"Great athletes sometimes find themselves in these clarifying final acts. Shaq retired in a cloud of chummy nonchalance. Jordan went out on a play that completed the perfection of his all-important legacy (and then came back to screw it up, in a move that told us just as much about what drove him). Most of the time, though, careers wind down in ways that mean nothing except that time is passing. Remember Karl Malone in Los Angeles? This season is the distillation of the go-it-alone challenge Kobe set for himself back when O’Neal and Phil Jackson left L.A., or even sooner — Kobe, remember, is the star player who invited none of his teammates to his wedding. (It’s a wonder he invited his wife.) He can’t win, a fact that has no apparent bearing on the fury with which he is trying. We’re seeing Kobe stripped of everything except the will to succeed, a will that persists despite being hopeless. We’re seeing him face his doom with a fearlessness that is ludicrous, profane, and maybe slightly inspiring. We’re seeing the existential Kobe Bryant." Grantland's Brian Phillips on Kobe Bryant. [more inside]
Just in time for the new season, it's The NBA Fan’s Guide to Talking Trash During Pickup Basketball
Grantland's longform piece on former Philadelphia high school basketball superstar Eddie Griffin, whose brief career and life ended in 2007 when he crashed his SUV into a train. [more inside]
Hack-a-Shaq, inconsistent officiating, poisoned room service, and the road to the last NBA three-peat: Grantland's oral history of the 2002 Western Conference finals. [more inside]
Bill Simmons, Grantland boss and 30 for 30 executive producer, went from a little known Boston blogger to one of the most successful sports writers in the history of American media. Rolling Stone's Rob Tannenbaum took a deeper look at Simmons.
Databall. With an ocean of new statistical information available, the NBA could be on the verge of understanding the value of every single movement on the court.
Sheed and Stack in the Big Apple is a new piece by Grantland's Jonathan Abrams about the NBA veterans Rasheed Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse
After months of rumors and frustration, it appears that Dwight Howard has been traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-team trade. Here is Bill Simmons rapid reaction.
"Ever wondered why there are only 5 positions in basketball or how a player’s position is determined?" Maybe not. But analytics are becoming more and more important in basketball, to the point where some are questioning some fundamental 'facts' about the game. After the MIT Sloan Sports conference this year specifically addressed the role of analytics in basketball, there has been a bit of a backlash against the practice among commentators, coaches and fans. Yet the projects just keep coming, including this recently updated web project using some amazing mapping analysis: Courtvision [more inside]
"Internationally, the league has never been stronger: It's the only American sports league that attracts stars from every corner of the world. Digitally, the league has been light years ahead of everyone else, embracing the revolution and staying ahead of the curve with social media and video content. It's also spent the past two decades carefully (and successfully) selling mostly black players to a mostly white audience, an ongoing conundrum that nearly submarined the league in the late-'70s and early-'80s. Throw in a killer 2011 Finals and everything looks fantastic on paper … except for the part that the league is losing money." - Bill Simmons analyzes the NBA labor dispute for his new website, Grantland.