NBA season about to get underway
Maybe the excitement of MLB playoff baseball doesn’t interest you. It’s a long shot, but there’s the chance that even the NFL’s return hasn’t grabbed your attention. The NHL is locked out and with no end in sight, sorry hockey fans. Don’t worry; there’s nothing to fear because the NBA season kicks off October 30 with games featuring the Washington Wizards vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Dallas Mavericks vs. the Los Angeles Lakers, and the main event featuring the defending NBA Champion Miami Heat vs. the Boston Celtics.
Finally an NBA season can begin without critics and pundits asking, can LeBron James get it done and win a championship? James and his Miami Heat emphatically answered yes last year when the Heat beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA finals 4 games to 1. James’ dominating playoff run was capped off not only with a championship ring, but also with a finals MVP award. Just winning the championship was not enough as “King” James and team USA basketball won a gold medal at this year’s Olympic Games, defeating every opponent the world threw at them. It’s evident that the amount of pressure lifted off of LeBron’s shoulders due to last year’s championship is immense, but now comes a new type of pressure. LeBron now faces the pressure of chasing the legacies of multiple championship winners the likes of Bill Russell, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kobe Bryant and the greatest ever, Michael Jordan. Just winning one championship will never be enough for LeBron in today’s NBA. If anyone can surpass Jordan as the best ever it’s LeBron James, but he will have his work cut out for him.
For other players like Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and Kevin Durant, this season will be a long battle to win their first championship. Dwight Howard was finally traded away from the Orlando Magic this offseason and he land in La La land with the Los Angeles Lakers. Howard brings to the Lakers his 2011-2012 league leading 14.5 rebounds per game, and 20.6 points per game last season. With the exception of Howard, the Lakers are loaded with aging stars Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Metta World Peace (Ron Artest) and Lakers new comer, Steve Nash. Nash, who will be turning 39 before the season ends, will bring much needed experience and talent to a Lakers team that lacked legitimate Point Guard play last season.. It will be interesting to see how Nash’s up tempo run at all times style of play fits with the Lakers half court offensive approach. It is questionable as to whether these new parts can gel with the ones already in place, but the even bigger question is whether or not these aging players can make it through the entire 82 game season injury free. Only time will tell if the Lakers are as good as they look on paper.
The team that will likely give the Lakers the most trouble are the Oklahoma City Thunder who posted a regular season record of 47-19 last season. Those 47 wins were enough to earn them a 2 seed in the western conference playoffs were they beat the Mavericks, Lakers and Spurs. They would later face and lose to the Miami Heat in the finals and the rest is history. The emotional loss is in the past and the Thunder are looking for another crack at the title. They shouldn’t have much trouble getting back to the finals if James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant duplicate their All Star seasons from last year. Kevin Durant has won the leagues scoring title the last three seasons, averaging 28 points per game last season to capture the crown. Durant will look to make it four seasons in a row, and it may take that type of effort for the Thunder to not only get to the playoffs but to go deep and possibly win the championship. The O.K .C Thunder have a young and talented team and will no doubt be in the mix come playoff time in May and April.
There are too many plot lines to go into detail in one article. Will Derrick Rose be able to return to all star form coming off a torn ACL injury suffered in last season’s playoffs? Can Tim Duncan and the aging San Antonio Spurs make one more deep playoff run? NBA fans will clamor to arenas and TVs to see if the Los Angeles Clippers will have more wins or highlights on SportsCenter this year. Can the Philadelphia 76ers take the next step with the addition of center Andrew Bynum? There are so many questions to be answered. The NBA will lace up their sneakers October 30 and only then will the story begin to unfold.