For Me, Halloween Means NBA: The Best Hoops on the Planet are Back

Posted: October 31, 2010 by sabetodo in Professional

By Andrew Bolton

After a summer filled with intrigue, the NBA season could not come soon enough for hoops junkies everywhere. Everyone watched as the entire NBA landscape went through some unforeseen and incredible changes. No team, even the hometown Pistons, came away from the off-season unchanged. Let’s take an alphabetical look at the 26 people, teams, places, and ideas that will dominate the 2010-2011 NBA season.

A is for Absence: The fans’ absence, that is. Aside from a few teams (Lakers, Thunder, Magic, others) that always draw well, last year was a horrible year for the NBA. Attendance was down. Viewership was down. Revenue was down. A combination of a lousy economy and lousy teams were enough reasons to keep many folks at home during the season, especially in our state, where the Pistons home sellout streak ended. Will the fans continue to stay away this season? What can the league do to get them back?

B is for Big Threes: Ever since Boston won the 2008 NBA title, teams have been trying to copy their formula for success: Trick Kevin McHale into giving you his franchise player, and then pairing him with two all-stars. Unfortunately for the rest of the league, McHale is no longer a GM, so it’s much harder to create a Big Three. Still, a few teams have managed to do it. We all know about the one in Miami. Oklahoma City has a pretty good three-pack with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Jeff Green. The original Big Threes are still around for Boston and San Antonio. But the one I’m most interested in is a potential Big Three forming in NYC: Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul going to play with Amare Stoudamire. Does the scoreboard go higher than triple digits?

C is California: Once again, the state of California has the most interesting basketball in the country. The Lakers are out for another three-peat. The Clippers (with a healthy Blake Griffin) are out to prove that they aren’t the Clippers. Golden State has the most explosive offense in basketball with Monte Ellis and Stephen Curry. The Kings have a talented young roster with Demarcus Cousins joining Tyreke Evans. Not only does California have the best or most interesting teams, they also somehow have the best fans. The crowds for all the home games are always unbelievable. Can the state of California rule the Western Conference this season? (This man’s opinion: no, of course not. The Clippers will always be the Clippers. Golden State doesn’t play defense. The Kings are too young. And the Lakers are too old. Finally.)

D is for Durantula: For those who don’t know, this is Kevin Durant’s nickname. Any basketball lover should be familiar with KD by now: the league’s youngest ever scoring champion, fresh off of carrying team USA (along with OKC teammate Russell Westbrook) to a gold medal this summer, younger than I am (and I’m only 23). Is this the year that he begins to dominate the NBA? Could he average 40 points per game? Would you take him over LeBron if you were starting a team from scratch?

E is for the Eastern Conference: The top three teams in the league (Miami, Orlando, Boston) play here, but after that, it’s a crapshoot. And I do mean crap. We could be in for some historically bad basketball here. Will finishing 10 games under .500 still be good enough for a playoff berth?

F is for Fastbreak: Remember the early 2,000’s, when defense was the name of the game? Those days are long gone. The Phoenix-patented run and gun has become the offense of today’s NBA, and this is the season that it will flourish. More and more teams are forsaking a set offense for the fastbreak: Phoenix, Golden State, Minnesota, the Knicks, along with the ultimate fastbreak team, the Heat, just to name a few. Is this the most entertaining basketball has been in the last 20 years?

G is for Greg Oden: He is the answer to the question, “What one player can tip the balance of power in the West?” Can he finally stay healthy and out of foul trouble long enough to be that guy?

H is for Heat: How could it be for anything else? They are the villains, the most hated team in the NBA, and probably the best team in the league. Will they win the title this year? How long did LeBron have to wash his hands to get all of Cleveland’s blood off of them?

I is for Ill-Advised: As in, “the contracts you just gave out were ill-advised.” As in, $20 million to Darko Milicic. $34 million to Wes Mathews. $119 million to Joe Johnson. $81 million to Rudy Gay. All of these deals came as the owners cry out in protest at how high player salaries are, which is one of the sticking points in the current CBA negotiations. When will the owners realize that they are the ones who control how much players get paid? That’s how capitalism works, after all: High demand + low supply = high price.

