2007/2008: Where Amazing Happened
By: The Italian
When it comes to the NBA you always hear fans talk about the "good ole days". The early days with Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell having epic showdowns with Russell always besting his longtime rival, proving that five men playing as a unit will always trump a single individual and also showing that great defense will always prevail against great offense.
After their showdowns came to an end, fans were wondering what is next for the NBA. The NBA went through some tough times but then two young legends emerged and took the league by the horns and brought back into mainstream.
These two players were Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. They took the two player rivalry to a entirely different level. Every time they stepped onto the court you knew it would be a showdown of epic proportions. You just knew that the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics were going to match-up in the Finals and square off for the coveted Larry O'Brien trophy.
After them you had Michael Jordan come in and take the league by storm. He left people flabbergasted and in awe and made them want more and more. He inspired a generation of fans and players alike with his high flying theatrics. He rewrote the history books and made people question the unwritten law that one lone soldier can win a Championship. "Air Jordan" swept the NBA nation and after it took its final flight, fans were wondering what is next?
When Jordan decided to finally hang it up for good, NBA fans were fearing another dark age. I mean after all, there was no way that anybody would be able to trump what Jordan did and the league would have to take a step back. The NBA kept on trying to hype up the next Jordan, but they were never able to succeed. What they failed to realize is that nobody will have the global impact that Jordan had. Jordan was a superstar in every sense of the word. His name was renowned worldwide.
The NBA kept on trying to bill these young stars into the next Jordan. First there was Kobe Bryant but he didn't have the immediate success that the higher ups wanted. After him came Vince Carter, but yet again the NBA was left disappointed. After Carter came another athletic specimen by the name of LeBron James. They are still trying to hype him up but it will never reach the height that Jordan brought. Fans started to become disinterested in the game and people started to long for the glory days of the NBA.
However, if this season is any indication of things to come, the future is very bright for the NBA. This season is one of the most memorable seasons in a long time. In my entire period of watching NBA basketball, I have never seen a season quite like this one. There was just so many amazing occurances and awe-inspiring moments that I don't even know where to begin. This season was jammed packed with excitement that any fan regardless of what interests them had plenty of things to get hyped up about. There was something for everybody this season. This season was special and one of a kind.
The Western Conference playoff race this season was out of this world. Never has there been such a competitive conference and tight race. In most years if you won 50 games then you were a guaranteed lock for not just the playoffs, but home court advantage.
Not this season as the Nuggets just barley edged the Golden State Warriors for the eight seed. In most years if you went on a legendary 22 game win streak you would be a sure thing to lock up first place in the conference. Not this season as the Rockets only managed to get the fifth seed.
In most years if you managed to win 56 games you were guaranteed to win your division. Not this season as the Spurs finished second to the Hornets in the Southwest Division. Usually the first and second teams are separated by two or 3 games, but not this season as first to sixth was only separated by a mere 2 games.
The NBA's Western Conference made every fan re-think their outlook on the magic numbers to clinch playoffs. Never before has a conference been this tight, and this competitive. Having 8 teams with over 50 wins is completely unheard and simply amazing. The Western Conference was just unreal this season and made for some outstanding moments and great excitement.
The Western Conference wasn't the only great race that occurred this season, the race to the MVP award was just as thrilling.
Normally there are only two candidates that are in the running for the award, but this season that was doubled as there was four players that all were very deserving of winning the award. Kevin Garnett revitalized the troubling Boston Celtics franchise and turned them into the best team in the league. He sparked the single greatest turnaround in NBA history and gave the struggling franchise new life.
Then you had LeBron James dominate and tear through the league. He put up some legendary number averaging 30/7/7. He single handedly took his Cavs team to the fourth best record in the Eastern Conference. He played some of the best basketball in recent memory, yet that was still not enough for him to even finish second place in the MVP voting.
You had Chris Paul leading his surprise Hornets to the second seed in the Western Conference, when hardly anybody picked them to even make the playoffs. Not only did he led them to a great record, he managed to put up one of the single greatest point guard seasons of All Time. In most years if you do what Chris Paul did for his team, you are a sure thing to win the MVP award, however as you all know, this wasn't most seasons.
Kobe Bryant finally completely grasped the team concept and the result was something special. He led his Lakers to the top seed in the Western Conference and played what many, including myself, to be the best basketball in his outstanding career. He sacrificed individual honors for the greater good of the team and that is just what all NBA fans were waiting for him to learn. He was rewarded for his phenomenal season with the MVP award, the first in his career. He really did put it all together this season and became a complete player in every sense of the word.
