can climb mountains to keep you in shape during the offseason. Judging from your Instagram, you obviously love riding your bike. Denver and the surroundings areas is a biking Mecca. The local REI even has a mountain bike test track!

Did I mention we can also crack a few PBR tall boys over burritos at Illegal Pete’s? (P.S. – Illegal Pete’s is better than Chipotle!) We can then hit up some brewery tours. You’ve heard of New Belgium’s Fat Tire. That’s like an hour away! Also just an hour away? Odell Brewing Co. Never heard it? It’s the best beer I’ve found out here.

Anyway, there’s tons to do and the weather is really nice all year. 300…yes….300 sunny days a year. You can’t beat it. Oh, and if you wanna smoke some reef, that’s totally legal here, too!

So, Dion. Will you be my friend?

Demeatloaf (Lakers):

If the Cavs absolutely have to set Dion Waiters free in order for both parties to prosper, the best possible situation for him is with the Los Angeles Lakers. Imagine how fun it would be watching Kobe Bryant, Nick Young and Dion Waiters playing on the same team. Seeing who would win the Immovable Force Paradox between Young and Waiters with Kobe Bryant lingering would make for Must See TV. In fact, it would almost make the NBA’s decision to cram the shitty Lakers down our throats justifiable. The Dion Waiters/Kobe Bryant/Nick Young Lakers would likely end in the NBA’s very first murder/suicide. Additionally, Byron Scott is probably breathing a sigh of relief that he no longer has to coach Dion Waiters. Imagine watching Byron Scott want to react angrily over all of the long two point shots that Waiters is taking but choosing to let it go because he doesn’t want to look like a hypocrite. I can’t think of a more volatile situation than this one, which is why he belongs in LA. Dion Waiters is fun because he is volatile and goddamn it, why not go balls to the wall?

Spacefunmars (Hawks):

Dion Waiters is an alpha, and I see the Hawks as a team in need of an alpha. For as good as Milsap and Horford are, they don’t strike me as the kind of guys who will say, “Fuck you guys, I’m winning this mother fucker BY MY SELF!” The Hawk’s unselfish offense will help restrain Dion just enough that he won’t hurt the team. And let’s face it, if any player in the NBA is the manifestation of the Hawks’ beloved Red Pac-Man logo, it’s Dion Fucking Waiters. He would eat guys up out there on a team one superstar short of being special. Dion is that superstar.

BASKETBALL PARTY SEVEN!

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BASKETBALL PARTY!BASKETBALL PARTY episode seven celebrates our return as the premier NBA podcast featuring two adult women talking to one another. Sometimes everyone needs a little rest on the bench. We discuss Kevin Durant’s controversial yet not controversial return, whether or not conferences should be obliterated, and what Kim can do to cleanse the energy of the Palace of Auburn Hills, among other NBA detritus. This episode is brought to you by the word “junkbag.” Welcome back to BASKETBALL PARTY!

Erin M. Routson is an art director & freelance writer living in Brooklyn, NY.  If you say “sorry not sorry” to her get ready to be thrown serious shade. Follow her running commentary on Twitter @dietcokeforever.

Kim Huston is a copywriter based in Louisville, KY.  She is available this weekend to cleanse your home with sage if you live in the Detroit metro area. You can attempt to follow her on Twitter @kimpossiblydire.