13 February 2008

The State of the NBA

This article originally ran in the Feb. 12th edition of the Scroll.

It's that time of year again! The Superbowl is over, the World Series was a week ago and still days away from spring training, and the Kentucky Derby isn't until May. It's too darn cold outside to get off the couch and go play in the park, so we might as well plunk ourselves down in front of the television and watch the marvel that is the NBA.

The NBA has its detractors. There are those who point at individuals like Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony as being bad examples for our children. There are those who complain that referees give preferential treatment to players who have achieved star status. Still others say the pace of an NBA game is slower than Paris Hilton when confronted with an algebra problem.

To all these criticisms I eloquently answer, “So what?” The NBA is awesome. Where else can you see 6'7” men make a shot 30 feet away from the basket? Where else can you see a 22-year old dunk over three muscle-bound guys with corn rows? Where else can you see 58 free throws taken in less than two hours?

Okay, so ignore that last one. I maintain that this season has been and is shaping up to be one of the best in recent memory. The Western conference continues its dominance over the East, as teams like San Antonio, Phoenix, Utah and Dallas are all playing well. But the Celtics' Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen have been tearing it up to the tune of 40 wins and only nine losses so far.

And then there are the Western Conference teams that no one expected to do well, Portland and New Orleans, right in the mix for their respective division championships. Shoot, the Hornets have the best record in the West, though there are plenty of teams right on their heels.

The West race is so tight that the top eight teams are all within five games of each other. The Trailblazers would be out of the playoffs if they started today, yet they are only six games behind New Orleans.

The talent in the West is such that Deron Williams isn't on the West's All-Star team with the following stat line: 19 points, 9.7 assists, one steal and three rebounds a game, while shooting 51% from the field and 40% from the 3-point line. As a Jazz fan, the omission bothers me, but I understand that there are players like Steve Nash, Chris Paul and Allen Iverson who are just thaaaat much better.

And in the East, LeBron James has been even more unstoppable than usual lately, while Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh and Jason Kidd are tearing it up.

So let's enjoy the ride while it lasts. Before you know it, summer will be here and the only sports to enjoy will be bowling and underwater basket-weaving.

Or I guess we could, you know, spend time with our loved ones or something.

It's your call.


Jimmy said...

Whenever I read your work in the Scroll, I want to make comments right there, then I realize there is no such system. Thus, paper is officially obsolete to me.

So, the NBA is weird. And I got to relive the glory days of the Sixers last night talking to a dude, about back when we had AI and Mutumbo. Those were the days.

Filbert Karo said...

The Paris Hilton comment made me laugh.