Welcome to Deadspin’s The Sports Nihilist, where all is for naught, and we are but accidental jolts of electrified meat stuck to the surface of a rock in an indifferent universe.
When I think of bold predictions, I don’t think about journalists risking their careers for the sake of reader entertainment. No, what comes to mind is a bunch of clowns sitting behind a keyboard, and hedging their longshots. “I think player A takes a leap, and coach B will be the first coach fired.”
That’s not a bold prediction; that’s you trying to show off your big brain, but being too scared to say something that’ll shake the apple tree. (Overturn the apple cart? Sorry, I’m getting my cliches mixed up with the plethora of banal bold predictions flying around.)
The key to this exercise is to make as many outlandish claims as possible because they don’t matter as the only people who will hold you accountable are the fans — aka the pettiest people on earth — and most of them move on to the next slight at a moment’s notice anyway.
The time to gamble with your credibility is right before the season starts, and that’s what I aim to do right now. Enjoy!
A slow start and sloppy play forces Joe Mazzulla to take drastic measures, smashing Brown’s right hand with a hammer, and locking him in the team’s facility to recoup with Red on Roundball’s dribbling tutorials projected on the gym wall, on a loop. Brown not only learns how to dribble but also starts shooting left-handed, as well. The Celtics win the title, and Brad Stevens trades Brown the day after the Duck Boat parade.
Simmons will return to form, with the sole intention of amassing an army of devotees in baggy sweaters. Then, in an attempt to cement his name in basketball annals forever, spikes the craft beer at Barclays Center, and fulfills his wish of dying to M-V-P chants without having to shoot the free throws.
When New Yorkers flip on an athlete, rarely does said player redeem themselves — until this year. During a particularly abysmal run of games, and fan ridicule, Randle wigs out, and cleans the concourse with Vinny, Johnny, and Joey’s faces before screaming, bloodthirsty, into the nearest MSG Network camera: “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!”
Then he invites James Dolan down to the court and shanks him in front of 19,000 delirious Knicks fans.
After growing increasingly nervous about Joel Embiid’s happiness amid the ongoing James Harden-Morey standoff, Sixer ownership pulls off the rarely-seen GM swap, and sends Morey to China in exchange for a substantial purchase of J Harden Cab Sav, and enough dollar bills to sustain a billion foreign nationals or 10,000 Houston strippers. Xi Jinping sends Morey to work with the Uyghurs before he’s killed in an uprising.
An extensive investigation by the league office uncovers a never-before-seen doping scandal after several Toronto players grow Raptor talons. The NBA ultimately dismisses Ujiri — known for being ahead of the curve on player development — after discovering that he’s been pumping Pascal Siakam full of black market dinosaur DNA, and also strips the team of its NBA title, because the indigo hue to Kawhi Leonard’s tongue wasn’t Cool Blue Gatorade but rather a genetic mutation.
Basketball fans who thought Green accosting Jordan Poole was a one-off learn it’s an actual team ritual started by Steve Kerr. The coach was famously punched in the face by Michael Jordan, and now lets the Warriors’ three core stars throw a couple of jabs at the role players during each training camp to set the hierarchy.
Unfortunately, Golden State coaches now have to separate Steph Curry, and Klay Thompson from the herd until Green gets his fill, because the Michigan State product saw red/dollar signs a couple seasons ago, and five Dubs had to drag him off Steph.
The new anti-load management rules force Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to play regularly and have the Clippers sitting in the one seed heading into April before a dry run in the Intuit Dome turns catastrophic. The entire team is sidelined with a temporary loss of hearing during a test of the much-ballyhooed Wall of Sound, the Clippers lose to the play-in Pelicans in the first round, and the curse continues.
Following a spectacular breakaway dunk, James comes up a little hobbled, but visibly searching for something when Tony Brothers picks up the detached sole of the King’s Nike. Amid the fallout, James contends that he only uses corked shoes during warmups, and grabbed the pair by accident.
While Adam Silver never hands down a formal punishment, members of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame shadow ban the league’s all-time leading scorer indefinitely.
The Suns star and future Hall of Famer discovers that not everyone will put up with his sh*t, and KD ends up on the wrong end of a beatdown after insulting the Suns in Four Guy at a bar in downtown Scottsdale following a hard-fought playoff loss to Denver.
