We need to talk
Please check out Substack's new feature Threads via the Substack app to join us for some robust NBA community discussion
It is not often that this roundball Substack gets the chance to veer into a tech lane.
On this Newsletter Tuesday, we are honored to have that opportunity.
Substack has been working on a new wrinkle to add to the platform called Substack Threads, which will serve as what it terms a "private social network" for your humble publisher of The Stein Line and our community to enjoy together.
That's because this publication has been chosen by Substack as one of seven to participate in a test pilot for Substack Threads to explore this new space for us to connect on a deeper level beyond the comment section at the bottom of my posts or the original thread functionality we've used to gather round-by-round playoff predictions.
This is more like a Slack channel or a group chat just for scribe and audience … or maybe even our own little detour from NBA Twitter. I will make some of the early threads available to everyone, but my Substack Threads will ultimately be an exclusive benefit for paid subscribers to The Stein Line. Subscribers will be invited to join and engage with me in Threads that I create that are separate from my traditional four-ish weekly posts.
Consider this a dedicated zone for us to go back and forth on NBA matters — and occasionally developments in the worlds of soccer, tennis, travel, food, etc. — in an environment devoid of ads and algorithms that will hopefully be rife with civility. I am always looking for ways to ensure that fully fledged subscribers to The Stein Line are getting as much as possible in return for their investment to support my work covering #thisleague as an independent journalist, so I jumped at the pitch to be one of the testers for this feature as we all figure out what works and what doesn't in this new realm.
The only prerequisite, beyond a paid subscription to The Stein Line after some introductory posts, is that you have downloaded the Substack app and are prepared to meet us there. Substack Threads will work only in the app, which happens to provide a very pleasant reading experience if you haven’t tried it yet compared to email consumption of a standard post. This FAQ should answer more of your questions about how this functionality operates, but here are the basics:
🏀 Download or update the free Substack app. The Android version is on the way, but for now using the iOS app is the only means to join Threads.
🏀 Along the bottom of the app’s main page, second from the left, is the Threads icon. Tap on that to see the Threads, which can not be sent to inboxes via email like traditional posts.
🏀 We’ll do 1-to-3 of these Threads every week depending on response and interest. One idea I had is moving the standard Question of the Week which runs in This Week In Basketball to Threads for a broader discussion. The app will allow you to dive right into the convo, react to the various text messages, images and links that appear and set up push notifications for new updates.
I posted my first Thread on Tuesday morning and, thanks to the power of those notifications, some of my reader pals have already found our chat. Join us!
PS — Here are the other six publications, from various corners of the Substack sphere and as they were listed in Substack’s official announcement Monday, that are also part of the pilot program if you want to check out their forays into Threads:
Terrell Johnson’s The Half Marathoner covers running, reading, and living
Suleika Jaouad’s The Isolation Journals transforms life’s interruptions into creative grist
Darryl Cooper’s Martyr Made podcasts on history, religion, nationalism and identity
Elle Griffin’s The Novelleist discusses being an artist in the age of the internet
Bill Bishop’s Sinocism is helping you get smarter about China
Haley Nahman’s Maybe Baby chips away at the inscrutability of modern life and popular culture
The Stein Line is a reader-supported newsletter, with both free and paid subscriptions available, and those who opt for the paid edition are taking an active role in the reporting by providing vital assistance to bolster my independent coverage of the league. Feel free to forward this post to family and friends interested in the NBA and please consider becoming a paid subscriber to have full access to all of my posts.
As a reminder: Tuesday editions, on this and every Newsletter Tuesday, go out free to anyone who signs up, just as my Tuesday pieces did in their New York Times incarnation.
Schedule Reveal Week!
On Friday and Saturday, I tweeted out two of the marquee matchups that the league has scheduled for Christmas Day for the coming season: Grizzlies at Warriors and Lakers at Mavericks. The other three 2022 Christmas games leaked out soon after: Sixers at Knicks, Bucks at Celtics and Suns at Nuggets.
All 1,230 games on the NBA’s regular-season schedule will be revealed at last on Wednesday afternoon, but ESPN/ABC’s Christmas slate holds particular interest this season because Dec. 25 falls on a Sunday in 2022, meaning that the NBA (gulp) will find itself going head-to-head with the NFL.
There will be three gridiron football games running throughout the day opposite those five NBA games: Packers at Dolphins, followed by Broncos at Rams, followed by Buccaneers at Cardinals. While true that none of the five basketball games will be played in Los Angeles, Miami or Phoenix, you’ll recall that the NBA and TNT made the landmark decision last season to move its vaunted Thursday night doubleheader and Inside The NBA show to Tuesdays for the first few months of the season so Turner’s programming wouldn’t have to compete with the NFL’s Thursday Night Football offerings.
Now for the uplifting news: Memphis indeed got the Christmas Day playoff rematch with Golden State it wanted. As my pal Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press noted, Charlotte is now the only franchise leaguewide waiting for its first invite to the Christmas party now that the Grizzlies are off the list. And for those wondering why the Warriors aren’t playing host to the Celtics, be advised that this will be the fifth season in a row to go away from an NBA Finals rematch on Christmas, dating to Cleveland at Golden State on Dec. 25, 2017.
PS — Contrary to popular speculation, I really don’t think that the NBA delayed the full release of the schedule in any way because of the Kevin Durant trade saga. No one in the league has been expecting a deal to come together quickly enough to affect schedule construction. All NBA teams received preliminary schedules last week, close enough to the usual timeline, so they could propose slight tweaks before a final version is issued.
Add Carmelo Anthony to this list from @KeithSmithNBA and you have 18 of the best available free agents with six weeks to go until training camp begins. There are eight former All-Stars among them: Isaiah Thomas, Rajon Rondo, Andre Iguodala, Blake Griffin, DeMarcus Cousins, LaMarcus Aldridge, Dwight Howard and Anthony.
The NBA announced last week that it is retiring No. 6 in honor of the late, great Bill Russell, but six franchises had already retired the number. Four had done so for players — Boston (for Russell), Philadelphia (Julius Erving), Phoenix (Walter Davis) and San Antonio (Avery Johnson) — and two (Orlando and Sacramento) took No. 6 out of circulation in a “sixth man” nod to their fans.
As a follow-up to our coverage of International Left-Handers Day, there are only 323 known southpaws in NBA history from a total of 4,711 players to appear in at least one game, per this Stathead list.
It is assumed by league historians that some past players had brief careers without their left-handedness being recorded, but based on available data only 6.9% of players in league history are lefties. The world’s overall left-handed population is routinely estimated at 10-12%.
The all-time leading southpaw scorers in NBA history:
Marko Milič, who will soon be joining the Mavericks’ coach staff, was the first of 11 Slovenian-born players in the NBA. The next 10 (in alphabetical order): Primož Brezec, Vlatko Cančar, Luka Dončić, Goran Dragić, Zoran Dragić, Boštjan Nachbar, Rasho Nesterović, Uroš Slokar, Beno Udrih and Sasha Vujačić.
Hopeless error I missed in last Tuesday’s extravaganza and have since corrected: My only previous trip to England for Manchester City’s opening game of the league season was in 2004 rather than 2003 … for the start of City’s second season at the Etihad Stadium. Not sure how I screwed that one up.
Erik ten Hag is Manchester United's sixth full-time manager since Sir Alex Ferguson stepped down after the 2012-13 season. Ten Hag has lost his first two games in charge by a composite score of 6-1 … which inevitably leads me, again, to think about what having to follow in the footsteps of Gregg Popovich in San Antonio might be like. Don't let Pop retire, Spurs!