October 31, 2007

Breaking Down NBA Teams’ Halloween Superlatives

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Tonight, beginning at 7 p.m., Magic will be in the air. Wizards will even walk the Earth. I’m not a wicken, and I’m not crazy. I’m not talking about trick or treating or Halloween mysticism. It’s finally NBA time!

For all you bums out there who still haven’t pulled together a costume for the continuing Halloween festivities, here are a few suggestions for a low-cost and low-effort, yet infinitely educational outfit.

The Scariest:

Of course, the scariest costume would be found in one of the scariest cities in America — Detroit. After going 53-29 last year for the best record in the East, the Pistons have all the tools to make a run for the championship. In assist-to-turnover king Chauncey Billups to create offense at point, Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace to stifle opposing offenses and Richard Hamilton to scare the opponent into submission, the Pistons have a core of experienced players who want revenge for last year’s playoff loss to the Cavs.

And though the intense Rasheed is quite frightening, especially when he’s angry at a ref, there is another player who better lends himself to collegiate costume delight. Duh…the one with the Freddy Kruger facemask — RIP defenders on Rip.

The Funniest:

New York is not known as the most forgiving town, and the Knicks have been a perpetual embarrassment. Now that the team has additional post presence in the form of former Trail Blazer Zach Randolph, there will be no excuse for another season like last year’s, in which the Knicks were 16th in the NBA in points scored per game (97.5) and 20th in points allowed (100.3).

Second-year coach Isaiah Thomas and host Madison Square Garden have had their own vaguely amusing, mostly sad dramas over the offseason, but the biggest clown of all by far is the one at the top of the key, the one who recently announced that he would be moving to Italy when his contract expires in two years: “It’s like a [David] Beckham thing.”

It is almost too easy to make fun of point guard and erstwhile philanthropist Stephon Marbury. With some Starburys to cushion your feet as you partake in Halloween fun throughout Ithaca, carry around some spaghetti to transform yourself into one of the craziest

The Prettiest:

My beloved Wizards (the first basketball game I ever saw was during the MJ years) are once again viewed as the underdogs. The Big Three — Antawn Jamison (sprained left knee in January), Gilbert Arenas (also left knee, in April) and Caron Butler (right hand in April) — all went out with injuries after the Wizards had been leading the conference.

Even though the team starts out the season with another injury, losing poet Etan Thomas after open heart surgery, the Wizards are much more legitimate contenders than the polls give them credit for. DeShawn Stevenson won’t be doing all of the Wizards’ work on D this year, as the team’s biggest weakness has been a focus in the preseason. Washington also has a mix of experience and youthful enthusiasm coming off the bench, with energetic veteran Antonio Daniels, second-year backup center Andray Blatche and a former USC star in rookie Nick Young.

It’s sad to think about, but superstar Gilbert Arenas will also be extra motivated to make something happen this year to make himself look better on the market next year. In Washington, like Halloween in Ithaca, there’s no time like the present.

Arenas, in fact, should serve as a model for all you aspiring ladies men on the prowl tonight. When he’s in the zone, not even Lebron can score in such clutch fashion as Gilbert — making it look easy. It’s all about the sex appeal, as many coeds would say about Halloween, and there’s nothing sexier than making it look effortless.

As Arenas said in an interview with Complex Magazine a couple weeks ago, “You know what, a buzzer beater [feels better than sex] because it’s harder. You can get sex every day.”

Can you get any smoother than Agent Zero? I challenge you to try.

The X Factor
A triple threat: Frightening, Fun and Foxy

1. Golden State’s playoff heroics against the Maverick’s last year have created some interested expectations for the upcoming season. This is a scrappy team that will frustrate much of the competition.

You too can feel like a true NBA star, which seems to require some ink and/or a tendency for violent outbursts on and off the court. Just get a marker, and you can have your own (less permanent) replica of famous forward Stephen Jackson’s new chest tattoo: two praying hands holding a gun in front of a church. Interpret it however you like, but there’s no denying that it’s a good conversation starter. Work that tat!

2. I honestly think the party’s gonna be in Chicago this year. The Bulls have a true star in small forward Luol Deng and have no real weak link in the starting lineup, especially now that Tyrus Thomas has had some time to develop into the post presence the team needs him to be. The acquisition of Florida standout Joakim Noah only adds to the possibilities for this potentially explosive team.

And the fieriest one of the bunch is definitely Ben Wallace. Big Ben would make an excellent costume, because he is larger than life. This one is more about the attitude. Wallace may not have the shots, but he’s got the swats. Basketball fans will recognize your costume as soon as you start bringing massive blocks to the party. Just don’t get too immersed in the character. Halloween’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.

3. There’s nothing really to say about the Spurs. They won it all last year, and they quite probably will do it again by sheer force of reliable talent, with Tony Parker at the helm. And now, the easiest costume accessory in history: a French accent. For some extra fun, you could even start rapping in that French accent … badly. Happy Hauntings!