In the aftermath of this past NBA season, the league enjoyed what was perhaps one of the best NBA Finals in recent history. The league hierarchy will now look at ways to be of a bigger presence on the sporting landscape. LeBron James was a one-man show during the Finals against the Golden State Warriors, but even he could not do it all by himself.
James and the Cleveland Cavaliers were simply no match for the Warriors and clearly David Blatt was out of his depth during the series. I repeatedly heard many of LeBron James’ supporters suggest the player could carry this team all the way to Finals’ glory. Granted, without the aid of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love , the four-time League MVP’s task was made even more difficult. Yet as gallant as his efforts were, the team was found wanting when it mattered most as Steph Curry , Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson marched their way to an NBA title and the Warriors’ first championship since 1975.
As this NBA off-season panned out ,the idiocy of what we come to know as the drama of the league took one step closer to even greater absurdity as DeAndre Jordan couldn’t make his mind up, if he wanted to be courted by the Dallas Mavericks or re-sign with the Los Angeles Clippers. Let’s put this way , since the inception of the reality show ‘ The Bachelor’ , the eponymous show has yet to have a person of color as its lead character. In one fail swoop the NBA provided us with its own version of that, with two suitors for the talents of the power forward. The Clippers won out, because Doc Rivers, Steve Ballmer , Chris Paul and Blake Griffin decided it would be better to have Jordan remain with the team than see him go elsewhere. Mavericks’ team owner Mark Cuban might not have shown a great deal of anger with his overtures being snubbed by DeAndre Jordan, but the truth be known , the player is not the heir apparent to Dirk Nowitzki and he is not a player who is proficient enough to lead a team , and he simply plays the role he is best accustomed and that is being the third wheel in the makeup of the Clippers, as an on-court product.
Inasmuch as I believe the NBA remains a brand, which is highly entertaining , when the teams are truly competitive, its biggest fault still remains the fact the coaching has become mediocre and the incoming talent from the college level is simply banal . There wasn’t much to suggest even with Rookie of The Year , Andrew Wiggins on their roster, the Minnesota Timberwolves will see a gradual progress back to competitiveness within the Western Conference , much less against the rest of the NBA. Point guard Ricky Rubio remains unhappy and the front office led by Flip Saunders and team owner Glen Taylor seem to be devoid of all intellect and in the rebuilding of the roster. The recent NBA Draft did not provide the fans with the belief the franchise was heading back in the right direction, then again, the Timberwolves’ plight not be as bad as first thought. If Wiggins and Rubio can co-exist , with the rest of the roster also coming together, then signs of life might well be possible for the team. Seasoned veteran Kevin Garnett is now back with the Minnesota Timberwolves , the franchise where he first got his start in the league. Garnett may well be there as a leader and a de-facto on-court coach, but the player is now in the waning years of an illustrious career.
OK, so we all know how badly both the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks performed during this past season, with both franchises failing miserably to even contend within their divisions as well as their respective conferences . Considered a basketball genius as a head coach, Phil Jackson has proven as a front office executive , he is not able to assemble a competitive roster or coaching staff , than Sarah Palin might be considered a political genius and well-versed in the nuances of the political climate of the country domestically, as well on the global stage. Jackson’s counterpart with the Lakers, GM Mitch Kupchak, might well be excused the fact he has to deal with the Buss family, with Jim Buss and his two siblings, Jeanie Buss and Johnny Buss . It would be fair to suggest the children of the late Jerry Buss were handed the keys to a Ferrari, but have simply seen it turn into a rust bucketed jalopy. The value of both the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks combined, is said to worth in excess of $5.1 billion , making the two NBA franchises , the most valuable teams in the NBA as well as among the most profitable .
Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony might well be at advanced stages of their respective careers , but I now believe the ship has passed, whereby either will win another NBA title. In the case of Carmelo Anthony, it would be his first and if anyone is of the belief head coach Derek Fisher is capable of making it a reality for the New York Knicks , then one might as well start to rethink that entire premise altogether. Learning on the job and failing miserably ,as he did last season , was epic in proportion and then you realize beyond the ineptness of the playing staff , you then had to deal with the lack of coaching acumen from Fisher’s coaching assistants . All of this came about, because Phil Jackson’s ego and narcissism grows by the second and is almost as large as Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York . Given what I witnessed last season from of the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks , I do not believe there will be enough of an improvement for either to contend for the NBA title !
