So they did this text poll during Wednesday night’s Nets game against Detroit: other than Jason Kidd, who is the best rebounding guard in the history of the NBA? Oscar Robinson won with forty-odd percent of the vote, followed by Magic Johnson with twenty-odd percent, Michel Jordan with just slightly less of the vote than Magic, and Clyde Drexler picking up the remaining votes (not very much). The announcers said they were surprised: they didn’t think that the Big O’s generation would be familiar enough with text messaging to achieve that result.
Now, the answer to that question is clearly Oscar Robinson. Over his first years in the league Robinson averaged a triple double (ten each of rebounds, points and assists), a feat which no one, at any position, has ever even approached. Major League Baseball will probably see another .400 hitter before anyone in the NBA will average a triple double again. The Jason Kidd caveat is irrelevant: when Kidd gets ten rebounds it is a minor occasion and Kidd does it far more frequently than any other guard in the today’s NBA.
Screw the Nets guys for thinking that the Big O’s winning was due to old folks knowing from cell phones, rather than young folks knowing from the history of the NBA. I very rarely (I actually think this is a first) feel the need to stick up for my generation, but I’ll say this for us: we tend to critically examine the numbers generated by sport, and even put those numbers in some kind of historical context. We fucking know that the Big O was the probably the best rebounding guard in the NBA. We aren’t like the previous generations of sports fans who only believe in things that they saw: we understand that a sports team consists of an aggregate of parts that can best be understood by examining statistics. Young basketball fans have straight up used the internet for to do more than watch videos of dunks: we have educated ourselves about the history of the game, and tried to understand today’s game in that context. I am unbelievably insulted that the Nets announcers attributed those poll results to anything else.
Anyway, in light of that Nets game, you heard it here first: Detroit Pistons win the championship. It is delightful to watch anyone do anything as well as the Pistons have played basketball over the years. Although the West is generally regarded as the vastly superior conference, Tim Duncan and Steve Nash, the linchpins of the two least flawed teams, are both a year older and playing with teams that do not seem to have grown in proportion to Detroit. This year, Detroit has wildly improved bench and a great mix of exciting young players coupled with a veteran core that has proved unbelievably consistent over the years: it is hard to think about their team and not imagine big things.