The NBA at the all-star break, from the view of Couch Slouch


Oklahoma City Thunder's Kevin Durant (35) makes an uncontested dunk against the Orlando Magic during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla., Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (John Raoux/AP)
February 16

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:

Adam Silver replaces David Stern as NBA commissioner. What a year it’s been — Jay Leno involuntarily stepped down from “The Tonight Show” after 22 years, and Stern just imperially stepped down from his NBA throne after 30 years. I guess Leno ran out of jokes and Stern ran out of fines.

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 time-share he had to use? Or maybe he wanted to retire in time 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.

Do yourself a favor and root for the Phoenix Suns. Now in their 46th season as an NBA franchise, the Suns have never won an NBA title. They almost certainly won’t win it in 2014, but they’ve gone from a 25-57 record last season to 30-21 this season.

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 bobblehead doll.

That funk you smell coming from your NBA League Pass subscription is the Eastern Conference. This is all you need to know: At any given time, the Washington Wizards are the third-best team in the East. This, of course, is the equivalent of being the third-best sushi chef in Turkmenistan.

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 41 / 2 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.

How unstoppable is Kevin Durant? He’s unguardable — not as unguardable as, say, Bigfoot, but pretty darn close. And even though he’s on his way to his fourth scoring title in five years, for Durant these days it’s much more than just making shots.

Remarkably, this might be Durant’s third consecutive season increasing his shooting percentage, three-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 gettting better, like Picasso did between 1901 and 1906.

Andrew Bynum is (almost) back in uniform, baby! You know your career has ebbed when teams trade for you so they can immediately cut you to save on salary. Plus, at this point, Bynum makes Greg Oden look like Lou Gehrig.

“People have opinions. I don’t respond to it,” Bynum said recently. “I just go out and play.” Uh, play what? Not basketball. He did bowl some during the 2012-13 NBA season he missed entirely while on the 76ers’ payroll.

Now a Pacer, Bynum says he’s had no training regimen since he last played with the Cavaliers seven weeks ago. Rather, he’s stayed in shape “just eating correctly.” Wow. That means Julia Child is NBA-ready!!!

Frankly, Couch Slouch can’t believe any team would offer Bynum more than a 10-day contract. And if it were me, I’d only give this fella a 10-hour contract — let’s see whether he can make it from breakfast to dinner in one piece before committing to him long-term.

Ask The Slouch

Q. Any truth to the rumor that, having withdrawn his lawsuit against Major League Baseball, Alex Rodriguez has begun training for the Tour de France? (Bob Dalton; Arlington)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. Is it true that Atlanta has applied for the 2018 Winter Olympics in hopes that the curling teams could sweep the ice off the interstates? (Jim Myers; Lapel, Ind.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. If one of the dogs at Westminster is injured and can’t continue, is he placed on the PUP list? (Stephen Pappas; White Plains, N.Y.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. If someone is hurt playing Russian roulette in Sochi, are they covered by Obamacare? (Jack O’Brien; Fairfax)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just e-mail asktheslouch@aol.com, and if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!

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