When I was about 9 years old I was really a big basketball fan. I was actually a fan of the Miami Heat. Mostly because of Shaq and Dwyane Wade. What do you expect a kid to do when your Dad didn't like the Knicks? The Heat were exited from the playoffs in the Eastern Conference Finals and the Pistons went on to lose to the San Antonio Spurs. The next NBA season Dwyane Wade pushed his team passed the Pistons and beat the Mavericks after being down 2 games to none. Next year LeBron pushed his Cavs passed the Pistons and loss to the Spurs in the NBA Finals. This was just the start of my love for the NBA though.
The next year I got into seeing the first assembled big 3 in Boston. I was interested in how many championships this team would win now that Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce were all teammates. I followed them throughout the year while the Heat became the worst team in the NBA. An injured Dwyane Wade would do that to a team filled with scrubs and Shaq. I could care less though because there was good basketball on. The Celtics and Lakers made the NBA finals making it the best NBA season I watched yet. My Dad being a Lakers fan made it more fun. There was a rooting interest there. I rooted on LA because I didn't want Boston to win another title in different sport. You hated them, but you still wanted to watch them. Anyways the Lakers blew their chance when they lost a game that they were leading by about 18 at the half. A all around fun game to watch, but not the outcome I wanted. The Celtics would win the series and that capped off a great year.
After 2008 though, the NBA lost something. LeBron was doing his thing in Cleveland. The Magic became an elite squad. And Boston tried to repeat as champions even with an injured Garnett. The West was basically the Lakers again. It was a tough conference from the 1 seed to the 8 seed. I just wasn't feeling it though. The LeBron buzzer beater vs. the Magic was exciting, but the overall season lacked fun. I don't count LeBron dancing and taking fake pictures of his teammates with his imaginary camera as fun. The Lakers owned the Magic, whippee?
Then basically 2010 was the same thing. Except we ended with a game 7 Lakers vs. Celtics NBA Finals. Where the Lakers once again repeated as NBA Champions. Now I was tired of these two teams. It was fun two years ago, but it's time for some new flavor.
This off-season would bring the flav I needed to be 100% interested in the NBA again. LeBron made the decision to go to South Beach with Bosh and Wade. Amar'e went to the Knicks, and Boozer was a Bull. Mostly the other most coveted free agents resigned with their old teams. Like Dirk, Joe Johnson, and Rudy Gay. There was another big 3 on the map, a younger big 3. This would spark the ratings for the NBA. Again it was like the Celtics in 2008. You may have hated them, but you tuned in whenever they were on television. I for one was for it. It brought excitement, and it was great for the NBA. Anyone who says it wasn't is either an idiot or a fan of the Utah Jazz. Basically any team that doesn't have a big market. It's not like one of the greatest teams in NBA history got this trio. It was the Miami Heat, not the Lakers, Celtics, or Bulls. South Beach was Hollywood east now. Hollywood as hell Mr. Noah would say. Isn't this what sports needed though? The Yankees of the 70's, the Lakers of the 80's, the Cowboys of the 90's, Miami U football, and those Duke Blue Devil college basketball teams all had one thing in common. They were good and they knew it. They had their fun on the field, toyed with their opponent, had the media around them at all times, won, and everyone hated them. Yet people still tuned in to watch these teams. They drove ratings. I wouldn't put this era's Lakers in that category because many people I know was rooting for them. They seemed more like the 90's Bulls that more people were for them than against them. Back then it seemed everyone was a Jordan/Bulls fan.
Here is what we're missing in the up coming season.
Miami's elite trio
I'll miss this big 3. They were exciting to watch. Wade and LeBron in transition? That's just great basketball. I would like to see how they respond after losing in the NBA Finals. I would expect them to make it back to the Eastern Conference against the Bulls again. Not sure who would win that after Derrick Rose and co. become a year better and more experienced. I would like to see who they would possibly play in the NBA Finals. The Mavericks? Thunder?
Demise of NBA's elite
The Lakers and Celtics are the NBA's two greatest franchises. They combine for almost half of the leagues NBA championships just between the two. 2012 could be the year these two teams fall apart. Well not Cleveland Cavalier fall apart, but more like 4th or 5th seed in their conference. With Mike Brown taking over the Lakers and the Celtics aging this might be the year these two fall off as contenders.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are becoming one of the more feared NBA teams. They have a solid point guard in Westbrook and a star in Durant. Add in role players like Harden, Ibaka, and Perkins and you have a championship caliber team. An NBA Finals match-up in the making; Miami Heat vs. Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Knicks are back
The Knicks are back. I fully expect the Knicks to get a top 5 seed in the East this season. You could have the Heat, Bulls, Celtics, Knicks, Magic, Hawks, Pacers, and Sixers in the playoff again. This time I think the Knicks leap frog at least 3 of those teams. New York is ready to embrace their basketball team again. Just don't let Boston sweep you again.
Another monster free agency period is going to happen. Maybe not as anticipated because there will not be a LeBron in it, but you could come out with the leagues best center and a top 3 point guard. The Nets would like to show Deron they can build a team around him or else their first round pick Favors was traded for nothing. Dwight would like to show he wants to play in Orlando, but still would like to test his options in free agency. If that makes any sense at all. Basically STOP DRIVING DWIGHT OUT OF ORLANDO SPORTS WRITERS! Chris Paul is just looking to team up with any super team available. The best situation would be in New York, but he'd need to take a pay cut. Maybe he goes to Orlando, but that would mean Dwight isn't a Laker or Bull. Dwight as a Bull? Scary though...
Old Mavs or experienced Mavs
People will wonder if this veteran team could repeat. We may never find out. Redirkculous. That' all I have to say.
So this is why I'm asking why, just why? Why once this league got good does this happen? I know this is the year it expires, but it's not fair. Unlike in the NFL, the NBA will probably miss some games. Most likely half or even a full season of play. Basically Stern wants the players to earn less money. They earn 55% of the leagues revenue under the 1999 bargaining agreement. Stern wants a plan that would shrink that to around 37%. That's a big hit in money for the players. Something they just won't do when they might be able to earn more cash by playing over seas. I know Stern wants to make money, but without the players the league is nothing. The NBA relies on their superstars. The whole market plan for the NBA revolves around their key players. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, etc... There is a lot more players I can name. That's because this league is thriving right now and there's plenty of cash to go around. While there may not be $9 billion being split like the NFL the NBA isn't poor. Stern wants the players salary cap to stay around $2 billion. It's a lot of money, but the players won't be able to make money off the NBA revenue. It would all go to the owners. So in reality the players would be losing money. Really that isn't fair because the players are the main reason for the growth of the league. Would you be watching if Kwame Brown was an NBA superstar? I don't think so. That's why I think the old agreement was fine. Revenue would rise when the league rose, and the players would get rightfully rewarded for it. Maybe it's a tiny bit flawed, but there's the ability to revise it and tweak the old deal just a bit.
In the end the owners are being selfish. As a fan I am not on the owners side. I will blame this lockout on the owners because the players have no reason to budge for them. They're not being treated fairly. I didn't go to Madison Square Garden to see James Dolan. I came to see Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony. So being that I'm on the players side I expect a long delay before we see another NBA game. So maybe some of our favorite stars will play in Europe as a preview.