Everybody in the NBA makes a lot of money, but nobody gets along. “Family Feud” could do a month-long NBA version and not run out of hostilities, squabbles and quarrels.
Heck, DeMarcus Cousins is probably clashing with himself right now.
The thing is, most of the antagonism and strife is petty, and, in the larger scheme of things — and, here, Couch Slouch is speaking of complex lives hurtling existentially through a soulless, climate-challenged universe seeking a meaningful purpose before shuffling off this mortal coil — insignificant.
Take the current Kevin Durant-Russell Westbrook friction. It’s kids’ stuff. For perspective, I direct Sports Nation to the infamous Hatfield-McCoy feud:
The Hatfields and the McCoys had land next to each other. After a Hatfield allegedly murdered a McCoy — never a good-neighbor gesture — the rancor ratcheted up when the two families bickered over who owned a particular hog. Yes, a hog. Then one of the McCoys fell in love with one of the Hatfields and left the McCoys for the Hatfields, and it got very, very, very nasty after that.
Moral of the story: When you leave one kin for another, emotions run high.
Which, actually, brings us right to Durant and Westbrook, as well as some other ongoing NBA acrimony of late:
Kevin Durant vs. Russell Westbrook. They were Thunder teammates for eight seasons, until Durant chose to go to the Warriors, presumably to create a “super team’ in pursuit of a title; I still think he might’ve left because he can eat a lot better in the Bay Area than in Oklahoma City.
Most of Westbrook’s ill will supposedly is because Durant failed to call him when he decided to bolt. Sure, Durant probably should’ve at least left a voice mail, but, come on — when my ex-wives got out of Dodge, I never got a phone call, either; they just left a house key on the nightstand and some lasagna in the fridge.
I’ve moved on. Westbrook should, too.
James Dolan vs. Charles Oakley. It’s hard to be a Jim Dolan fan. During his wretched 18-year stewardship, the Knicks have had two good things — Marv Albert and Jeremy Lin — and he let both of them go. As a sports owner, Dolan makes Daniel Snyder look like Branch Rickey.
On Feb. 8, Oakley – sitting several rows behind Dolan and allegedly directing insults toward him – was ejected from Madison Square Garden, hustled out by security guards and arrested. Many Knicks fans and NBA players came to Oakley’s defense; meanwhile, in a pathetic and transparent P.R. stunt, at the next Knicks home game Dolan surrounded himself with every living ex-Knick other than Harthorne Wingo.
Frankly, if you’re leaning on Latrell Sprewell to leverage public support, you might have a problem.
Charles Barkley vs. LeBron James. First, TNT’s lovable, loose-lipped commentator called LeBron “whiny” and told him it was “inappropriate” to keep asking Cavaliers management for more players. Then LeBron fired back, recalling how Barkley once threw someone through a window, once spit on a kid and once had unpaid debt to a Las Vegas casino.
They both made unassailable points.
I’m going with Sir Charles over King James, though, because he’s paid to entertainingly give his viewpoint, and, while sometimes wacky, he’s doing his job. As for LeBron, if you have three NBA titles and a 30,000-square-foot mansion, enjoy some pistachios and Sprite in your home theater before you stress and fret over the peanut gallery.
Carmelo Anthony vs. Phil Jackson. The Knicks are one part reality show, one part nuclear waste dump. Melo has been a toxic presence with two franchises, but the Zen Master — completing his third failed year running the team — is worse, communicating only through cryptic, passive-aggressive tweets.
In his last Twitter missive, Jackson zenfully ended with these words: “Our society is torn with discord. I’m against it. Let It Be.” If I were James Dolan, I’d ban Jackson from social media before I’d ban Oakley from the arena.
Maybe Jeanie Buss broke it off because every time she called her fiancé, he tweeted her back.
Magic Johnson vs. Isiah Thomas. Did they ever start talking to each other again?
Q. The Yankees recently signed Chris Carter (41 home runs, 206 strikeouts) to a one-year, $3.5 million contract. Can you think of another profession or entity where a 5-to-1 ratio of worst possible outcome to best possible outcome can be so lucrative? (Mark Kulzer; Wynantskill, N.Y.)
A. Uh, the Trump Organization?
Q. As the Browns engage in tense negotiations with Terrelle Pryor, do you think they might be able to sweeten the deal with some coupons for free tattoos? (Eddie Vidmar; Cleveland)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
Q. Do you think Charles Oakley can get in to see the Westminster Dog Show? (Bob Obrist; Arlington, Va.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
Q. Was Jimmy Hoffa really spotted in New Jersey wearing Tom Brady’s jersey? (Tom Martella; Washington, D.C.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
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