Here's the short version of what we know about the NBA this season: New commissioner, how 'bout those Phoenix Suns, that foul odor is the Eastern Conference, Kevin Durant is unstoppable and Andrew Bynum should've been un-signable. But you paid for the long version - assuming you didn't steal this newspaper from a neighbor's front porch - so here it is:
By the way, who packs it in at midseason? This would be like a Burger King day-shift manager quitting between the breakfast and lunch rush. Did Stern have a timeshare he had to use? Or maybe he wanted to retire in time to allow him to watch the Sochi Games unencumbered.
Stern will be missed: He resuscitated and expanded the NBA in multiple, untold ways, he single-handedly discovered Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, and he was never ever wrong about anything.
How have they done it? The out-of-fashion way - credit first-year coach Jeff Hornacek for that - by trying a little something us old-timers like to call "team play."
Here is your Suns starting five at the moment: Goran Dragic, Gerald Green, P.J. Tucker, Channing Frye and, at center, Miles Plumlee. Yeah, that Miles Plumlee. The only reason I know Plumlee is because he went to Duke - I make voodoo dolls out of all Duke starters and stick pins in them before every Duke game.
But in Phoenix, I now have a Miles Plumlee bobble head doll.
If the Eastern Conference were an airline, it would be Pan Am.
Let's briefly compare two fallen, iconic franchises - the Celtics and the Lakers. At the all-star break, the Celtics are a horrid 19-35, which, in the East, puts them just 4 ½ games out of a playoff spot. The Lakers are an equally horrid 18-35, which, in the West, puts them closer to Pluto than to a playoff spot.
Remarkably, this might be Durant's third consecutive season increasing his shooting percentage, 3-point percentage, assists per game, steals per game and scoring average. In other words, even though he's already one of the best, HE'S GETTING BETTER, like Picasso did between 1901 and 1906.