J is for Just Do It: Nike has had a tough go of it lately (well, as tough as it could get for a multi-billion dollar company). First, Tiger goes off the deep end. Nike makes a commercial that tries to redeem him in our eyes. Doesn’t work. Then, LeBron drops an atomic bomb on an entire city on national television. Nike makes a commercial to try to redeem him in our eyes. For me, it didn’t work. I don’t know what you should do, LeBron, but I know what you shouldn’t do: say anything else for a very long time. Will Nike get this message as well?

K is for Karl, George: George Karl has more strength than any of us can imagine. While dealing with throat cancer, he has voluntarily remained on the sidelines coaching the Denver Nuggets, who boast such standout citizens as JR “Even if both my hands were tied, I would still shoot” Smith, Kenyon “Neck Lips” Martin, and Carmelo “$65 Million? No thanks!” Anthony. Will the entire city of Denver riot if Karl doesn’t win Coach of the Year?

L is for Lakers: Can they win three in a row? If Kobe gets his sixth ring, how many columnists will proclaim him better than Jordan? Can we have these columnists beaten to death with their own newspapers?

M is for Minnesota: This happens to be one of my favorite states, which makes it hard for me to take the basketball atrocities being committed there. First, they have to suffer through the Kevin McHale era, wasting the prime of one of the 20-best players ever. Then, as a reward, they get David Kahn, a guy so clueless he gave $20 million to Darko Milicic. How long before the fans in Minnesota grab their pitchforks and torches?

N is for Nash, Steve: The ageless wonder. He has kept the Suns relevant for years longer than anyone thought he could, fighting constant back problems and an owner who either refuses to spend money or spends it on the wrong players. This season, he is without any of the weapons he had in his glory days with Phoenix, now that Amare has fled for the bright lights of New York City. Does Nash have one run left in him? Is this his last hurrah?

O is for Orlando: Dwight Howard spent the offseason training with Hakeem Olajuwon specifically so he could take apart Miami and Boston. If he’s learned anything, Orlando could be the best team in basketball by a wide margin. Is this year the Magic win the title?

P is for Prokhorov: The Russian billionaire is willing to do whatever it takes to win a title for the New Jersey Nets. Avery Johnson is a good start. Featuring Brook Lopez is better. Drafting Derrick Favors is better still (seriously, Favors is going to be a monster). They are still several players away from being a title team. After being the league’s worst last year, could the Nets get back to the playoffs in Prokhorov’s first year?

Q is for Quicken Loans Arena: This was the most annoying place to play basketball. Not only was the crowd into it all the time, not only was LeBron on the other team, but the PA announcer played music and other noises literally every minute of every game. Now, LeBron’s gone, meaning the team’s feature player goes from James to JJ Hickson. Will Quicken Loans Arena still rock like it did? Or is basketball dead in Cleveland?

R is for Resistance: The threat of a lockout next season is real. Negotiations will continue between the owners and the players all through the season. David Stern says that he wants to trim player salaries by $800 million. The players, not surprisingly, are against this. The last time there was a lockout, the owners got what they wanted, because players couldn’t last very long without getting paid. This time around, are the players in a better position to resist the owners’ demands?

S is for Seattle: The forsaken city, Seattle must watch from afar as the Oklahoma City Thunder turn into an NBA powerhouse. However, with the NBA talking about contraction, the city of Seattle has an arena and a passionate fan base, both of which are necessary for an NBA city. Could another team find its way to Seattle in the near future?

T is for Triangles: Two types of triangles here: the Texas Triangle, and the Triangle Offense. First, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio all figure to be title contenders this year. Of the three, by far the most successful is the Spurs. Does Tim Duncan have enough left in the tank to take the Spurs to the title one more time? Dallas has been close, but hasn’t won despite a huge payroll. Can Mark Cuban put a title team together this year? Or will Dirk waste one more year of his prime waiting for an adequate sidekick? Houston has been hit by injuries the last couple years. If Yao can stay healthy, can Houston break through? Will any of it be enough to conquer Kobe and the Lakers, who have so tormented all three of these teams?

