By Sam Rubenstein

The ancient philosopher Bill Parcells once said “You are what your record says you are.” In honor of his team’s soul crushing loss yesterday, I mention his name in this Dirty 30. However, it’s too early in the NBA season to follow that particular train of thought. Philly and Utah are undefeated. Dallas is winless. This is going to be messy. Who you beat matters more than your record at this point. I guess. I’m trying to make sense out of teams playing 2, 3, or 4 games.

What separates The Dirty 30 from your fancy espn, si, sportsline, or Courtside Times pythagorean mathenomics, is that The Dirty 30 is a work of ART! ART I said! Does Marc Stein or Marty Burns paint a mosaic that you can print out and hang on your wall to show off at parties? No they do not. (At least not to my knowledge. They could probably pay someone to do that for them if they so chose). You’re not supposed to explain art, it’s supposed to be up to the viewer to interpret and appreciate it for themselves and find their own meaning. Then again, many arteests feel the need to self indulge and overexplain their precious works. I will choose that route. Since only 3 or 4 games have been played by most teams, it’s still too early to have a real idea of whether they are what we thought they were. For example, the Lakers have a better record than the Suns and they’ve beaten the Suns head to head. Does that mean that L.A. is better than Phoenix? I say no.

This is how you can read the mosaic: On the left side is the West, on the right is the East, much like a map of U,S, and A. Read each side left to right, so the West goes 1. SAN 2. LA CLIPS 3. DALLAS 4. SUNS, and so on. Trust me on this. You’ll be able to see not only rankings, but tiers of three. Either that or I’ll decide I’m putting in waaaaay too much work on this. Here check it out:


And for the reasoning and a more traditional order if you need it:
1. San Antonio (2-1) Got their revenge in Dallas, probably relaxed and lost to the Cavs at home, then came back to handle the Raptors in Toronto with ease. They’re the Spurs. A machine.

2. LA Clippers (2-1) They’ve split with Phoenix, with each team winning on its home floor. Just as scripted. Their otehr win was over Denver the night that Carmelo was T’d up and tossed for next to nothing, a huge gift to the Clippers. They have that same hungry look coming off last season, which is a good sign.

3. Dallas (0-2) The best team in the league without a win. The Spurs got their revenge and Houston hammered them. Got to give them some respect for being who they are though. They should beat up on Golden State tonight to get in the W column and then have a back to back Wednesday and Thursday at the Clippers and at Phoenix.

4. Cleveland (2-1) Big national TV win against Gilbert and the Wizards followed up by an even bigger win in San Antonio, which led to the letdown at Charlotte. Winning in San Antonio is pretty huge for their growth though.

5. Phoenix (1-3) The Laker game was freakish, but they responded against the Clips in Phoenix. Losing to the Jazz was bad, but they’ve got a good early season test this week. At San Antonio on Wednesday and vs. Dallas on Thursday. That is tough scheduling.

6. Chicago (1-2) Still enjoying the buzz from their opening night destruction of the champs? The Bulls lost a close one to the Kings with a sloppy turnover at the end after going half speed against Orlando. Let’s see them in a biggish game again, like let’s say this Thursday at Cleveland.

7. Miami (1-2) Embarrased opening night by Chicago, came back strong against the Nets, Shaq sat and they lost to Philly. They’ve admitted they don’t want to waste energy by going all out until they have to. It worked last year.

8. Detroit (2-1) Rip Hamilton has been their leading scorer every game so far. What happened to that every night it’s a different hero thing? They’re undefeated in games that Rasheed doesn’t get kicked out of, but those wins were against Boston and Memphis.

9. Utah (3-0) The Jazz are scoring 107 ppg, goign up against Houston, Phoenix, and Golden State. It took a few years but the Kirilenko and Boozer frontcourt might finally be here for real.

