The Dirty 30

By Sam Rubenstein

I don’t mind doing the quick posting of anything that pops off, but it’s time for me to write an extended piece that is hundreds of thousands of words long, and is so bulky you’re not allowed to check it out from the library. If you’ve been coming to slamonline since the old html days, you might be familiar with something I wrote consistently two years ago and sporadically last year, called The Dirty 30. There are 30 NBA teams, and the most slept on classic East Coast rap album of all-time is Da Dirty 30 by CRU. Usually I write these in power rankings format, and that will return once the season and games do.

For now, here are my best case and worst case scenarios for each team. Since this is going to be longer than the typical stuff I’ve been writing lately, I will give every team a best of times and worst of times writeup, in honor of the opening line of “A Tale of Two Cities”, one of the benchmarks for incredibly long pieces of literature. Also this is a tribute to the city of New York’s baseball teams. Mets = best of times. Yankees = worst. Obviously the worst case scenario for most NBA teams is that a key player gets injured. I’ll try to stay away from that, unless the situation absolutely screams out for it. Alright, let’s get… dirty.

Best of times: Josh Smith and Marvin Williams put it all together and become the most electric pairing of young gunners in the game. Joe Johnson leads the way with his all-around play, making the All-Star team. The Hawks are the most exciting team in the East and make their glorious return to the playoffs as people start going to Hawks games and watching them on TV again.
Worst of times: Atlanta is ready to challenge for a playoff spot, and have the perfect trade lined up at the deadline. But, they are unable to cut through the red tape and fill out the proper paperwork to make that trade a reality. No playoffs. No excitement. Steve Belkin finds a hundred dollar bill in the street and buys out all of the owners and the team becomes his and his alone. Lang shakes his head, throws up his hands in frustration, and the world keeps on turning.

Best of times: Allan Ray and Bassy make a smooth transition and become major pieces of the deepest young team in the game. Paul Pierce has another monster season, providing leadership along the way. A slim and trim Al Jefferson becomes one of the better power players in the East. Doc Rivers celebrates by forcing his team to make a cheesy video that will live forever on the internet, if the internet still exists in 20 years.
Worst of times: Bassy is pure hype with no substance and the fans turn on him. The collection of promising youth and their sonic Aingebrain waves is a failed experiment, and the Celtics become the first team in sports history that has to begin the rebuilding process by getting older and more expensive. Pierce is moved in a blockbuster that brings Zach Randolph and Darius Miles to Boston. Every Celtics fan age 50 and older have a heart attack at the exact same instant. The incident is referred to as “The Boston Massacre. No, the real one when people died.”

Best of times: Emeka Okafor is healthy and one of the best bigs in the East. Felton blossoms into one of the top young PGs in the east, they play great D as a team and Adam Morrison is their crunch time scorer, running away with the ROY. The Bobcats challenge for a playoff spot and Gerald Wallace is defensive player of the year.
Worst of times: GM Michael Jordan sees a team that has lots of youth and promise, which was assembled without any of his help. MJ needs to make his mark and prove to the world and himself that he is the best executive in history and everyone else is weak. He tinkers and tinkers with the team, and trades Sean May for Kwame Brown just to make the point that Kwame can play. Charles Oakley spends one practice working with Morrison on his boxing out, and he accidentally ends his young career with a well-placed hip check. Adam cries. Oak laughs.

Best of times: Big Ben and Tyrus Thomas block every single shot their opponents attempt this year. Kirk Hinrich runs the show with cold blooded efficiency, Ben Gordon hits every big shot, Nocioni and Deng do it all, the Bulls play bullyball and intimidate their way to the championship.
Worst of times: After winning games by scores like 65-55 for the first few months, Scott Skiles is called to the league office. An understanding is reached in that meeting and suddenly the Bulls start playing up tempo and start losing. Big Ben stops playing hard now that he has the humungous contract. Chicago still finds a way to get abused in the post at playoff time.

Best of times: LeBron takes his game to the next level… again. Every fantasy basketball team with LeBron on it automatically wins their league. Bron carries the Cavs to the championship with the worst supporting cast of any champion. Business is booming as NBA joins the DOW and NASDAQ on the ticker that appears on all of those insane market watch shows.
Worst of times: The supporting cast doesn’t do their job. LeBron tries to make them better but it’s too hard. He decides to refocus on his billions of dollars and millions of businesses and gets stuck in the McGrady or KG zone, where playoff victories are few and far between. SLAM Editor-in-Chief Ryan Jones sheds a tear, which is not a good look for a grown man with a child.