U is for Upside: Impact rookies are the name of the game this year. Derrick Favors in New Jersey. Demarcus Cousins in Sacramento. Blake Griffin in Clipperland. However, the eyes of the nation are on John Wall, the electrifying point guard from Kentucky who fell into the Wizards’ lap. Can he take the Wizards away from Gilbert Arenas, who has been nothing but a distraction and a financial liability for the last couple seasons, and lead them back to respectability?

V is for Vision: It’s time to proclaim this season as the start of the Point Guard Era in the NBA. Rondo. Rose. Williams. Paul. Nash. The list goes on and on. Watching these guys play is a joy. Which one will lead his team to glory this season?

W is for Walsh, Donnie: The GM of the Knicks, Walsh captured Amare Stoudamire in free agency. Don’t think Donnie is done, however; as I mentioned earlier, there is potential for a fearsome threesome down the road in NYC. However, Knicks fans are very impatient. The team has been terrible for some time. Can the Knicks return to respectability this year? If not, is Donnie’s time in the spotlight almost up?

X is for X-Factor: Yes, it’s cliche, but each team has one. Who will take a leap forward this year and propel his team to a championship?

Y is for Youth: The infusion of young stars in the league has set the NBA for many, many years. However, the top two teams in the league are also two of the oldest (Lakers, Boston). Is this the year that the young guns take over the league? Or can the old guard hang on for one more year?

Z is for Zebras: Although the officials don’t wear stripes in this league, they still fall under this label. The officiating last year was among the worst the league had ever seen, and this was just part of a recent trend. Can the NBA admit that they need new officials who can keep up with the increased speed and physicality of today’s NBA?

All these questions and more are on my mind as we begin the NBA season. What do you guys think?

Next time: A Pistons preview that’s already too late.

  1. Marcellus Miller says:

    I liked the Lebron commercial…even Barkley did.

  2. Jared Field says:

    The Lebron commercial was creative, but lame at the same time. Lebron just needs to go away for a while. He punked out of Cleveland like a big baby.

  3. Coach RG says:

    LeBron should just embrace his role as the villain and that he is now only a better version of Scottie Pippen.

  4. Marcellus Miller says:

    Haters…he left because he wanted to. That’s his right. That’s the good thing about free agency. No one says anything when a team lets a player go or trades them away. Shaq, MJ, Barkley, Pippen, Malone, Kareem, Drexler, KG, Allen, AI, Nash, etc., all left for one reason or another to other teams. Did KG punk out of Minnesota? Did Lebron owe Cleveland anything? What, for making the city relevant and a ton of money? I guess to each his own…

    • Jared Field says:

      I didn’t say he shouldn’t have left Cleveland, nor did I say he didn’t have the right to. What I said is that he punked out of Cleveland which, if you watched him in his last few games, you’d remember. Not only did he punk out, but he turned into one of the biggest drama queens in the history of sports. I’d said on numerous occasions that Lebron would go down as the best player in the history of basketball, but I don’t think there’s any way that will happen now. Jordan he’s not…not by a long shot.

      • Marcellus Miller says:

        I hope you say that for the last few games versus the “drama queen”…because Jordan drew more than his fair share of drama up to and including his hall of fame induction speech.

      • Jared Field says:

        For all his faults, Jordan was a winner. Lebron is not.

      • Coach RG says:

        drama queen is aight, but i like the nickname princess jasmine better

      • Marcellus Miller says:

        Not yet…but remember that Jordan did not win until he got Scottie and Horace, etc. What was that 7-8 years into his career? In the beginning of it, he got many of the same criticisms in terms of selfishness too. But as I always say, we shall see…

      • Jared Field says:

        Jordan wanted to take the last shot. Lebron wants to make the last pass.

    • sabetodo says:

      LeBron owed Cleveland something. Like it or not, that’s the place that helped him launch his career. Of course it’s his right to leave, but to leave like that? Quitting in the playoffs, and then murdering basketball in Cleveland on live television? Cleveland deserved better than that just for letting LeBron control the franchise for seven years.

      • Marcellus Miller says:

        If Cleveland had not drafted him…another team would have. What does Cleveland owe him for all of the revenue?

    • wait a minute says:

      Getting a little chippy, I think the point is the way he left Cleveland. C’mon man. Your smarter than that.

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