10. New Orleans (3-0) Wins over Boston, Indiana, and Houston. Coming up is a home and home with Golden State then a game against Portland. Things are going very well in the N.O. on the basketball court and football field

11. Houston (1-2) They absolutley ripped the Mavericks to shreds with a strong performance from Yao and T-Mac doesn’t have it all going yet. That counts for something. Their schedule is kind of soft this week until they have a Sunday night game at Miami.

12. Washington (1-1) Gilbert had an off-scoring night and they lost to Cleveland, though they were in that game until the end. Gilbert scored 44 and they beat the Celtics easily. Can I say too early again? Too early.

13. New Jersey (1-1) Only played two games, an easy win over Toronto and a loss to Miami coming off the Heat season opening disaster. Need to see more. Rematch with Miami this Friday.

14. LA Lakers (3-1) Opening night was a shocker, coming back on the Suns with no Kobe. Other than that the Lakers have split with the Sonics and beat Golden State.

15. Philly (3-0) They’ve beaten Atlanta, Orlando, and Miami without Shaq. You play who’s on the schedule, but what do we really know about how good or bad this team is?

16. Milwaukee (2-1) Won at Detroit, beat Sacramento, with a loss at Toronto sandwiched in there. Bogut came back from injury alot earlier than anyone thought and he’s been playing pretty well.

17. Minnesota (2-1) If it wasn’t for a Juan Dixon shot, they might be 3-0, with a big win over Denver the key so far. Still early, but KG might have found some guys he can play with.

18. Denver (0-2) Their two losses have been in a game where Melo wasn’t around to take the last shot against the Clippers and a game when he missed that big shot a few times. They play nothign but the East through November 21st. So, expect them to get hot.

19. Indiana (2-1) Won in Charlotte, won in New York. Two road victories that I give them no added respect for. They lost to New Orleans, as they probably should.

20. Sacramento (1-2) A tough, hard fought win with Kevin Martin going off and hitting the big shot in Chicago. Other than that, losses to Minnesota and Milwaukee on the road. The Kings have their home opener tonight against Minny. Revenge.

21. Atlanta (2-1) They lost to Philly, then blew out the Knicks and Magic. Feasting on the downtrodden perhaps, but first place is first place. Super early trend: 2-0 when Joe Johnson scores 30, 0-1 when he doesn’t.

22. Toronto (1-2) They beat Milwaukee for their only win and lost to teams you’d figure are their superiors with Jersey and San Antonio. Chris Bosh looks like he’s serious about taking his game to the level of his contract. He beasted in their loss to the Spurs.

23. Portland (2-1) Getting off to a great start, with an opening night win over Seattle, a loss at Golden State, and then the Juan Dixon shot beat Minnesota. Not the hardest opening week you’ve ever seen, but they’ll take it.

24. Seattle (1-2) They really needed that offensive outburst with all the three pointers against the Lakers. 0-3 would have been bad with the team possibly leaving. The defense hasn’t been anything like the word “good.”

25. Orlando (1-2) Their only win was when they caught Chicago napping. They followed it with losses to Philly and Atlanta. Washington comes to Orlando tonight. Should be high scoring, hence fun.

26. Charlotte (1-2) Looked like they still might be a league doormat losing to Indy and Memphis, but they got the Cavs possibly taking them lightly and they played great defense on LeBron.

27. Golden State (1-2) The Warriors got to play Portland and it’s a good thing they won that game cause tonight Nellie makes his return to Dallas. The Mavs are winless. They are going to take their frustrations out on their ex-coach’s team.

28. New York (1-2) The season opening triple OT thriller might end up being as good as it will get for them. Two blowout losses followed, and this was to Atlanta and Indy. Fans are booing. If they weren’t in the media capital of the world nobody would write about them.

29. Boston (0-3) Well, at least Wally seems to be healthy. Losses to New Orleans, Detroit, and Washington to start the year. They need to turn it around against Charlotte on Wednesday.

30. Memphis (1-2) Took advantage of playing Charlotte for their win, showed a lot of heart in their triple OT loss to the Knicks, and Detroit is just better than them.