Best of times: Mavs use the lessons they learned last year and go all the way. Mark Cuban stops talking about the refs and the Mavs don’t feel that wrath of Stern. Dirk wins the season MVP and Finals MVP.
Worst of times: Mark Cuban goes too far on one of his blog posts, and Stern starts a hilarious blog of his own called The google/youtube merger becomes the most succesful business partnership of all-time, and google execs use their power to crush Mark Cuban’s empire for hating on them. Cuban loses all of his money and ends up wandering the streets in a bathrobe with an empty carton of milk, cursing at strangers on the street, yelling at them about the man he used to be. He is ignored and spends his last days in an insane asylum.

Best of times: Carmelo makes his first All-Star team, Kenyon Martin heals and rediscovers his game, and the Nuggets finally have an NBA caliber 2 guard in the explosive JR Smith. Nene’s return adds depth and the Nuggets beat up on teams and get a nickname based on the Rocky Mountains. Something like the hard rock Nuggets.
Worst of times: George Karl wears out his welcome and the Nuggets are forced to tag someone interim coach, who isn’t ready for the NBA challenge. Marcus Camby misses another 30 games. There is infighting, and the Nuggets fail to get out of the first round again. The whispers about Carmelo being unable to win a playoff series get louder and louder.

Best of times: Nazr adds offense they’ve been lacking from the center position, they have an even better grasp of Flip’s system and they top last year’s dominant first half, maintaining their intensity through the playoffs. The Pistons have their revenge on the overconfident and cocky Miami Heat.
Worst of times: We find out just how much Ben was covering for others with his shot blocking and hustle. There’s an all-out mutiny against Flip. Someone throws a cup at him during a home game and Flip just takes it with a dull look on his face. They bring back Chuck Daly and Dennis Rodman. Darko becomes a 20-10 with 4 blocks every night in Orlando.

Best of times: Nellie works wonders, and the four headed monster of Baron-Jrich-Dunleavy-Murphy lasts a whole season, fulfilling the promise of what Tim-Spree-Mullin-Webber never could. Yes, Nellie is able to turn L’il Dun into a scorer like Mullin. Maybe that’s the best of the best of the best of times. He also gets Adonal Foyle, Chris Taft, and Zarko to take their games to a place they never knew they had inside themselves. Golden State goes deep in the playoffs.
Worst of times: Baron gets hurt again. Nothing changes. People start realizing that Chris Mullin is a nice guy who is really bad at his job. The Warriors never make the playoffs ever ever ever.

Best of times: MacYao redefines the world as we know it. Battier does battier things, playing off the ball, and Bonzi plays to get paid again. The Rockets combine Van Grumpy toughness with the dynamic performance of their superstars and win the championship in similar fashion to what the Heat did last year.
Worst of times: Mac’s back attacks. Van Gundy micromanages the life out of the team and he is considered the wrong personality type to handle superstars because he’s too coach-y. Jeff can’t stand the time away from his family, so he walks off into the sunset. General Manager Carroll Dawson assumes coaching responsibilities but it’s too late and the Rockets have another disappointing season.

Best of times: Stephen Jackson’s gunz in the air becomes some kind of “Me Against the World” moment, when the team is vilified as the Jailpacers and they use that as motivation to prove they can still play great fundamental team ball. The return of Al Harrington gives them a boost, Marquis Daniels makes them more explosive (scoring and excitement-wise), and Rick Carlisle wins coach of the year.
Worst of times: Suspensions come down, just because. Jermaine O’Neal gets tired of being the only guy in the league who can be classy and intelligent and the type of guy that will give you a running punch to the face at the same time. He demands to be traded and gets his wish. The Pacers unload all of their veterans and give up on the season. Naturally, they make it to the playoffs, but lose in the first round.

Best of times: We’re in the Clipper renaissance. Tim Thomas continues his ressurection on good teams, Sam I am keeps the magic alive. The Clippers complete the transformation to a quality organization that can win year after year. Some day we tell our grandkids that Elgin Baylor was once considered a bad GM and they yell back at us “Get the F outta here!” and we say back “Hey, watch your mouth little man, I’m your old grandpa.”
Worst of times: Last year was a one shot deal, and the phrase Same ‘ol Clippers becomes a part of NBA lore once again. Chris Kaman and Sam Cassell let the competition for “sexiest man alive” tear their friendship apart and the team follows.

Best of times: Kobe and Phil stay on the same page for the whole season, as Kob has his share of 50 and 60 point games when the team is struggling and plays the perfect all-around game when things are going well. Kobe wins the MVP and leads the Lakers back to the top where they belong. He shows emotion at championship ceremony and tears up as he tells the world how much he loves his teammates and the support of his fans. People are not sure what to think of this.
Worst of times: Lamar Odom claims that the Lakers are his team because the big man is always right. He slaps Kobe in the face in a heated team meeting. The Lakers are the only team ever mentioned by the media, and Kobe is villified for being Kobe. Phil Jackson writes another non-fiction best-seller. This one is called “Zen and the Art of Dry Snitching.”

