The Nerd’s Guide to The NBA

World famous Renaissance man Yennaedo Balloo somehow found the time to help us bridge the gap between nerd culture and mainstream sports. Check him out on social media and for the love of God support his work how ever you can!

We can’t win ’em all, and it’s a guarantee that on a night out having cold ones with the boys the conversation will, at some point, veer away from the latest Batman and Pokemon news, and turn towards a “sportball” of some kind. My nerd street cred is black card status, but there’s a certain itch at wanting to be well rounded and not totally left out when conversations turn to sports. I humbly suggest to my fellow nerds to follow the NBA as a means of having a foot in the door on this realm of sweaty professional athletics.

Why the NBA do you ask? Because it’s honestly the most nerd ready:

The Year Round Season

“Come off the bench AND touch the ball? Nah, ‘Melo don’t play that.”

Plenty of sports writers have made this phrase old hat, but it’s become pretty true: the NBA provides year-long entertainment and drama even in its off season. While all sports have trades, drafts and such, the NBA has a uniquely high turnover rate season to season. This player movement and team trading means there’s always something to talk about.

Players rarely sign contracts for longer than 4 years, if that, and even then there are clauses generally built in for players to opt out and go rogue after a year or two. In addition to this, teams pass players around like so many Magic: the Gathering decks to improve their offense, enchantments, and… walls? Yeah I guess Centers are like Wall cards.

Point being, it’s a dynamic environment with lots of change that has a structure to it that you can enjoy and follow just the same way I used to enjoy the tweaks and trading for my own Magic deck (myWater-Forest deck invites all challengers to come get rekt, btw).

Dem Memes Tho

#MemeTeam

LeBron James’s Los Angeles Lakers have been dubbed the #MemeTeam by the internet, and yet again the internet remains undefeated. This year’s Lakers squad is like the bobsled team from Cool Runnings except, my God, they’re winning. Yeah, I know Crying Jordan has run its course, but guess what? Last Summer’s playoffs alone were a consistent wealth of incredible memes.

If you do the Twitter, I strongly recommend following @worldwidewob for a great hybrid of NBA humor and insight. Aside from the ongoing wealth of gif-able moments, there are so many running jokes to enjoy (eg, Harden’s a crazy flopper, J.R. Smith never met a 3 point shot he wouldn’t take, etc). You can get by without knowing worth a damn where any team sits in the season standings.

A personal favorite at TehBen HQ

The Standings Don’t Really Matter Until They Do

With 32 teams, and two separate conferences, it can seem like a lot to follow and keep track of. Simple advice? You really don’t need to know all that. Having a decent sense of whether a team is doing well (The Clippers are winning quite a bit), or poorly (The Suns are doing sobadly that I should have to pay a fine for making fun of such low in the standings hanging fruit). There’s a great show about nerds called the IT Crowd, and in one episode Moss (Richard Ayoade) has a subscription to an online service that provides nerds like him key phrases to get away with appearing like a “normie” who can talk about the latest in English League football.

So here’s my key phrase for you all should anyone bring up team standings in the first ⅔ of the season: “Well, you’ve really gotta wait until All Star Weekend to see where things settle.”

Are we normies yet?

Seriously, anyone truly familiar with the NBA knows this is true. The first 20 or so games of the 82 game season? They can swing either way, and teams have climbed from the lower end of the standings all the way to top seeding for the playoffs. Once you get past that landmark “All Star Weekend,” that’s when teams have finally settled into their momentum and pace. At long last, this is where the standings start to become impactful and fun to follow. Until then? They’re just games.

Pick a Feud

I considered closing this off with a tip onpicking a team to follow, but that quickly becomes a boring slog if you don’t have genuine allegiance to the team (if you did, you wouldn’t be reading this). I recommend finding an NBA feud and following the player(s) involved.

Maybe you’re intrigued right now by the supposed infighting among the once indomitable Warriors between Kevin Durant (who could possibly leave the team next Summer, see section 1 above), and Draymond Green.

Durant suddenly reconsiders who da real MVP might have been.

Maybe you like the longer simmering feud of Russell Westbrook having a chip on his shoulder from Durant already having left him and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Maybe you like the battle of man and corporation, and would enjoy following the performance of players betrayed indifferent ways by their former teams- Kawhi Leonard now of the Raptors and Demar Derozan now of the Spurs.

Maybe you really liked that bit about the #MemeTeam that’s somehow winning and see that as a feud between logic and chaostheory on the NBA courts.

Whatever your flavor, you don’t have to look far to find one that suits your flair for drama or comedy alike. No one can watch all these damn games, but hey, find your niche and stick with it. I believe in you, and I’m sure before long you can make some salient points about how truly effective Point Guards play against the shot clock just as much as they do against opposing defense (another freebie), and you’ll get some approving head nods until you can turn the conversation at the bar back to discussing all the different Pokemon you spotted in the Detective Pikachu Trailer.

Ball is life, nerds.

Yennaedo Balloo is one of the coolest dudes on the Internet. Follow him on Twitter. Check out his novels on Amazon, and check out even more of his work on optionalirony.com 

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