Unbeknownst to the general public, Suns in Four Guy has real anger issues, and grabs Durant by the backpack strap before delivering a couple sucker punches to the forward’s right eye.
The Kings’ location finally pays off as the only inland NBA franchise in California remains intact following a series of fissures that cast LA and San Francisco to the bottom of the Pacific. Owner Vivek Ranadivé’s attempt to rally the state’s population behind De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, and the Beam goes unheeded as Californians opt for a watery grave rather than relocate to Sacramento.
Capitalizing on the superstitious nature of Chicagoans who keep complaining about the directionless franchise, Reinsdorf hires a PR firm to conjure up a fake grassroots campaign about how the team has been cursed since Michael Jordan retired. The firm alleges specters are the reason why the knees of Chicago point guards keep imploding, and are evidence that spending money on free agents is a pointless venture.
Bonus prediction: Bulls game called off after Seance Night at the United Center hospitalizes 79 people with smoke inhalation.
The Cleveland Cavaliers finish with the best record in the East not because they’re better than Boston or Milwaukee, but rather due to an oversight by an overzealous schedule maker who accidentally gave the Bucks, and Celtics nine additional games following the frenzy of recent All-Star acquisitions. The lack of attention leads Donovan Mitchell, the marquee name traded to the East last offseason, to reignite his dissatisfaction, resulting in a trade request to a Knicks team 15 games below .500 despite the Cavs being four wins shy of home-court two weeks prior to the All-Star break.
In an attempt to revive a dormant fan base, the Pistons decide to throw a Malice at the Palace Night in honor of the incident’s 19-year anniversary. With the Detroit crowd in a fervor, and Cunningham trying to solidify his role as resident alpha dog, the budding franchise cornerstone earns a lifetime ban, and a life sentence after celebrating a dunk over Myles Turner by ripping out Halliburton’s still-beating heart through his Pacers’ jersey.
Repeated run-ins with his team — and a nasty incident in Detroit — make the coach alter his approach, and take up pacifism. No more rigid offensive sets, or mood-ruining arguments. Breathing exercises, and gradual compartmentalization lead to success on the court, but a Carlisle breakdown off of it. Larry Bird then takes the reins, and has to reteach the entire roster what a microaggression is.
Lillard’s second career as a recording artist takes a turn to the twang as he and new teammate Giannis Antetokuonmpo collaborate on a song so miserable it sets back not only the country music industry, but also team chemistry. In the same vein as Russell Wilson and “Let’s ride,” Bucks fans complain about Lillard’s new persona “Dame Saloon” until he has to drop it altogether, but neither he nor Giannis are able to escape the bedazzled Western attire they donned for the album art.
After perfecting the sport of basketball, Jokic sets his sights on American horse racing, and Bob Baffert. Seeking to become the unquestioned titan of all things horse racing, Jokic, and his brothers embark on a smear campaign of the competition. Uninformed about how litigious his adversary can be, the rivalry spills into the courts, and Jokic threatens to go “Full Eastern Promises” on Baffert’s entire family.
Fed up by Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns’ constant bickering, and the franchise’s unwillingness to trade any of the trio, Ant pursues the sweet release of death by moonlighting as a daredevil. Inspired by Duke Caboom’s halftime performance during the Jaguars-Falcons Toy Story broadcast, the guard gives an ultimatum to ownership: Let me jump this dirtbike over seven school buses at every home game, or trade me.
Looking to become the first GM ever with control of an entire NBA draft, the Thunder exec trades his two best players, and completes the feat of owning every pick in the 2029 NBA Draft. When asked what he’s going to do now that he helped end prohibition, Presti proclaims, “I think I’ll have a drink.”
The state’s approach to controlled substances, combined with a fan base reeling over the loss of Damian Lillard, turns the Moda Center into the country’s largest methadone clinic. Seeking to retain control of the team, but without the coffers of her brother, Jody Allen capitalizes on the opportunity, and strikes a deal for the arena’s naming rights with whoever provides methadone to opioid addicts.
After multiple complaints that some contemporary music is as suitable for NBA games as Jock Jams, the Delta Center finally relents, and queues more than Tag Team’s “Whoomp! (There It Is),” and Reel 2 Real’s “I Like To Move It (Move It)”. Among the new tracks in rotation are Imagine Dragons’ “Believer,” and their controversial new single “Monogamy Is Not For Me (Or She)”.
