Years ago, in what seems now like another lifetime, I was sitting on the steps of my neighbors porch on Thalia Street in New Orleans, eating a plateful of beans and rice, when my neighbor let out a sigh and looked wistfully at some point of nowhere and away, down toward St. Charles. “What’s the matter,” I asked.
“Oh, I don’t know … nothin’ really,” she said, and maybe sighed again (she probably did but, remember, this was so long ago that it may never have happened at all). “I just got a case of the browns.”
I got the feeling she wasn’t talking about the beans and rice. “The browns? What are those?”
“They’re kinda like the blues but, no, not so bad as the blues. They’re, you know, just … the browwnz.”
I haven’t found since better words to describe what the browns are than those: “just … the browwnz.” The browwnz can be difficult to pin down, I do know that. And I’ve also come to know when I’ve got ’em.
I’ve got em now, thanks to an NBA pre-season that has seemed without end, the Bucks not healthy enough to field their starting roster even once. The Bucks aren’t healthy yet, 27 hours before their season opener in the very place where the browwnz were identified — New Orleans. And, no, at last check of the clock, the NBA pre-season hasn’t ended.
The Celtics and Heat tip the 2010-11 season off tonight at 6:35 pm, give or take a minute or two (yes, I’m counting the minutes). I’m expecting Lebron to find KG, Rondo, Ray and #34 just as smart and clutch-and-grab aggressive as they were in dominating last season’s eastern conference playoffs. For now, KG is healthy. NBA fans should know by now, after three seasons in Boston, that (sorry D-Wade and Bosh, and Dwight) a healthy KG is the most valuable asset in the conference.
It’s also worth noting that the Celtics have Lebron’s second most valuable Cavs asset, Delonte West, coming off the bench behind Ray Allen (Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Mr. Cav, being Lebron’s most valuable teammate in Cleveland). The addition of West (loaded guns aside) to play with Ray, Rajon Rondo and Nate “the gnat” Robinson gives the Celtics, hands down, the best guard rotation on the planet. Inside, KG, Jermaine O’Neal and Shaq are more than Bosh and Big Z (and Anthony) can handle, whether the Heat jell or not. If this game is an early season sneak preview of the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, no complaints here, unless the Bucks fail to give one of these top two in the East some playoff hell.
The Bucks and Hornets get going at 7:05 pm Wednesday. Brandon Jennings vs. Chris Paul, CP3 finally healthy after missing half of last season … that’s plenty of fun to watch in a season opener, and Andrew Bogut seems to be doing fine, though he’s not yet in 35-minute playing shape. John Salmons will play — but beyond that, most everything else to do with the Bucks is open to question, given that the rotation hasn’t played together in a game. Hence, the browwnz, and a preseason that has seemed without end.
And I know enough about the browwnz to realize that trying to answer those many Bucks questions now is hubris.
We don’t know how or whether Skiles will be able to manage his wing rotation with Fish, Carlos Delfino, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Corey Maggette all vying for PT. (This just in: Chris Douglas-Roberts is reporting on his twitter that he had eye surgery today and can’t play ball for a month.)
We don’t know whether Maggette can play tough enough D to warrant solid PT. We don’t know whether Drew Gooden, Luc Mbah a Moute (hobbled by an ankle sprain) or Ersan Ilyasova will start at power forward. We don’t whether or not Keyon Dooling will be as effective as Luke Ridnour was backing up Jennings. We’ll have to wait and see.
We do know that this is the first season in ten years that the Bucks will go into the season without Michael Redd in a Bucks uniform. Redd’s nowhere to be found in Bucks camp, and likely will not join his team on the bench in street clothes while GM John Hammond searches for a deal to unload Redd and his ridiculously absurd $18.3 million contract.
And knowing this with the tip-off of the Bucks season 27 hours away, I can feel those NBA pre-season browwnz beginning to clear away.