Hidden Subplots of the 2014 NBA Playoffs

Photo: Flickr/Mat Sadler

The Larry O'Brien trophy isn't the only thing driving this year's playoff field. There are deeper driving forces beneath the surface, and Derek has uncovered them all just in time for tip-off.


Guest Post: On backups and basketball reasons


Ed. Note: Evans Clinchy is a Bostonian and active member of the hoops blogosphere. He's in his fifth season covering the Celtics, with his writing appearing on CelticsBlog, NESN, and SI (among other places). You can follow him, his thoughts, and his writing on Twitter. He wrote this piece after watching Jason Collins' debut with the Nets last night.


Snake: An Out-Of-Bounds Play The Brooklyn Nets Ran To Get An Open Three


Since the New Year rolled along, the Brooklyn Nets have been the best team in the NBA. (No, really. They're 10-2). One of the reasons for their new found success has been the ball movement. Unlike earlier in the season when they couldn't buy a bucket, the Nets have been moving the ball around the perimeter with crisp passes, which has led to plenty of good looks each and every night.


World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov Pokes Fun At Brooklyn Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov

Things haven’t quite been going as planned in Brooklyn this season. The Nets are 3-8, just a half-game ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks for the worst record in the Eastern Conference. The aging veterans are looking pretty…aged, Deron Williams can’t seem to get healthy and even Brook Lopez has struggled at times with injuries. The brightest spot — and it’s a bright spot, undoubtedly — has been the continued renaissance of Shaun Livingston. Save for Livingston’s performance, though, it’s been a struggle through 11 games. All in all, things are pretty far from ideal, and owner Mikhail Prokhorov can’t be happy with his team’s early performance.

Plenty of digital ink has been spilled on Brooklyn’s trials so far. And early on Friday morning, one more person threw out their two cents (rubles?) about the situation: World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov, the greatest chess player in human history.* Kasparov was the youngest chess player to win the title of undisputed World Chess Champion in 1985, at 22-years old, but he’s perhaps best known for being the first world champion to be bested by Deep Blue, the chess-playing supercomputer that will undoubtedly rise up against humanity sometime in the next decade to subjugate us to his gaming desires, in 1997. Kasparov retired as a chess player in 2005 in order to concentrate on his writing and on Russian politics, and apparently he’s got a little bit of a bone to pick with Prokhorov.

*It would seem pretty Earth-centric to discount the chances that some extraterrestrial life form in the far reaches of space could best Krasparov; hence, human history.

It started with a tweet from Dexter Fishmore, who was kind enough to alert Kasparov to the Nets’ struggles:

And because we live in such an excellent era of communication, Kasparov responded:

Oh snap, Kasparov. Sick burn. Prokhorov wouldn’t know the democratic process if it came up and tried to register him to vote in a free election, am I right?!

It’s not often that basketball and geopolitcs collide, so indulge me for a second. Kasparov tried to run against Dmitry Medvedev, a member of Vladimir Putin’s regime, in the 2008 Russian presidential elections, but a “failure to find a sufficiently large rental space to assemble the number of supporters that is legally required to endorse such a candidacy,” led him to withdraw from the race (thanks, Wikipedia!). And as you’ll likely remember, Prokhorov himself ran against Putin in 2012; he garnered 7.8% of the vote in an election that Business Insider called, ”‘clearly skewed’ in favor of Vladimir Putin.

Apparently, though, Kasparov didn’t think Prokhorov’s opposition of Putin was on the up-and-up. Underhanded dealings in Russian poltics? I’m shocked!

Kasparov is far from the only one to have such misgivings, as opponents of Putin’s gave voice to the idea that Putin, who had to approve Prokhorov’s entry into the presidential race in the first place, used Prokhorov as a lightning rod for discontent in Russia. Prokhorov “tried to straddle the divide between Putin and the protesters, criticizing the prime minister but echoing his view that the protesters were short on strategy and ideas.

In the end, it’s all a bunch of he-said, he-said. Kasparov lost his bid to run for president of Russia, but he’s continued to play a prominent role as a voice of opposition in his home country.

It’s good to see that despite his failure to win election, however, Kasparov has kept his sense of humor and is willing to poke fun at Prokhorov. And maybe Prokhorov can take something from this; if the Nets continue to play like they have so far, he’s going to need a pretty healthy sense of humor of his own.