Well if you had any doubts that the NBA season is underway, then look no further than the play of the Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic , Cleveland Cavaliers , Los Angeles Lakers , Portland Trailblazers, Denver Nuggets, and the Atlanta Hawks. And perhaps the most surprising of these teams mentioned may well be the Atlanta Hawks.
The Eastern Conference Hawks have been playing some exemplary and an exciting brand of basketball. So much so, that one has to say that they’ve got to be looked at as the ‘surprise team’ within the NBA at present. And for Commissioner, David Stern ,this has got to be pleasing not only for him , but the NBA hierarchy and most of all the fans in general around the NBA. Without the usual up and comers shall we say , we’d still be looking at the usual suspects around the league for our entertainment. Granted , we’re also witnessing the privilege of seeing the mediocrity of the New Jersey Nets. And one sincerely hopes that their alarming slide into banality doesn’t continue throughout the remainder of the season ? If so, then their long suffering fans may well have to look elsewhere for entertainment in terms of the hardcourt game. And let’s put it this way the entertainment they seek , won’t be coming from the New York Knicks, either ! This Mike D’Antoni coached team gives a new meaning to the word putrid, in terms of their overall play. And what’s even more alarming is that there appears to be no effort forthcoming from the team.
We know that the game’s major stars in the guise of Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James , Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Brandon Roy will be looking to hold sway over the league with their play. But it’d be remiss not to mention some of the rookies in the league who’ve started off strong. The Milwaukee Bucks’ Brandon Jennings has shown that he’s a star on the rise. And though he’s no longer a rookie the play of the Oklahoma Thunder’s Kevin Durant has made everyone sit up and take note of this ‘one man wrecking crew’. It seems that on any given night when his game is on , then Durant comes out to lay waste to the opposition by running them ragged with his offensive weaponry. Never mind the fact that he’s making the scoreboard register numbers faster than the women who are coming out of the woodwork to lay claim that they’ve been bedded by Tiger Woods.
There are number of teams that are on the decline due to a number of factors. A lack of coaching , inexperienced or an aging roster and then some could also say that there might be something of mindset with the lack of a will to win. And at present those traits seem to sum up the Detroit Pistons. The loss of Rasheed Wallace to the Celtics and the return of a ‘prodigal son’ in, Ben Wallace , seems to have not made a change for the better. If anything the team is struggling to show some semblance of competitiveness. And for team coach, John Kuester and General Manager, Joe Dumars this is something of anathema and a dilemma. The acquiring of Allen Iverson backfired with the team trading Chauncey Billups in exchange for the seasoned veteran. But the turmoil that followed, in essence summed up how far the team has fallen. Then coach, Michael Curry couldn’t instill what he wanted out of the players and nor did they reciprocate with their best efforts in return. It certainly then didn’t help that there was a degree of acrimony being built up between Iverson and Curry- and also between Iverson and Dumars. It would all lead to the abrupt firing of Curry and Iverson being allowed to leave the team as a free agent.
Allen Iverson’s sojourn with the Memphis Grizzlies was short lived. And he has returned to where his NBA professional career started, in the city of ‘Brotherly Love’ with the Philadelphia 76ers. His presence there, though welcomed with opened arms, it will take a great deal of more than a love-fest between the two parties for Iverson for to prove that he’s still capable to contributing to a team, not just as a player with offensive presence but also to prove himself as a team leader with veteran presence. That if anything will be the legacy now for Iverson at this stage of his career. He’s at the twilight of it and one seriously doubts if the 76ers has what it takes to be even viewed as a legitimate contender for postseason honors , much less as a contender within the Eastern Conference. At best they may well no more than a fifth or sixth seed out of the conference, when it’s all said and done.
While there’s a great deal to be said for the talent in the Eastern Conference . It is their counterpart in the Western Conference where ‘the show’ is said to take place. The eight best teams in the conference record wise , all have an above .500 record. Whereas , in the Eastern Conference ony five of the top eight teams even have an above .500 record. The quality and the talent is in the West but in the East there the game is greatly predicated on defense. In the West that’s not always the case. Though you’d be hard pressed to believe when hearing many of the fans there speak about how their teams are defensively. Say it ain’t so ?
Now as we may wile away our time opining on our teams. We ought to remember that the season has essentially started as of now. What little we’ve seen of the teams, has been for them to start to fine tune their games for the onslaught of the next six arduous months of traveling and playing. For some teams their season is already essentially over . No disrespect to the Nets, Warriors , Timberwolves , Knicks and Sixers. Don’t call us but we’ll call you if the NBA is in need of your services for the postseason.
It has to be said that this season is one filled with a great deal if intrigue as there are so many plot lines ,suspense and theater to be had. Will LeBron James with Shaquille O’Neal in tow be able to lead the Cavaliers to a title ? This may well be his last shot at one with the organization. Can the Celtics regain their composure and acquire another title with Kevin Garnett leading the charge ? Or will we see Dwight Howard finally live up to that leadership role with the Magic, instead of the asinine portrayal of Superman ? The thing is, it wasn’t Kryptonite that led to Howard imploding in last season’s NBA Finals against the Lakers. It was his sheer arrogance and naivete’ that led to his and the team’s downfall.
For the Los Angeles Lakers and their influential coach Phil Jackson, this season and NBA championship is theirs to lose. As the presumptive favorites to win it all again this season. It’ll be down to the calming influence of Jackson and the mercurial skills and leadership of Kobe Bryant take to this once again to the ‘promised land’. And one would hope that Bryant’s new teammate, Ron Artest, can above all, keep a level head on his shoulders ? As it is, he’s already proving that his basketball mind is great but anything beyond that intellectually and he’s like a fish out of water.
Commissioner , David Stern sits down with noted columnist and tv sports personality Michael Wilbon. Stern discusses the economics of the NBA.
Plot lines , stocking stuffers , call it what you will. Because ‘Santa Claus Stern’ wants you to enjoy this festive season surrounding the NBA and up to the season’s finale. After all, it is the least he’s asking of you , or is it ? Have fun this NBA season and hopefully your team will do well !
NB: To view the NBA Conference standings click here….
General allround NBA stats click here .
NB: You can also find this post within http://thebasketballoracle.com under the same title The Real Season In The NBA Starts Now ….Because It’s Christmas And David Stern Is Santa Clause …. ?