PlayBook: Where The Bodies Are Buried

By Fraser Lockerbie

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The absolute last time we will ever talk about David Stern. Plus Week 13 NFL picks.


We were going to talk about football today and I was going to impart some serious old-style wisdom on you like why it’s never wise to bet heavily on the Steelers on cold, cloudless, moonless nights in November when Ben Roethlisberger is black-eyed and bloated and the Browns are in town. But instead I find myself slumped back and stupid, reeling in the wake of yet another ugly sighting of a doe-eyed David Stern. 

He’s been, for the better part of 29 years, like a swamp creature emerging from the muck only every so often to terrorize the small basketball towns that pepper the rural Midwest and we might have hoped that he would spend his lame duck years lying in a dark, quiet corner of the commissioner’s office, skulking around and stirring only on occasion to accept conciliatory praise but we as basketball people have never be considered so lucky by the great powers that be. Instead what we have is David Stern acting rabid, like a damned diseased dog gone mad and determined at whatever cost to bring what’s left of the league back down into the depths from whence it came.

Back when we were all still young, still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, never once did we think that someday Stern’s national television contract would supersede the well-being of a few well-past-their-prime players or the independence of a coach to decide on how best to field his team. But by God have the times have ever changed. Has David Stern ever soured on the idea of sport for sports sake and is now only concerned with making a fast buck at the expense of whatever.

He’s taken to panicked bouts screaming and writhing and thrown all his toys from the pram. And it’s only getting weirder; he’s dreaming in Technicolor and holding coaches to the kind of high moral standards he’s never had. Who the fuck is David Stern to deem something to be an “unacceptable [basketball] decision”? This from the same silly man who brought us “basketball reasons,” perhaps the least intelligible excuse in the history of sports. The same guy that has publicly castrated multiple NBA owners on a whim. The same guy accused of rigging more than one NBA draft to get better pick in a more marketable city and the same guy that said they could never supplant him as a commissioner because he “knew where the bodies were buried; he buried them himself.”

And now he wants to go waltzing through the front door in San Antonio and tell Greg Popovich who he can and can’t sit even after his hand-picked commissioner-in-waiting has spoken to the problem, stating that “the strategic resting of particular players on particular nights is within the discretion of the teams.” Jesus Christ.

David Stern has undermined so many people in his 29 year reign he can’t even keep them all straight anymore. He’s just throwing anyone within arm’s reach under the bus. He can’t talk about tanking; it’s November (and the Spurs are 13-4). He can’t talk about it being unfair to the fans; he’d be a hypocrite (and the game was a humdinger). He can’t talk about it being spiteful or stupid; the Spurs were coming off back-to-backs and four games in five nights with the division and league-leading Grizzlies on tap for Saturday (if anything, it was smart). He can’t sincerely talk about any of those things.

The only thing David Stern can legitimately speak to in this instance is how sitting three stars like Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker in a nationally televised game makes David Stern and the NBA look stupid in the eyes of their sponsors who only televised the game in the first place for the matchup. But it’s not like it’s costing Stern money; the downward tick in Neilsen ratings for last night’s game would barely register over the course of a season, and no TV contract has ever paid out by viewership points per night. That’s not really how these things work, Mr Stern. 

So what the fuck are you screaming about you Bass-Aackwards Hillbilly? What kind of example are you trying to make of Greg Popovich and the Spurs? If you want to dip you hands into the day-to-day affairs of a team, you had your chance; you owned one and had had no qualms about messing around with it. But the Hornets were the only team you should have been able to butt into and even then we took exception; you shouldn’t be allowed to butt your nose into the affairs of any team. You should stop butting your nose into basketball altogether and go back to whatever wasteland that bore you and take whatever hell-spawn you’ve left behind along for the ride.  

I’m done with you David. It’s football season and you’re fucking it up.

This Week’s Picks: 

Chicago (-3.5) over Seattle

I’d be more comfortable with this line if I knew Seattle’s corners were serving the suspension they deserved but I’ll settle for the second best run defense against an ice-cold Marshawn Lynch.

Tennessee (+6) over Houston

Call it a feeling…

Minnesota (+8) over Green Bay

Eight is a lot of points for a team that had nothing but soft matchups for five straight weeks then got thumped by the Giants 38-10. At 6-5 the Vikings are not fucking around; an upset here could have them in the middle of the playoff conversation.

New York (-2.5) over Washington

This is actually gambling on the seasonal Giants swoon and whether last week’s aberration in the Meadowlands was just that: an aberration from their routine rut or early turn around and we can all go home without calling for the head of Tom Coughlin for a change. Let’s go with the later just for kicks. 

St. Louis (+7.5) over San Francisco

San Fran tied the Rams with Alex Smith under center only a few weeks ago. No reason to think St. Louis can’t fall within seven a second time around. 

Philadelphia (+10) over Dallas

These are two mind -boggling bad teams playing in the same division, neither of whom should ever be allowed to lay ten on anybody let alone each other. 

Arizona (+4.5) over New York

One of these teams will win a football game this Sunday. 

Quick Slants: Carolina (-3) over Kansas City, Cleveland (-2.5) over Oakland, Indianapolis (+5) over Detroit, New England (-7) over Miami, Pittsburgh (+8) over Baltimore, Denver (-7) over Tampa Bay, Cincinnati (-1.5) over San Diego, Jacksonville (+6) over Buffalo

Last Week: 6-6-1

Overall: 97-60-5

Catch up on past PlayBooks here.


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