Tom Brady’s a bore. The NFL’s a snore. No one cares about them anymore. Americans, all 320 million of them, are focusing all of their sports attention and mental energy on the new-fangled NBA. It’s officially become – as of right this minute — America’s favorite way to waste valuable time that they could be spent more productive things like watering the plants and scanning Instagram messages.
A whole new cast of super-youthful, fresh, and compelling characters has taken over the league. We’ve not treated to compelling, sit-up-in-your-boxer-shorts theatre worth talking about day and night to anyone within earshot.
The two characters leading the resurgence of this league – like Magic and Bird did in the 1980s – are My Name is Luka Doncic and Trae I’m Still Very Young. Both are 22 years old have plenty of basketball years left in them for us to savor.
Both play basketball with a style that says “I know how to play this game.” It’s not bravado; it’s fact.
Luca’s a marvel, a thing of wonder, a person we all watch play and ask “how does he play that well?” From 30 feet he drains step-back shots with ease and startling frequency. From inside the lane, he floats short shots that nobody can defend or block. He’ll get a defender on his backside as he keeps dribbling and the defender can’t do anything but watch Luka operate like a surgeon. It’s intelligence, a flair, and talent possessed by so few.
The star from Slovenia is averaging 34 points per game in the series now heading to Game 7 tonight against the Clippers. The question is whether the double-teaming and trapping of Luka in Game 6 that worked well will be effective again against this Basketball Wonderkid.
I’d bet on his talent and basketball know-out to figure out a way to overcome the constant double-team defensive pressure he’s facing.
As for Trae, he’s already done sending the Knicks and those lovable fans home and starts to wield his wand again in the next series versus Philly this weekend. In Madison Square Garden, he scored over 30 points in three different games in these playoffs. Only one other guy’s ever done that – somebody named Michael Jordan.
Leave Trae open from 30 and he’ll fire it upon you and stick it – all game long. Get up close and he’ll drive in the lane and send up a teardrop over the bigs that’ll go in. Against the Knicks, he poured in 29 a game. Talk trash at Trae. Go ahead. He loves that. He’ll bow in your face after dispatching off your sorry squad.
Together, Luka and Trae are the future of the NBA. Amazing to watch, so talented and smart and competitive, these are the two guys Americans won’t be able to take their eyes off for the next five years.
They won’t be nearly as interested in watching other guards in the league such as Freddie Boom Boom Washington Kyrie Irving.
“That’s bull,” Freddie said via text to Sammy Sportface. “I’m a basketball genius and the best guard in the NBA.”
Sorry, Freddie. You’re not. And you’re a much bigger jerk than Luka and Trae. People aren’t attracted to people who call themselves basketball geniuses especially after talking their ways off two teams, the Cavs and Celtics, because you thought you were better than all those guys. The thing was, Freddie, your teammates thought you weren’t a good teammate and, worse, kind of a big jerk and disruption and, oh, arrogant.
Luka and Trae don’t call themselves basketball geniuses. But they are. Which makes them likable as people and guys you want to root for because their skills are so exquisite and their competitiveness so fierce.
There are others raising the NBA to America’s favorite sport. The next guy on that list has got to be Nikola The Joker Jokic of the Denver Nuggets. He’s popping in 33 a game.
But like with Luka and Trae, the scoring is so far from the entire story. He’s a brilliant passer. He sets picks and hands the ball off at the free-throw line and gets his teammates open shots.
All three of these guys excel at doing this. Great players pass great, not just shoot great. Great players dribble great, too. Luka and Trae handle the ball with grace and skill and smoothness.
Jokic, from Serbia, got the name Joker because he’s a big fan of the “Joker” hit song by the Steve Miller Band.
“I like that song line ‘people call me the space cowboy, some call me the gangster of love,’ he said. “On the court, I’m the gangster of pick and roll offense.”
Nobody in the history of the NBA has ever worked the pick and roll offense any more effectively than The Joker.
Speaking of music, Luka has two favorite songs he likes to listen to while shooting 8,000 shots a day. One is “Luka’s Mom,” a knock-off of “Stacy’s Mom” by Fountains of Wayne. The other is “My Name is Luka” by Suzanne Vega. Luka’s so enamored with the song that he hired Sammy Sportface to write his own lyrics that he listens to while practicing. Here are the magical words:
My name is Luka.
I live in the basketball gym.
I live near Mark Cuban’s office.
Yes, I think he’s seen me before.
If you hear something late at night.
Some kind of bounce
Some sound of a swish
You can be sure it’s me.
You can be sure it’s me.
You can be sure it’s me