The NBA playoffs are upon us! In preparation of the league's most exciting post season in recent memory, here, in my humble opinion, are the top 5 story lines from the past NBA season.
5) Kobe's fresh shot at a ring (and the theft of Pau Gasol from the Grizz)
Who would have thought that Kobe Bean Bryant would not only still be on the Lakers at this point in time, but would be flourishing? Even more astonishing, who would fathom that this version of the team would have it's best shot at a ring since Shaq left for Miami. Can you think of anyone who could beat this team four times in the West? I think Kobe may finally be getting this leadership thing down pat; at the same time, I don't think he should be MVP over a historic performance by Chris Paul this season.
4) The complete disregard for Seattle fans by the league and Clay Bennet.
Much has already said on TV and in print about the plight of the NBA in Seattle. As a sport's fan from a smaller market, part of me is happy to see another relatively small market woo a legitimate professional franchise to it's city. A larger part of me, however, empathizes with the huge loss coming up for the city of Seattle. 40 odd years of having a NBA team is like having a family member, especially a franchise that has tasted success like the Supersonics. Now that more information is coming to the light about how the present team owners allegedly failed to meet the terms of their sale contract with the requirement of "good will conduct and actions" I have no sympathy for either the business side of the league or the billionaire owner. I hope that things work out for the fans in Seattle, but, at this point, the situation looks bleak. I hope I am wrong.
3) Chris Paul's historic season (and the emergence of the Hornets as a power in the west)
Chris Paul should be MVP. To take a team so weak on paper as the Hornets in the WEST and be currently leading the standings going into the playoffs is nothing short of extraordinary. Add to that that the de facto team leader and star is having a historical season at the Point Guard position and in only his third season has taken the mantle from Steve Nash as the best point guard in the world is absolutely unbelievable. At time of posting, Paul is averaging 21 points, 11.6 assists, and is leading the league in steals at 2.7 a game. Want a scary stat? His per 48 minutes adjusted numbers are a whopping 27 points and 15 assists a game. We haven't seen an adjusted stat line like that since NBA Live 95. Shades of Tiny Archibald, anyone?
2) Trade deadline madness (otherwise known as the 2008 NBA arms race)
The trade deadline saw the former best point guard in the League and the former MDE (most dominant ever) traded to possible contenders from lame duck franchises. It also saw the biggest steal in NBA history since the Knicks fixed the 1985 draft to get Patrick Ewing (I jest, Knick fans). If either team finds it way to the Title this post season, the basketball community will point at these last second acquisitions as the defining addition to the title run. On the flip side, if the Suns or Mavericks fail embarrassingly in the playoffs, you can bet your bottom dollar that anyone with any interest in the league will point to these trades as the reason the team sunk.
1) The triumphant re-entry of the Boston Celtics into National relevance (GO KG!)
And, for my number one storyline of the season, Boston becoming a basketball town again. I can't think of another trade that so instantly rejuvenated a lagging franchise or lagging interest in a city. KG not only changed the win loss record, he brought in a whole different warrior attitude and defensive intensity not seen since......Bill Russell himself. Add to that the biggest single season turn around in win loss in NBA history, a number one seed in the playoffs, and the third best defense in history and you have quite a compelling storyline. Even if the Celtics don't win the championship this year, they are in excellent position for the next 3 years if they are able to keep their bench young and their health intact.
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