The NBA Is Back!

We Can Take Brilliance for Granted Again!
It's always been popular to compare basketball to jazz, and sometimes that comparison is dead-on accurate. Sometimes it truly is frenetic and kinetic and free. But regular-season pro basketball is usually more like "Riders on the Storm" or "Born Slippy" — a hypnotic drone that goes on forever, punctuated by semi-electrifying moments that evaporate within the same moment we recognize their right to exist. There are 150 possessions in an average NBA game, and 135 of them don't seem to matter at all. You can watch the entire second quarter of a Kings-Pacers game and somehow miss it entirely; it's almost like having your eyes float over every line of a paragraph without registering a single word. This, I suppose, is a criticism. But if the lockout had never lifted, I would have spent a lot of late nights wishing there were a West Coast NBA game to passively take for granted. It's an unbelievable thing, really: A 4,700-square-foot floor populated by 82-inch superhumans, all of whom are exhibiting such insane, nonchalant athleticism that I consciously ignore it while I unconsciously absorb it. I look at Derrick Rose and I think, "Oh, the Bulls are on." And then I watch him explode while daydreaming about a hundred other things. And that's so crazy. That's so sick. Because what I should be thinking is this: "It's amazing that we are the same species. It's amazing that what he's doing has any relationship to who I am and what my life is (or could potentially be). It's amazing that this is happening at all." But I don't, because I'm used to it. We're all used to it. — Chuck Klosterman
Shaquille O'Neal: Analyst
What I'm most looking forward to has nothing to do with any player or team: It's Shaquille O'Neal starting his second career (or fifth, if you count his subpar acting, subpar rapping, and law enforcement ventures) by joining TNT as an analyst. I am convinced no NBA insider knows where the bodies are buried with greater accuracy than O'Neal. Pair him up with Charles Barkley for an entire season? I am positive there will be some NBA tidbits we did not know before — and probably didn't want to know. — Jonathan Abrams
Jimmer: The New Tebow?
It's not that I'm actively wishing for Jimmer to fail, and it's not that I actively dislike the NBA, although I cannot say I will miss those first 16 games any more than I will pine for the return of The Playboy Club. It's that, for those of us who enjoy college sports just a little bit more, there should always be a clear line of demarcation between our game and the pros, and just as Tim Tebow has become polarizingly indicative of where that line is drawn, so should Jimmer. I hope he averages 18 points a game, and I hope he puts up 56 in a mid-January contest against the Wizards, and I hope he plays terrible defense and seems hopelessly outmatched on certain nights and infuriates purists for reasons they are too outraged to rationally explain. That, I believe, is why the good Lord gave us Jimmer in the first place. — Michael Weinreb
Lots of good stuff.