From playoff collapses to overzealous owners to emoji wars, we recap the NBA's craziest moments of 2015.
There was plenty of good and bad in 2015, but there was also a lot of weird. Excluding off-the-court mishaps and events outside of basketball, we're here to run it back and recap the craziest moments of 2015. From playoff collapses to overzealous owners to emoji wars, here's what stuck out in the strangest ways in 2015.
Knicks fans boo Porzingis on draft night
Knicks fans booing anyone isn't crazy at first glance. New York's fans have booed just about every draft pick for the last two decades. No, what’s crazy here is how quickly Porzingis endeared himself to Knicks diehards, so much so that fans are actually hopeful for the first time in many, many years. Porzingis has flashed an impressive game, and not just for a rookie. He seems like the first legitimate building block for Phil Jackson, and could be the longtime face of this team in a post-Carmelo world. A young, promising Knicks team that seems set up for future success? Yeah, that’s crazy. – Rohan Nadkarni
The DeAndre Jordan saga
✈️— Chandler Parsons (@ChandlerParsons) July 8, 2015
🚙— JJ Redick (@JJRedick) July 8, 2015
✈️🚁🚙— Blake Griffin (@blakegriffin32) July 8, 2015
By now you probably know enough to retell the essence of this story in emoji form. DeAndre Jordan flip-flopped from the Mavericks back to the Clippers, spurning a seemingly irresistible Chandler Parsons. As Jordan’s teammates descended on his Houston home to hang out until he signed his contract, eat fried chicken and make him feel wanted, the public grew convinced Doc Rivers was holding the center hostage...in his own living room. It was a 24-hour storm of stranger-than-fiction type news and ended with DeAndre breaking typical free agent honor code and spurning Mark Cuban and Dallas. Cuban’s continually salty behavior the past several months has only grown the legend. – Jeremy Woo
The Kelly Olynyk fallout
As good as the Warriors were in the playoffs, the hobbled condition of their Finals opponent cast a slight shadow over their title run. The Cavs’ Big Three was reduced to a Big LeBron after Kelly Olynyk had his way with Kevin Love’s shoulder. The injury itself sparked debate and frustration, but what came after it sent oddly deep ripples around the league. Losing Love put added pressure on Kyrie Irving in those playoffs, who tried to play through a bum knee but wound up unable to go in the later rounds, creating a Finals matchup against the Warriors that would tax LeBron and force David Blatt to trot out a newfangled rotation. From Love and Irving’s injuries came the unexpected, hot-button playoff relevance of Matthew Dellavedova, who’s now a critical Cavs rotation player, and major performances from Tristan Thompson, who would likely have never cashed out at near-max value in free agency without that postseason stage. If Cleveland never makes these forced changes and hits the Finals at full strength, it’s possible that we never see the Warriors slide Andre Iguodala into the starting lineup, move Draymond Green to center, and dominate not just the Finals, but the start of the current season by playing largely-unstoppable small ball. The landscape of the league was ostensibly altered by Love’s injury, and who knows? Maybe if the big man had played in the Finals and struggled, he would have bolted instead of re-signing with the Cavs. Somewhere, a butterfly flaps its wings. – J.W.
Rondo goes off on Bill Kennedy
Rajon Rondo’s suspension for using a homophobic slur against referee Bill Kennedy was a black mark for a league normally known as the most progressive. Commissioner Adam Silver handled the incident the best he could, but it’s unclear where the NBA goes from here. Legislating language on the court can be tricky—does it only matter when directed at officials and fans? Rondo, Kobe Bryant and Joakim Noah have all been caught using the same slur the last few seasons, a pretty surprising group to be using such a loaded word. The incident has since mostly blown over, which is concerning in its own way. The silver lining here was Kennedy feeling comfortable enough to come out, and perhaps in the wake of this entire mess the league became even more inclusive, which is undoubtedly a positive. – R.N.
The collapse of the Clippers
The Clippers teased us by knocking off the vaunted Spurs in the first round of the playoffs, as Chris Paul drained the biggest shot of his life over an outstretched Tim Duncan to bury a team that everyone favored. They proceeded to blow a 3–1 series lead against the Rockets with three straight double-digit losses and lethargic play. The Clippers not only deprived us of a potential Spurs–Warriors series, but also ended any chance at a Clippers–Warriors Western Conference finals, which would have been far more entertaining, at minimum, than watching Golden State go to town on Houston. In a strange plot twist, both the Clippers and Rockets have since become strange shells of the teams we saw in those playoffs, with major flaws exposed for the rest of the league to see. This, of course, was surely just karmic blowback for Doc Rivers continuing America’s time-honored tradition of nepotism. – J.W.
Almost every single jersey redesign
There are too many jerseys in the NBA now. Between Latin nights, Christmas games, St. Patrick’s Day games, sleeved uniforms, throwbacks and everything in between, it’s become rare if a team wears its normal uniform on game night. Enough. It needs to stop. The Hawks neon green uniforms? Nah. The Heat’s military uniforms? Dear God, no. Any Lakers or Celtics jerseys straying from their classic looks? Why? Okay, fine, the new Christmas uniforms can stay. But otherwise, the league really needs to tighten up here. – R.N.
Joe Lacob's weird Larry O'Brien story
Sure, it’s nice to win a title. Sure, hockey players do weird stuff with the Stanley Cup every year. But no, that doesn’t mean Joe Lacob really needed to tell us the story about the Larry O'Brien trophy, his wife and their bed. “Leave it to the imagination,” he said. Sure, he cuts the checks, but he wasn’t out there trying to guard LeBron, Stephen Curry is still royally underpaid, and this could have been kept behind closed doors. Figuratively speaking. – J.W.
Retirement-ready Kobe attempts 17 three-pointers
Until a very recent stretch of not-completely-terrible play, Kobe Bryant‘s chuckery to start his final season was unbelievable. Emboldened by an incredible number of misses, Bryant refused to stop shooting. This video of Kobe bricking three after three (above) should be used as leverage for any team signing a shooting guard over the age of 30. “Oh, you think you’ll hold up for four more years? If this can happen to Kobe, why couldn’t it happen to you?” – R.N.
The entire Kings inferno
2015 in Sacramento has been bizarre, confounding, depressing and intriguing, sometimes all at once. Drake hung out on the sidelines, Vlade Divac was installed by Vivek Ranadive to lead the brain trust, DeMarcus Cousins and George Karl argued and argued some more. The off-season spending spree centered around luring Wesley Matthews netted Marco Belinelli, Rajon Rondo and Kosta Koufos instead. Not that many games have been won, and in the just first month of the season, the locker room appeared ready to fall apart. It’s been pretty much impossible to trace lines of logic through the Kings’ decision-making at times, and the funny thing is after all that’s happened, they’re still right in the thick of the race for the eighth playoff seed. The overall watering-down of the Western Conference has been perhaps the team’s biggest stroke of luck—there’s talent on the roster, and it does seem like things could be starting to stabilize. It’s all still just wishful thinking until they get results, and until then, it’ll always feel like a John Calipari regime could be right around the corner. - JW
'Form a f------ wall'
Stan Van Gundy has already shown he’s not afraid to speak his mind. This is the same coach who said he knew his star player wanted him fired, then allowed that player, Dwight Howard, to answer questions immediately after the comment. So when Stan Van Gundy wants his team to play defense during a critical possession in a close game, he’s going to put it in the exact, blunt terms necessary to get his point across. This is less crazy as much as it is f------ awesome. – R.N.