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Bill Simmons: 2011 Playoffs Mean NBA Is Back, But Maybe Not For Long

In case you haven't been to Bill Simmons' new digs, Simmons has a new column up at Grantland. It's times like these that it's particularly entertaining to read someone like Simmons. Our team is in the Finals and our team plays basketball, so that's pretty much your best shot at veering his attention away from the coasts to at least acknowledge our presence. 

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As with most of his NBA stuff, particularly this time of year, it's a good read. He thinks that all of the close games, particularly in the Finals, in combination with how polarizing the Heat have become, has put the NBA back in our focus. He's also fearful of what will happen soon after the Finals end.

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You may have noticed this, but the NBA is back. Not since Michael Jordan was coughing up mucus on Ahmad Rashad in Utah has the league been this compelling: personified by its incredible 2011 Finals, currently riding a four-game "Games That Will Be Shown On ESPN Classic" streak.

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So why is it so hard? Why are we 20 days away from that self-imposed June 30 deadline with no real momentum? Where is the urgency? Why did Derek Fisher, the head of the National Basketball Players Association, decide that his family vacation was more important than a fairly crucial labor meeting in Miami last week? And why doesn't anyone realize that the league will absolutely shut things down on July 1 if there's no agreement?

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There's a lot of the standard 'here's why the NBA is better than other leagues' stuff, but still a good read. More than anything, though, I'm dying to read another Simmons tribute to Dirk, this one after he has a title under his belt. It would be one of the angles we first think of if we finally see Dirk arrive where he belongs.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.