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Media day is the unofficial start of the new NBA season. Right before training camps open, players take a few hours to sit for interviews, take photos, and do whatever else their publicity team demands. It’s usually a pretty anodyne affair. Boilerplate answers are the rule with everyone seeking to avoid causing controversy so they can start the season off on the right foot.
This year though, things were a bit different. In Philadelphia, Ben Simmons failed to show up, expressing his displeasure with a team that threw him under the bus after losing in the playoffs, tried to trade him, and then tried to make amends as if none of this had happened. Both Devin Booker and Kyrie Irving appeared virtually, unable to come in person due to health and safety protocols.
Accordingly, much of the discussion today was about COVID, with multiple players publicly discussing their refusal to take the vaccine. It was frustrating, not only to hear such talking points echoed but to see so little push back from vaccinated players or the league itself. While over 90 percent of NBA players are vaccinated, it was the unvaccinated minority that dominated the discussion.
Though today’s media day was a more serious affair than it usually is, there were still a lot of silly things that got lost in the shuffle of Ben Simmons rumors and testy discussions about the coronavirus vaccine. Here are some of the best.
David Letterman showed up to NBA Media Day
David Letterman briefly came out of retirement to show up at media day in Brooklyn and ask Kevin Durant some hard-hitting questions such as why he goes by KD, if he can play for the Knicks on off-days, and if playing against the Pelicans makes him giggle. It was a real meeting of the minds. All that was missing was Letterman rapping a stack of index cards on a desk, then looking over to Paul Shaffer to make another wise-crack.
Ever wanted to take a boat trip with Klay Thomspon? Here’s how:
Klay Thompson often posts short videos of him on a boat or in a kayak, navigating the San Francisco Bay. Kerith Burke of NBC Sports helped unearth some new information about Klay’s aquatic adventures today, informing fans that Klay calls his boat either the Nordic Knife or the Splash Express. Also, “on a clear day with good conditions, his commute to the arena via his 37-footer is about 15 mins.” If you are like me and have thought about how cool it would be to join Thompson on his boat, he has three requirements. First, you must be able to tie a boat not; second, you have to be able to go an hour without becoming seasick; and third, you must show an appreciation for the water. Guess it’s time for me to work on my knot-tying skills.
Zion Williamson broke his foot???
At NBA media day, the Pelicans announced that Zion Williamson had a fractured right foot and underwent surgery on it over the summer. While he is still rehabilitating, the team expects him to be back in time for the season. What amazes me most about this is that Zion and the team were able to keep this under wraps until today. Apparently, Williamson has a group of very loyal friends
The Nuggets are better artists on the court than off of it
Denver challenged its players to draw their logo from memory. It did not go especially well. I did not expect to spend part of my afternoon wondering if Michael Porter Jr. has object permanence, but his drawing raises some questions.
Both the Pelicans and the Mavericks had a dog present for their NBA media day. A french bulldog hounded Kira Lewis Jr., showing the kind of on-ball defensive tenacity that the Pelicans could really benefit from this upcoming season. Meanwhile, in Dallas, a dog really took to Tim Hardaway Jr., who believed the affection was only due to its smelling his own dog. Regardless, it was still cute.
Frontcourt drama in Milwaukee?
Bobby Portis and Brook Lopez appeared together and Portis asked Lopez if he was able to go to Disney World during the offseason. Lopez, predictably, went to both Disney World and Disney Land. Portis appeared a little hurt that he was not invited to join. However, Lopez assured Portis that they could go to Disney World together when the team visits Orlando after Christmas, resolving what could have been an interpersonal crisis for the defending champions. Portis even floated the idea of them being given their own reality show, maybe the local Bally Sports affiliate would be interested.
Charlie’s Angels reboot?
Jimmy Butler: Small Business Owner
Over a year removed from the Bubble, Jimmy Butler tries to keep the legacy of Big Face Coffee alive by making sure a cup is in frame during Kyle Lowry’s press conference.
The Indiana Pacers are celebrating Christmas early
Hopefully,’ Santa can give them a healthy T.J. Warren this year.
Steph Curry is clearly a dad
Most of the talk about the coronavirus vaccine was dispiriting. The general rhetoric was that opting to get vaccinated or not is a “personal choice,” which is a very silly and inaccurate thing to say about an issue of public health. Though it’s an understandable response as no one wants to upset teammates or friends throughout the league. However, there was one moment that was very funny.
Reporters asked Stephen Curry for his view of Andrew Wiggins’ refusal to be vaccinated, which would currently keep him from playing for the Warriors at home. Curry has been an NBA superstar for nearly a decade and is too adept at navigating the pitfalls of media availability to say something inflammatory. Accordingly, while his words are fairly nondescript — he says that Wiggins’ choice is “not ideal” — the tone is that of a belabored dad who has had to explain himself a thousand times and whose children are still not listening. Curry’s not mad at Wiggins. He’s just disappointed.
Glamour shots for the Coyote
Despite being over 38 years old, the San Antonio Coyote looks as good and as fresh as ever. Whatever his furcare routine is, it is working.
To the NBA players who are doing their “research” about the COVID vaccine, let’s hope they read this in-depth interview with Karl-Anthony Towns who lost his mother to the disease last year.
We’re rolling out our annual ranking of the best young players in the NBA this week. Remember to check out the full 25-under-25 list and follow along as we count our way down to the top.
And make sure to check out our profiles for the first players, announced today:
Ian Levy on Tyrese Haliburton (No. 20), ready to play Scottie Pippen if the Kings can find a Jordan.
Bryan Toporek on Jaren Jackson Jr. (No. 19), who can be a game-changer if he can stay healthy.
Matthew Miranda on Cade Cunningham (No. 18), who is as much on his shoulders as any recent rookie.
Me on Jarrett Allen (No. 17), who may or may not be an essential piece for the Cavaliers.
And Ben Ladner on Lonzo Ball (No. 16), who quietly just keeps getting better.