There was a surplus of blockbuster moves this season with many big name players finding theirselves a new home.
The Celtics started it all on draft night when the acquired Ray Allen from the Supersonics. That paved the way for them to pull of the biggest trade of the year by trading for Kevin Garnett. They traded a total of 5 players for him, including young stud Al Jefferson, which is the most players ever traded for just one. These two moves catapulted the Celtics from the leagues basement to the top of the league.
The Celtics weren't the only ones wheeling and dealing though, as that was just the beginning of the madness. The Cavs, Sonics and Bulls made a huge 3 way trade which sent Drew Gooden, Larry Hughes, Shannon Brown and Cedric Simmons to the Bulls, Ben Wallace, Delonte West, Joe Smith and Wally Szcerbiak to the Cavs and Donyell Marshall, Ira Newble and Adrian Griffen to the Sonics.
The Kings and Hawks made a deal which sent longtime King Mike Bibby to the Hawks for Sheldon Williams, Tyronne Lue, Anthony Johnson, Lorenzen Wright and a 2nd round draft pick. This trade was the final piece to the Hawks playoff puzzle as they ended their long time playoff drought.
The Suns made a shocking trade which sent Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks to the Miami Heat in exchange for Shaquille O'Neal. Many people criticized the Suns for this deal but if you really look into it, it was not a bad move at all.
Dallas acquired Kidd, Antoine Wright and Malik Allen from New Jersey in exchange for Devin Harris, Trenton Hassell, Maurice Ager, DeSagana Diop, Keith Van Horn and first-round draft picks in 2008 and 2010. The Mavs stumbled right away with Kidd in their lineup and they never really adjusted. Give them a full season together and a training camp to get properly adjusted, and I am sure we will see this move pay off for the Mavs next season.
Last but certainly not least the Lakers made a move that elevated theirselves from playoff contenders to championship contenders by acquiring Pau Gasol from the Grizzlies in exchange for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, Marc Gasol first round picks in 09 and 2010. This season had no shortage of blockbuster moves and it made for an even more interesting and exciting season with new match ups and old rivalries renewed. The blockbuster trades made for some great storylines which only added to the excitement.
The NBA also saw some of its young stars truly come into their own this season.
The future of the point guard position is in great hands with the amazing play of two young studs. These two players are Chris Paul and Deron Williams. Both drafted in the 2005 NBA draft, they have certainly made their mark on the league and are already the top two point guards in many peoples minds. These two are certainly nowhere close to peaking in their development either and will only get better. These two are going to provide us with some classic moments for many years to come and they may just become the next great NBA rivalry.
It isn't just the point guard spot that is in good hands though, as Brandon Roy elevated his game even more this season. When he was taken he was labeled as a finished product but boy was that not the case. After winning the Rookie of the Year award in the 06/07 season, Roy just improved on that as he was named to his first All Star game this season. He is only getting better and looks like he can be a dominate force for years to come.
Roy's fellow draftee Rudy Gay turned some heads as well. He took some huge strides in his game, so big that he was mentioned for the Most Improved Player award. He turned into a 20 point scorer and was handed the keys to his own franchise when the Grizzlies traded Pay Gasol. He didn't have any troubles accepting the responsibility.
You also had two great rookies this season in the Rookie of the Year Winner Kevin Durant and the runner up in Al Horford. Durant showed that he is a dynamic scorer by averaging 20 points a game, which is the most in a rookie season since 2003.He showed signs of greatness and will definitely only be getting better, The sky is the limit for this kid.
Al Horford didn't have a shabby rookie season either. He almost averaged a double double and was a key player for the Hawks team. He didn't have much of a role offensively, but when called upon he produced. Like Durant, this kid has all the potential in the world and will only get better as he matures and gains experience.
These are just some of the great young players that the NBA has to offer, and when you combine them with already superstar players in LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and many others, the future is looking very bright for the NBA.
These are just some of the amazing moments of the season. So for the people that are always living in the past and wishing for the glory days of the NBA, I ask you this, what is so wrong about the NBA now? One thing is for sure, the future is very bright.
NBA's 2007/2008 Regular Season: Where Amazing Happened.
I saw LBJ 4 MVP's season review article (good work by the way) and decided to post mine that I wrote as the playoffs were set to begin. Hope you enjoy this one.