Ben Golliver and Michael Pina open up by entering the culture wars sparked by the Dallas Mavericks’ decision not to play the national anthem before games. Should the anthem be played before sporting events? Why did the NBA intervene to demand that all teams play the anthem? Has the NBA changed course on social issues since the bubble? From there, the guys dive into the growing publicity for LaMelo Ball. Should the Timberwolves and Warriors regret leaving him? Has Ball already changed the identity of the Hornets? Next, Ben and Michael build the field of their dreams for All-Star weekend events like the Dunk Contest, Three-Point Contest, and Skills Challenge using only projected All-Stars before reflecting on what the game would look like. Elementary school “Field Day” if NBA players were involved. They end with a discussion about the Dallas Mavericks, who have finally won again, and the Atlanta Hawks, whose defense has notably improved with Clint Capela.
The following transcript is an excerpt from The Open Floor Podcast. Listen to the full episode on podcast players everywhere or in SI.com.
Michael Pina: LaMelo Ball is clearly special. He’s clearly going to be a perennial All-Star. In his six starts this season, which is Charlotte’s last six games, he is shooting 48 percent from behind the 3-point line on seven attempts per game. And these are not, like, open spots. Many of them are dominated. Many of them are in dispute. He’s really special and he’s so confident in himself. He basically gets to the rim when he wants to, he gets to the free throw line. Not to say anything about the passing, which is truly a must on television. I didn’t expect to see so much of the Charlotte Hornets in my entire life, and now I find myself watching at least two games a week, more or less for him. And before I stop my little spiel here, I want to say – Tom Ziller pointed this out on Twitter, I think – that the real winner in all of this is Charlotte Hornets announcer Eric Collins, play by play. I don’t know if you’ve heard him call a recent LaMelo game, but it’s 10 out of 10 entertainment. I love it, his excitement is my thrill, and it’s a fun experience. And I’m happy for the Charlotte Hornets right now.
Ben Golliver: Bring the Andrés Cantor ‘gooaaaaal’ energy to LaMelo’s experience and understands exactly what fell into his lap and is running with it. And I think more power to him.
As this team improves and takes LaMelo as their main identity, and I think that’s looming, I think you’re right about that, he will pretty much be the face of that franchise going forward. opportunity for a lot of excitement. His voice, play by play, is capturing it all. And for a fan base in need, by the way. There really hasn’t been much to cheer for, for that Hornets franchise, or reasons to tune in as you’re mentioning. And it completely changed it in the span of basically a month and a half.
In one part of John’s email that I really agree with, it’s this idea that maybe Tyrese Halliburton is Rookie of the Year that first quarter, and that’s the one I pick. But I think LaMelo, now that he’s in that starting role, now that he’s really spreading his wings, he’s getting used to it, settling in, people are working around him and he’s getting comfortable, I think he will. be the runaway winner here. I think John is onto something. It will be very difficult to stop the excitement and buzz that will build up while you continue to play great minutes. I think people are slowly realizing like you, Michael. Wait a minute, we have to rethink everything we knew about the Charlotte Hornets. These guys are a different franchise. So that’s not easy to do, that’s exactly what you’re trying to get out of a top three pick. That’s why he was arguing that the Chicago Bulls should go out and take LaMelo, because they just had those problems at point guard. And I know Coby White is throwing basketball well and everything else, but I’d rather have the LaMelo Ball experience than the Coby White experience. That is a pretty easy decision.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.