Best of times: The Heat take it easy in the regular season, and do just enough to get a high seed in the playoffs. The playoffs come around, and the same thing happens, this time with Dwyane Wade facing Lebron in a playoff series that sets them up to be yet another Russell-Chamberlain, Montana-Marino, Jeter-8rod relationship. One with rings, one with stats.
Worst of times: Shaq sees no reason to work out or watch his diet, and he ends his career looking like Oliver Miller. He doesn’t last the whole year, Riley burns out, the salty veterans start a mutiny, and Dwyane stops being Mr. perfect as the team tanks.

Best of times: Villanueva and Bogut team up to beast out on the East, Michael Redd plays off them, stroking those threes all season long, and Ruben Patterson helps them on defense. Who needs a point guard to lead the way?!?
Worst of times: The point guard combo of Steve Blake and Mo Williams doesn’t get the job done. Especiallly in the new guard friendly NBA. They have guys that can score but nobody to get them the ball.

Best of times: Mike James gives KG the big-time, late game player he needs to help him, that’s been missing. It rejuvenates Garnett’s game and brings him back to top 5 in the game level, and the T-Wolves grab themselves a high playoff seed once again. They lose a tough series in the first round.
Worst of times: Kevin Garnett finally has enough of this politeness and being the perfect ambassador for the game stuff. He calls out McHale and the subpar performance of his teammates. Ricky Davis, Mike James, Eddie Griffin and injured Rashad McCants take exception and they stomp him out. KG loses trade value.

Best of times: They tread water while Pau recovers, and stay in the mix. Kyle Lowry, Rudy Gay, and Hakim Warrick treat the NBA like it’s the Big East, and come playoff time they have more talent than ever. They push their first round loss to five or even SIX games.
Worst of times: The Grizzlies find a way to survive without Pau, get back to the playoffs and get swept again. No lottery picks in a deep draft.

Best of times: Chris Paul brings the best out of Peja, and Tyson Chandler uses disrespect as a motivation to have his best season. Desmond Mason and David West add scoring and the Hornets are the proverbial team that nobody wants to play come playoff time.
Worst of times: Chris Paul becomes frustrated that he’s the guy who’s running the team and is basically the head coach on the floor while the guy who is paid to coach just stands there with his arms crossed. After a tough playoff loss, Tyson calls out Peja for having no heart.

Best of times: Isiah brings Bad Boys toughness and gets the team to play with aggressiveness, Stephon has a career year under the mentorship of the best winning and scoring PG ever, Steve Francis remembers he’s in the NBA, and all of the pieces finally fit and the Knicks get some bang for their bucks. All the way to the second round of the playoffs.
Worst of times: Isiah loses his lawsuit and the Knicks are forced to pay millions of dollars in damages, causing James Dolan to start bouncing checks, and every one from Jared Jeffries to QRich to Jalen Rose have to sue the team to get their money. New York City gossip tabloid papers the NYPost and the Daily News reach all-time highs in circulation based on the trainwreck appeal of bad news.

Best of times: The rotation gets deeper with Marcus Williams, and the Nets are able to rest Kidd just enough for him to be a force in the playoffs, and Vince attacks the basket when he needs to. Jay-Z’s return from retirement saves New York Hip Hop and the east coast b(i)ased media declares another golden era on its way. Rappers from the other 49 states get day jobs.
Worst of times: Jason Kidd finally runs out of gas, Vince is given the keys to the franchise and he drives it off a cliff. Richard Jefferson has his first pessimistic thought. Jay-Z is too old and boring and his legacy is tainted. Once the Nets move to Brooklyn, Jay’s portion of ownership is forcefully bought out, and he suffers the same indignity that his idol Michael Jordan did with the Wizards. Bruce Ratner reaches Robert Moses and Walter O’Malley levels of hatred from New York City residents.

Best of times: Dwight and Darko form a dominant inside out front line, kind of like the Wallaces used to be in Detroit but with more scoring and size. JJ hits killer threes on the road and becomes the best supervillain in the game since Reggie. Solid PG play from Jameer and Arroyo puts the ball in the right guys’ hands, all the way to the playoffs.
Worst of times: Darko and JJ Redick become drinking buddies and it leads them out of the league. JJ gets a job as Wojo’s assistant coach after Coach K retires. Dwight Howard puts up huge numbers and, tired of the losing, starts asking what he has to do to go to the Lakers. Lakers begin their second era of having the best outside and inside players in the game and the Magic franchise just gives up.

