NBA rushes to put unfinished product out by Christmas


If it seems like just yesterday that the NBA was locked out, you aren't that far off.

The truth is - as we're all aware - the NBA really, really wanted to play on Christmas. That seemed to be the goal from the get-go, right? I mean, heck, they didn't have a serious meeting all summer. But as long as they could play on Christmas everything would be OK in NBA land.

Except it's not. It's borderline mayhem right now. It's Wall Street minutes before the final bell (for the adults) and it's Christmas Eve up in the North Pole (for the kids). Players don't know if they're coming or going - literally. "Training camp" starts with half a roster. And yet, coaches are supposed to put together players who have yet to play a scrimmage as a team and expect to win in under two weeks.

"I think what you see, we're in a rushed league right now," Kevin Garnett said. "Everybody is paying attention to the Chris Paul situation. I don't know why everybody is shocked. Stern has been pretty adamant about when he wants to do things and how he does things.

"Timing is everything and chemistry is something that you just don't throw in the frying pan and mix it up with another something and throw something on top of that and then fry it up, put it in a tortilla, put it in the microwave, heat it up and give it to you and expect it to taste good."

But the NBA doesn't seem to care if it tastes good - as long as you'll buy it.

And you wonder why these NBA lockouts are so harsh. The NFL came to terms before any damage was done. And you probably didn't even know that MLB settled their own new collective bargaining agreement recently with no issues. The relationships are better between players and owners in those leagues.

Celtics guard and workout guru Ray Allen shared Garnett's thoughts.

"I feel very rushed," he said. "I can't say that I've been particularly happy with the way things have transpired over the last two or three weeks but I think everybody is in the situation where we just have to do the best with what we have.

"We have to adjust to the situation at hand. It's a challenge for all of us and we're all going through it. So there's nothing more you can do about it but prepare yourself physically and mentally."

Hindsight is 20-20 of course, as Paul Pierce notes.

"Yeah we talked about [feeling rushed]," Pierce said. "This is something that could have been avoided. Especially you see the different trades that are going through, falling through and the disorganization of rosters at this point. There probably should have been a period where you had a free agent signing period, then training camp.

"I just think that the Christmas date was something that was really pushed amongst the players as a key date and that's why we've been rushed the way we've been rushed."

So the players will complain about it, and so will coaches I'm sure. Some owners will care, some will pretend to care, and Dan GIlbert will find a way to ruin something else. But the bottom line is when the NBA season starts on Christmas day, the product won't be anywhere near what it could have been. What it could have been if this mess never happened or what it could have been if it was cleaned up properly.

"The game plan is getting ready for the first game and doing whatever we need to do. I think everyone is in the same boat there. I don't think anybody is not concerned by it. I'm not that concerned by it. We're not going to be great as far as timing. No one will be. But we have to win games.

"We can't worry about the schedule, we can't worry about the amount of games. I told our guys yesterday there's 124 days starting on the first game to the end of the season. There's 66 games in that 124 days, and that's the breaks. Everybody's got to do it and you got to deal with it. And that's how it is and no one is going to feel sorry for anyone. I do feel the mental toughness part of this, you just have to play through it.

Perhaps Garnett put it best when wrapping up his feelings towards the current NBA situation.

"I'm going to use Doc Rivers' saying here, and I hate this saying, but you got to get past mad. Come in and do your job. Understand what this is. And that's what everybody is doing."

Some of us are way past mad.

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