The Squad: Our NBA Letters to Santa
This weekend, as was my yearly tradition, I loaded the Christmas letters from the HoopsVibe writing team on behalf of David Stern and the NBA into the basket of my bicycle and prepared to pedal to the post office to have them delivered to jolly Saint Nick. Just as I was about to set off, however, I saw something unusual: In the site traffic data, there was a single visitor from Lapland. Intrigued, I ran it through a look-up service and found that Mr. Kringle himself was a basketball nut and had been making regular trips to HoopsVibe. So, instead of sending our missives to the big fella by snail mail, we decided it would make more sense to save the stamp money and post them up here for all to see.
I would really like an NBA-themed casino in Las Vegas. There are at least seven lucky up-sides to this so that I can make the NBA a world power and brush the referee scandal under the rug:
1. Increased revenue
2. It will increase the international fan-base. People come from all over the world to Las Vegas and introducing them to the NBA while there can only help
3. A headquarters for every All-Star Game so that athletes can “make it rain” in relative safety
4. Great farm system for cheerleaders
5. Tim Donaghy as the pit boss would be great security, right?
6. Double-Down Blackjack, anyone?
7. A home for the Sonics?
We here at the National Basketball Association realize you’re extremely busy at this time of year. But we would like to make a special holiday request. We want you to take out Isiah Thomas. Now we don’t want you to misinterpret what we’re asking for here. When we say ‘take out’ having him fired would be more than adequate. However, in the interest of retribution for all the damage he’s done to one of our most historically successful teams, and its loyal fans, I’m sure no one would feel all that bad if, say, a reindeer fell out of the sky and crushed him on his way out of MSG. It doesn’t have to be one of your good reindeer – Cupid, Donder, maybe you’ve got like a spare B team reindeer you can use. Maybe you can make some calls and have Jack Frost hit him with pneumonia. Look, we don’t care how you do it, but we need Isiah Thomas out of New York; we need the Knicks to be relevant again.
The Knicks used to be one of our best franchises, and now, thanks to Isiah Thomas, they’re nothing more than a poorly assembled conglomeration of individual talent that is poorly coached, has no cohesiveness whatsoever, and is currently sitting at the bottom of their division (8-18) ready for one more abysmal season. This is not acceptable. Something must be done.
National Basketball Association
P.S: Upon further consideration, we think it would only be fair to have a reindeer dropped on James Dolan, too. If possible, make it a big reindeer.
You’re likely reading this and thinking the NBA is not my gig. Too bad; like the five year old who needs the G.I. Joe with the Kung-Fu grip, the Association needs your services. So put in work, handle my requests, and I’ll hit you off with some dark beer when you drop off gifts for my five nephews.
1. Straighten out New York-New Jersey: I know. This may be impossible. It would probably be easier to solve world hunger, teach ‘W’ to read, and stop people from stereotyping Canadians as a bunch of ‘hoser’ drinking hockey fans.
But New York’s two teams must be fixed. In Madison Square Garden, Thomas seems incapable of making rational decisions and changes the roster every few months. Last night, he went after good guy and former Brandy/Moesha hubby ‘Q’ Richardson. Across the river, The Big Three experiment has gone stale so, Santa, step in and help Rod Thorn rectify the Nets before they move to Brooklyn.
The NBA needs New York and New Jersey to recover. Just look at how the league has benefited from Boston becoming relevant.
2. Solve the Seattle-Oklahoma City-New Orleans fiasco: Having an unstable franchise in your city isn’t fun. I went through this drama when the Grizzlies left Vancouver; of course, in some sick and twisted way, I was glad Bryant ‘Big Country’ Reeves permanently left Canada.
As a fan, it becomes impossible to emotionally invest in your team when things are in such a state of flux. Worst of all, owners hurt your love for hoops by threatening to leave unless some self-serving, on-the-take mayor forks over a couple hundred million in tax subsidies.
All three markets deserve the NBA. Seattle has a rich basketball history. Hopefully, the NBA can be part of New Orleans rebuilding. And Oklahoma City can certainly support pro hoops.
3. Get rid of the Buss family: An infant can see that the Buss clan has hurt Los Angeles. The Godfather and owner, Jerry, gets arrested for drunk-driving and grants tell-all interviews to local newspapers. Jerry’s daughter and son, who both work in the purple-and-gold’s front office, get in fights while appearing together on sports radio shows. Other family members use public myspace pages to talk about Kobe Bryant’s future.
Right now, the Lakers are winning in spite of the Buss regime. So Santa, let’s keep the good time rolling in Hollywood and find new ownership for the Lakers.
First of all I know you may be tempted to throw this letter out entirely before reading it. Let me remind you however that I’m still up for an appeal and I don’t think you should judge me until the criminal justice system does. Besides, this year I’m not even asking for selfish gifts, I think the following things would benefit basketball fans everywhere:
1. A new heart for George Shinn: It’s not that he doesn’t have one, it’s that it could really use a change-out. I’ve heard that the holiday season made one notable villain have his heart grow three sizes, maybe you could give Shinn some of the stuff that you gave Roger Clemens last Christmas.
2. A new brain for Isiah Thomas: He seems to have misplaced his. Although to be honest I’m not sure what the actual lobotomizing event is that you’d have to undo. I suspect it took place sometime between him kissing Magic Johnson during a game and running the CBA into the ground.
3. Some courage for the Bulls: Things aren’t going all that well and they seem scared to do anything. It’s time to grow some cojones and solve some problems even if that means taking risks.
4. Ruby Red Slippers for John Amaechi: Self-explanatory
Thank the missus for that great gift she gave me last year,
Let’s get this straight before we start: I don’t trust your ass. In my last letter, I specifically requested a growth spurt that would make me an even 6’6’’ in my socks, and I’m yet to see anything of the sort. You owe me half a foot, Kringle, and until I have the height to pick up that NBA swingman paycheque, we’ve got beef. Still, since this is the season of forgiveness, I’m willing to squash it temporarily to make this petition on half of the NBA. If I don’t see my Yuletide wishes fulfilled this time, though, I’m catching the next sled to Lapland to stick the North Pole where the sun don’t shine.
So, with the formality of violent threats against a fictional character aside, I move on to my Christmas wish list for the league. My friends here have already covered most of what I want, so I ask for only one thing.
1. Better marketing. Remember when the music and images of Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra were used to promote the league? That made me a sad little boy, Santa. Now, before I put my teeth in and start to rant for real, I should mention that I’ve got nothing against either artist. In fact, I rocked sideburns for several years as a teenager, and if I’m not murdering a Stevie Wonder track, it’s probably a Frankie tune I’m crooning in the shower. (I just lost my ghetto pass, didn’t I?)
Still, despite my appreciation for their respective legacies, I don’t see how they relate to the NBA, a league largely populated by young men from working-class backgrounds. Now, I understand that there’s a demographic difference between your personnel and your target audience, but get this: The NBA is part of hip-hop whether you like it or not, and until you use that as a marketing ploy, you’re missing out. Rap is the biggest-selling music genre on earth right now, and urban culture has gone mainstream. I’m not suggesting you get the 2Live Crew to record a track for your next commercial, but if companies pushing cola drinks and potato chips can find a way to use hip-hop to market their products, I’m sure there’s a family-friendly way the NBA can manage it. Oh, and letting Snoop sit courtside doesn’t count.
With best wishes and a reminder of my previous threat of bodily harm,