Best of times: The Philly fans treat every game as Allen Iverson appreciation night, even as the team loses by 40. He becomes the Brett Favre of the NBA, though instead of retirement being the daily topic it’s some random trade rumors that will never come true. The Sixers finish with 20 wins and find themselves in great shape for the lottery.
Worst of times: Iverson and Webber put up numbers, but teams score at will against them. Billy King has nowhere to hide and he becomes this year’s national media punching bag a.k.a. Isiah ’06. The Sixers fans get stuck with this team as is for a few more years because nobody is going anywhere, and Iverson is too good to allow them to become a bonafide lottery squad.

Best of times: Darius Miles and Zach Randolph are abducted by aliens, and the NBA gives the Portland franchise a slaray cap exemption. The rebuilding gains momentum as Brandon Roy, Martell Webster, and LaMarcus Aldridge form one of the most promising young nuclei (nucleuses?) in the league.
Worst of times: The NBA discovers that Paul Allen hired those aliens to abduct Zach and Darius and he also built their spaceship. They are stripped of first round draft picks for the next 4 years as a penalty.

Best of times: Amare comes back at something close to 100%, and running with Nash, Marion, Diaw and the rest of them, the Suns win 65 games while scoring 125 ppg and giving up 110 ppg. Basketball is funner than ever and the Suns win the championship. Steve Nash wins his third straight MVP and North and South America are renamed North Canada and Way South Canada.
Worst of times: Steve Nash, Amare, Diaw, Raja, and Marion all get hurt. Leandro Barbosa doesn’t care and he runs Mike D’antoni’s system to perfection with whatever castaways they can find to play with him. Barbosa leads the league in three point shooting and assists and wins the MVP, proving that it’s the system not the player. The Suns get to the playoffs again and lose when they have no post presence.

Best of times: The Kings build on their Ron fueled run from last season and find themselves among the best in the West. Ron wins Defensive player of the year and MVP, and the Kings win the championship. No Maloofs are harmed in the resulting partying.
Worst of times: With the team winning and looking like one of the best in the West, Ron Ron gets bored and starts causing earthquakes with his mind and daring other rappers to shoot him. Sacramento becomes the emerging hotbed of rap music, resulting in rap music as a genre dying its final death. The Kings secure the top seed in the West and Ron retires the day before the payoffs saying that he feels stressed out and has other interests. Kings get swept.

Best of times: The team doesn’t relocate, and fans get so sentimental that their outpouring of love takes the Sonic players to a new high. They resemble the team from two years ago more than the one from last season. They lose a tough second round series to a team that is more physical than them, but they go out showing a lot of fight.
Worst of times: The Sonics get off to a terrible start, the fans get pissed off at management for half heartedly putting a team together and extorting them with the move out of town play, Ray Allen demands a trade and things get ugly.

Best of times: With everyone back healthy, the Spurs do their usual regular season thing and enjoy another championship run. They only compete for the championship in years after they don’t win it, so you can expect another run from Pop and the Kings of Charisma.
Worst of times: The Tim Duncan robot has more mileage on it that we realize, and he’s already begun the downward spiral of his career. Tony and Manu take the reigns, but too many other teams in the West have passed them. They get old just like the Celtics did at the end of the 80’s.

Best of times: T.J. Ford and Chris Bosh become the next Nash and Amare, and the Raptors have the complementary pieces from Mo Pete to Fred Jones to Joey Graham, with Bargnani making an impact. They overachieve beyond everyone’s wildest expectations and bring some excitement to the Eastern playoffs.
Worst of times: With the Raptors playing free and loose, Sam Mitchell doesn’t know how to enjoy the ride and let the good times roll. He starts some drama for old times sake, and they have to find a new coach. Charlie Villanueva has a monster year while T.J. Ford ends up back in the hospital.

Best of times: Jerry Sloan is past his quota of losing, Andrei and Boozer play a full season, and slong witht at weird plan to bring the whole Illinois team to the NBA, the Jazz make their grand return to the playoffs. Seriously, it’s time for Jerry to bring a post-Stockton and Malone group back to that stage.
Worst of times: Things fall apart again, and Jerry calls it quits. No jokes, no speeches. Just respect for that man.

Best of times: Gilbert Arenas is true to his word and scores 100 against Phoenix and leads the league in scoring. He wins the MVP as the Wizards rampage their way through the East having fun along the way.
Worst of times: Etan Thomas goes too far in his dailykos blog and one rainy night after a Wizards win, his car skids and dives off the road into a ditch. The investigation into what happened that night never gets off the ground, and anyone that pokes around to find answers disappears. The team, consumed by sadness, never recovers. Arenas gets busted in an online poker sting set up by the government.