Oh, March. The dog days of the NBA season. The All-Star Game has passed, the Playoffs are still a month away. Bad teams have quit, good teams are just jostling for Playoff seeds. Sixty games into an interminable season, players desperately seek ways to keep things interesting. One time in March of ’93, to break the monotony, Michael Jordan played an entire game in Washington with his eyes closed. Scored 47 points.
It was with this lack of spirit, this March malaise, that the Denver Nuggets arrived in Minnesota to take on the Wolves. The bus ride to the arena was quiet, players trapped in their separate Beats By Dre bubbles. Carmelo Anthony dozed. Chauncey Billups daydreamed of the bacon-wrapped shrimp at Murray’s. Chris Andersen plotted his next tattoo. Arron Afflalo took a photo of Melo sleeping and posted it on Twitter.
Alone toward the back, JR Smith was glued to his laptop, watching footage of the ’94 Slam Dunk Contest, watching his quasi-namesake introduce the world to the East Bay Funk in the very building they were headed for. After a few minutes of this, he quietly closed the computer, a smile crossing his face.
This game wouldn’t be boring at all.