This post’s subject contains words I thought I would never say, at least in this order. For the first time in several years I am excited about the NBA — regular season NBA! In the past it would sometimes take me until the second round of the playoffs for me to become interested. I’ve long thought of the NBA as something to watch after that Early May Mets/Brewers game. For that reason I have watched a lot of the Western Conference playoffs. The eastern playoffs were usually not as compelling, consisting of power forwards from Detroit and Boston banging and smashing each other into the double bonus.
This year there is a lot to be excited about, and since I find myself in a new city bereft of steady gigs I have more time than ever to devote to ESPN, TNT, or whatever network happens to be showing a game. (there are quite a few of them) For starters, the Knicks got good again. Well, they’re better. They recently rattled off a startling 12 of 13 wins sending me into a frenzy of whining. [“Why did I have to move this year?!”] I was all excited that this week’s games– ESPN was broadcasted Knicks home games versus the Celtics and the Heat on Wednesday and Friday respectively. The Celtics game, which was decided on a Paul Pierce 13 footer with .04 seconds remaining, was tremendous, but two days the later the Knicks would be destroyed by the star-laden Heat. For the moment they have been exposed as a sharp-shooting team that plays little defense. But damn, they are fun to watch, and are at last relevant. They should make the playoffs and are a team on the rise.
The kid on the Clippers, Blake Griffin, is a lot of fun to watch and should be a force for years to come. If only the Clippers could ever have two or three good drafts in a row; they are the most hapless of organizations. It would be great for the league to have both them and the Lakers good at the same time. Do you remember, about 15 years ago, when the Clippers had all of these overweight players and were known as “The Phat Farm?” Good times…
Oklahoma, with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook is a good young team that should be a force for years to come. They’re probably not ready to challenge the Spurs or Lakers quite yet but they’re close.
The Spurs are amazing. Manu Ginobili, at 35, is having his best season, and Tim Duncan, although he is not quite the player he once was, is still plenty good. Throw in Tony Parker and Reggie Jefferson, and a great supporting cast and you have the team with the best record in the NBA. I never liked the Spurs that much but that’s probably more to do with the fact that I’m an idiot than anything else. They have been an unselfish team that has maintained a standard of excellence over the decades that few teams can rival. Since they drafted David Robinson, over 20 years ago, there haven’t been many down seasons for this organization.
The Celtics are another team that refuses to get old. I have to give it up to Kevin Garnett, who is having a bounce-back season, as well as Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Rajon Rondo, if he stays healthy, is one of the best point guards in the league.
Then there is the Orlando Magic, who with todays trades with Phoenix and Washington, may have catapulted themselves, at the very least, into the conference finals. They traded Rashard Lewis to Washington for Gilbert Arenas and acquired Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu from the Phoenix Suns for Vince Carter. Arenas, who was already having a comeback year with the Wizards, should be rejuvenated now that he is playing on a contending team. Throw in Dwight Howard who is one of the most exciting players in the game, and away you go!
All of these watchable teams bodes extremely well for me in the upcoming dark period between the Super Bowl and opening day of baseball. I’ve always dreaded this six-week trudge through the NBA and NHL midseason. This year is different. Bring it on!