Four years ago Deron Williams was considered among the best point guards in the NBA . Williams and Rajon Rondo in the space of a year have gone from being considered among the league’s elite at the position to persona non-grata. The former Brooklyn Nets’ point guard was jettisoned by the franchise as they seek to rebuild after a disastrous season. Deron Williams is now a member of the Dallas Mavericks , no doubt seen as a suitable replacement for the malcontent , Rajon Rondo , who did little to contribute to the Mavericks’ season during the regular and postseason , as witnessed with their first round loss to the Houston Rockets . Defensively, the Mavericks are and will remain a mess, because head coach Rick Carlisle has yet to make it a real emphasis concerning the team’s overall strategy. As I stated earlier, DeAndre Jordan would not have been a good fit for the Dallas Mavericks and I certainly believe it to be the same case with Deron Williams ! He doesn’t have the will to win , or lead a team. It was never the case during his years with the Nets or the Utah Jazz, the franchise where he got his start.
For the Brooklyn Nets, where they now go from here is just about anyone’s question and for those willing to answer , does anyone truly believe Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson are good enough to lead this team in their current guise to a divisional title, much less a deep playoff run in the postseason ? The East Conference we simply know to be mediocre and a .500 record is an almost certain guarantee of the conference berth. Lionel Hollins and the Nets’ coaching staff will have a great deal of work to do if the Brooklyn Nets are to have any chance of making such a premise a reality. Off-season moves by the Nets may well prove to be fruitful, but for GM Billy King time is now running out , with team owner Mikhail Prokhorov willingly to off-load the loss-making Eastern Conference franchise .
The primary key to success within the NBA, is consistency and over the past eighteen years there has been no more consistent a franchise than the San Antonio Spurs . Eighteen successive playoff appearances and five NBA titles have stamped their mark in the annals of NBA history . Gregg Popovich behind his ‘Three Horsemen of The Apocalypse’ have been the ever-present forces of nature which have made this success all possible . Tim Duncan , Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker have been the players responsible, but it would also be remiss to overlook the contributions of David Robinson . The additions of LaMarcus Aldridge and David West adds potency on the team’s offense and adds a real defensive presence as well. GM RC Buford is once again proving why he is one of the best general managers in the league, while having the wholehearted support of team owner Peter Holt throughout his tenure.
Gregg Popovich and the coaching staff will now have one of the most versatile and depth resourceful rosters in the entire NBA. Any doubts the Spurs can’t be considered a favorite for the NBA title will have to be viewed with a great deal of apathy. I know the oxygen deprived brains of the odds-makers in Las Vegas and the LeBron James apologists will still have their lips firmly pressed on the sphincter of the Cavaliers’ guard, as is their want . In their eyes LeBron can do no wrong , even when his NBA Finals’ tally of appearances, is just 2-4. Yes, two wins from six appearances in the Finals . What am I missing here, other than the repeated and asinine comparisons to Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan ?
On Gregg Popovich’s coaching staff is retired former WNBA star Becky Hammon , who has made history leading the Spurs’ affiliate to the Summer League Title . Popovich has repeatedly reiterated that Hammon is more than qualified in her role. Now comes the question , is it possible for her to become the first female in the NBA to coach a professional franchise in the league , rather than a minor league affiliate ?
Becky Hammon was not hired to be the lone female on the coaching staff and as sexist as the league remains in spite of their having Violet Palmer being the first female to be a officiate an NBA regular season game. David Stern has repeatedly sold the fans a lemon, by way of his ongoing stupidity and repeated ignorance of not just player misconduct and that of the owners , but this simply reiterates what tends to happen when the pursuit of profits trumps everything else including the integrity of the game . The NBA has long sought to be socially progressive, but at times the behavior and attitude of the hierarchy , owners and players seems to reflect an opposing view.
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With the NBA still in its off-season and there being little news of note as of late , what do you believe will be one of the main issues facing the league this upcoming season ?