Good morning. Here’s the best NBA writing of 2014.
We finish the year with a special edition. Subscribe to get Good Morning It’s Basketball in your inbox every weekday.
Good morning. In lieu of your normal roundup of daily links and idle thoughts, since it is the end of 2014, we wanted to share with you what we feel is the best basketball writing of the year (listed in no particular order). This will not be comprehensive because nothing can be. So if your awesome piece was left off, consider it more an oversight than snub. Also note that I included just two SB Nation pieces in the interest of some flavor of impartiality.
Thanks to Mike Prada and Paul Flannery for helping me round up the links. Enjoy!
“Ryan Anderson Tries to Move Forward” by Chris Ballard, Sports Illustrated. One of the most heartrending stories of the year, basketball or not. Ballard balanced the horror of depression and suicide with the hope for healing deftly.
“The sad last chapter of Donald Sterling’s Life” by Ramona Shelburne, ESPN The Magazine. Shelburne was a major driver of the Sterling story all spring, and this tick-tock on the end of the saga was glorious both in its news value and 10,000-foot perspective.
“Why Isn’t Delonte West in the NBA?” by David Haglund, Slate. More than a story specifically about West’s virtual blacklisting from the NBA — which the story is at its heart — Haglund’s piece looks at how mental illness can destroy relationships, careers and lives. A harrowing tale if you know anyone with serious mental illness (which is likely).
“All the Kings’ Men” by Jonathan Abrams, Grantland. This was Abrams’ oral history of the 2002 Western Conference Finals, which means I needed a glass of whiskey and four days to finish it. But it’s so well-crafted that even someone who derives pain from that series can love it. Outside the oral history genre, Abrams’ Eddie Griffin feature is worth noting. Abrams is so ridiculously good, and NBA fans are blessed he writes about our sport.
“How Kawhi Leonard revived the Spurs’ fading dynasty” by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. The NBA’s best reporter always nails the Spurs, and this Finals feature on Kawhi — published the same day as the next piece on this list, during the NBA Finals — is no exception.
“The Reinvention of Chris Bosh” by Tom Haberstroh, ESPN.com. A wonderful look into the oft-criticized big man and how he learned to deal with the people who hated him. Also, it opens with a scene featuring a chihuahua in a pink dress, so …
“Adam Silver is His Own Man” by Lee Jenkins, Sports Illustrated. As with Abrams, you could link multiple stories and no one would blink an eye. His timely Silver feature — coming a few months after the commission took over, and in the midst of the Sterling crisis — stands out even among his impossibly good oeuvre. An honorable mention for Jenkins’ piece on Erik Spoelstra from this fall.
“Warriors, Mark Jackson and the Question of Race” by Marcus Thompson III, San Jose Mercury News. This is an excellent example of how powerful a column can be. MT3 deftly brings up a controversial thesis, diffuses kneejerk naysayers and critically analyzes a serious, impactful question.
“Death to Ringz” by Zach Lowe, Grantland. Lowe’s Tuesday column is usually the best thing you’ll read that day, so narrowing this down was difficult. His piece on legacies and championships in the key of Chris Paul was particularly good, though.
“Dirk Nowitzki’s Legendary Journey” by Tim MacMahon, ESPNDallas.com. The oral history of Dirk. Speaks for itself. Marc Stein’s companion piece is required reading, as well.
“Career Arc: Russell Westbrook” by Brian Phillips, Grantland. One of the best sportswriters in the nation, my favorite NBA personality. Match made in heaven.
“Doc’s L.A. Story” by Paul Flannery, SBNation.com. Flannery went to Los Angeles to check in on Doc Rivers and the Clippers, and it was glorious.
“The New Sheriff in Town” by Sarak Kogod, SBNation.com. Kogod’s profile of new players’ union chief Michele Roberts hit every proper note and rounded out a character we’d gotten to know through soundbites. Oh, there are still soundbites, too.
See you Thursday, though in all likelihood a bit later than usual. Taylor Swift is hosting a New Year’s Eve special, after all.
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