There’s no bolder prediction than predicting that a player — who’s been aesthetically compared to Tootsie Pop covered in hair — will become a sex symbol. Watch out, women of Atlanta, because Ice Trae is here to soothe you with a few slow jams, and that buttery jump shot. From the windowwwww to Trae Young’s basketballs, all these — sorry I just can’t.
Now that his Airness no longer owns a majority share of his hometown team, he can be as cavalier with his stake as he’d like. Anytime a fellow degenerate gambler reraises, Jordan can now flop his share of the NBA franchise on the table like he does the keys to his Rolls. However, in this case, it backfires as LIV-funded Phil Mickelson calls with the help of MBS, leading to the first of many hostile NBA takeovers by the Saudi Public Investment Fund.
Thanks a lot, Mike.
Assuming NBA teams are as gullible as Big Head coffee drinkers, the Heat forward’s entrepreneurialism expands to the undefinable. Similar to Michael Jordan’s placebic Secret Stuff in Space Jam, there’s no shortage of dumbass front office execs lining up to buy Heat Culture by the case. Never mind that it’s just sunscreen- and STD-laden ocean water scooped up on the shore of South Beach, the health benefits are immediate, and long-lasting.
Upset with plummeting profit margins, and a lack of creativity by the current CEO, Disney head man Bob Iger throws his weight and influence around to keep Paola Banchero, and Franz Wagner from going the way of Secret Invasion. Having those two headline a botched project is akin to lining up Samuel L. Jackson and Emilia Clarke for a series that this Marvel fan described as “Dead to me.”
Following weeks of Wizards supporters showing up to Capital One Arena in Bradley Beal jerseys and confused as to why their star is in Phoenix, how he got there, and when, Ted Leonsis realizes he vastly underestimated the long-term effect Beal had on Chocolate City. This provokes a mental health awareness campaign on the risk that extended captivity poses to hostages, and the dangers of retaining homegrown stars.
Thankfully, the path back from Stockholm Syndrome doesn’t include a vaccine, so the Wiz owner doesn’t have to worry about Beal’s influence negating treatment.
In response to investors’ fears over an upcoming documentary about the franchise lacking drama, leaked correspondence reveals that the Shark Tank judge actively knew Irving would piss off Luka Doncic, and traded for the mercurial point guard with the intention of triggering the team’s superstar.
Will that lead to the dissolution of this iteration of Mavericks’ basketball? Subscribe to Paramount+, or NBA League Pass to find out!
Increased expectations and accountability brought by new coach Ime Udoka leads the third-year guard to request a demotion back to the G League Ignite, and to a time before winning mattered. Green’s candor peaks when he tells reporters, “Life is simpler when I can just shoot jumpers, and not worry about defense.”
Serious self-reflection, and isolation during Morant’s 25-game suspension for possession of a deadly weapon with intent to distribute self-incriminating footage leads the 24-year-old to take up the cloth and a new hobby spreading the word of God. Gone are the days of Shotgun Willies, and joy riding with loaded handguns as they’ve been replaced with the gospel, and a variety of uplifting hymns.
Bless Ja, Father, and give him the strength to avoid the devil’s temptations, and the will to overcome the hardships of trying to dunk on every 7-footer in the league.
Occasionally, you just have to let a growing boy get it out of his system, and hope the stimulation doesn’t result in a sex addiction. In one of the most misguided attempts to refocus a franchise star, Pelicans’ brass sends Zion on a fornication vacation with the thought that this is just a phase, and his personal life will work itself out once he becomes a father (if he’s not already).
Happy f*cking, Zion!
The French have a saying: Insult my person, and I am not offended, but insult my wine, and I’ll start a war. Did you know Napoleon’s military conquests weren’t about small man’s syndrome at all? As a matter of fact, Ridley Scott’s new biopic starring Joaquin Phoenix as the titular general reveals grapes were his motivation, because if the entire world was French, there would be no swill.
However, seeing as Vic is 7-foot-4, he doesn’t need the spoils of victory to compensate for anything, nor is he obligated to toe the country credo on wine. Add in Gregg Popovich’s military background, and appreciation of (aspects of) America, and we’ve got the unlikeliest of converts before he even reaches legal drinking age.