Saturday, April 14, 2018

Top 10 Moments of the 2017-2018 NBA Regular Season

The NBA playoffs are upon us.  Everyone’s excited.  But before we enjoy that, let me list down what I think are the ten most memorable moments of the regular season.

10.) When the Memphis Grizzlies Lost by 61 Points
For the last spot, it came down to choosing between Andre Ingram and the Grizzlies’ 61-point loss.  I eventually went for the latter because ridiculing a humiliating trainwreck is more fun than celebrating a feel-good story.

The Memphis Grizzlies were clearly on tank mode.  But, still, 61 points?!  W.  T.  F.  It’s only the sixth worst in NBA history, but it’s the worst blowout I’ve ever seen since I started watching the NBA.  And it’s not like it was handed to them by the Houston Rockets or the Golden State Warriors.  It came from the Charlotte freakin’ Hornets.  That’s pathetic.

The reactions afterwards were appropriately hilarious:

9.) When the Suns Did a Gamewinning Alley-Oop from Out of Bounds
The Phoenix Suns are the worst team in the NBA.  However, they at least had this one noteworthy moment.

In a game against the Grizzlies (well, would you look at that), they found themselves tied at 97 with 0.6 left on the clock and the ball in their hands.  So they turned to this beauty…

It appeared to be offensive goaltending, for it would have been offensive goaltending at any other case.  But, apparently, it’s perfectly legal if it comes out of bounds.  Coach Jay Triano had long been aware of the no-goaltending-from-out-of-bounds rule, chose to run a play based on it, and we, in turn, got educated.

8.) When Eric Bledsoe Threw a Jaw-Dropping Assist to Jason Terry
Yep.  Speaking of jaw-dropping assists…

7.) These Passes from LeBron James

The times I like LeBron the most (or, rather, the times I dislike him the least) are when he makes unbelievable passes.  I have two favorites from this season.  It was hard to pick one, so I let me put both of them here.

This insane no-look pass to Dwyane Wade…
And this no-look pass against the Lakers, which completely fooled everyone…

6.) When Giannis Antetokounmpo Jumped Over Tim Hardaway Jr. to Finish an Alley-Oop Dunk
Tim Hardaway Jr. is going to be known as the guy that Giannis used as a prop for one of his nastiest dunks ever.

5.) When the Jazz Performed Basketball Poetry
Outside of the Spurs and Warriors, this is probably the best ball movement sequence in the NBA within the past few years.  In fact, though they had their share of cool passing plays, neither the Spurs nor the Warriors executed something as exquisite as this during the season.

4.) When Russell Westbrook Hunted for Rebounds during the Last Game of the Season

A large part of why Westbrook won MVP last year is because of the exciting feat of averaging a triple-double for the entire season – the first one to do so since Oscar Robertson.  Now, this season, in the Thunder’s last game (which was against the Grizzlies, of all teams), he was in position of averaging a triple-double for the second straight season – something nobody has ever done before.  He just had to grab 16 rebounds.  And that he did.

It was a lot of fun watching him blatantly hunt for rebounds, especially whenever he battled for them with his own teammates.
This isn’t a dig on Russ.  I agree with his response to the “stat padding/stealing rebounds” narrative:
“A lot of people make jokes about stat-padding or going to get rebounds.  If people could get 20 rebounds a night, they would. If people could get 15 rebounds, they would.  The people that’s talking and saying whatever they need to say, they should try and do it and see how hard it is... I take pride in what I do.  I come out and play and I get the ball faster than somebody else gets to it.  That’s just what it is.  If you don’t want it, I’ma get it.  Simple as that.”
Nevertheless, I was tremendously amused of him aggressively taking rebounds from his own teammates.

Russ isn’t an MVP candidate this season, but averaging a triple-double for back-to-back seasons is awesome nevertheless.

3.) When Brandon Ingram Hit a Gamewinner Over the Sixers, Out of a Lonzo Ball Kickout
For Lakerdom, it was like a divine vision of a glorious future.

2A.) When the Los Angeles Lakers Retired Both of Kobe Bryant’s Jersey Numbers
Even when Kobe was still playing, I envisioned seeing both no. 8 and no. 24 retired, as it was the only logical recourse.  Thankfully, the Lakers organization also thought so.

This is one of the highlights of the season for me for, being a huge Kobe fan, of course, I take joy from whatever honor he gains.  And this was a great honor indeed.

But if you’ve noticed, this entry is “2A.”  It’s because it shares its spot with…

2B.) When Larry Nance Jr. Posterized Kevin Durant

During that same night, some of the current Lakers decided to pay tribute to Kobe through dunking on the shot-blocking Kevin Durant repeatedly.  The most ferocious came from Larry Nance Jr.
Larry didn’t win Dunk of the Year last year (he should have had).  I hope, this time around, he does with this one.

1.) The Most Savage Moment of the Season
Sweet Sakuragi!  It was as if Harden awoke his Mangekyō Sharingan and used Kamui on Wesley Johnson to send him to a different dimension.
Even if we remove all of his phenomenal stats and achievements this season, this play alone is enough for James Harden to win the MVP award, by virtue of principle.  This is simply so savage in so many levels – Wesley Johnson getting his ankles broken as Harden steps back, Johnson staying on the floor for quite a while, Harden licking his lips and staring Johnson down, the long pause before Harden shoots a trey to end Johnson’s misery.

My favorite reaction to it is when somebody edited Johnson’s Wikipedia page:
This is easily what I will remember best about the 2017-2018 NBA season, and this is probably the play Harden will be most remembered for.

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