Monday, October 11, 2010

Giving Thanks to the NBA!

Posted by: Mat the Rook

In Canada itʼs that time of the year. The time when family comes together, food gets served out, stomachs become full and for some, relaxing reaches a new peak.

Thanksgiving is a time to look back and give thanks for what you have in your life whether
it be material or not and acknowledge the positives. That being said, hereʼs a quick breakdown of the top 10 things to be thankful for in this upcoming NBA season:

10. Opening night - Very soon weʼll be looking forward to the opening night of the NBA season. After a summer of turmoil in some cities along with more movement than Pamela Andersonʼs physical features when it comes to NBA free-agents, teams and fans will finally be able to see what their respective rosters look like in game action that means something. Sure, the pre-season is great, we get to catch a quick glimpse of our favorite stars, but when October 26th hits and the Celtics host the Heat, weʼll know itʼs game time - for real.

9. Young talent - No, this isnʼt a shout out to Thaddeus Young - even though Iʼm sure he could use some love - but instead a shout out to all the young talent thatʼs emerging in the NBA. Last season brought in the likes of Brandon Jennings, Tyreke Evans, Steph Curry, DeMar DeRozan, DeJuan Blair, James Harden, Jonny Flynn, Darren Collison and Taj Gibson. This year fans are treated to John Wall, Blake Griffin,
Evan Turner, DeMarcus Cousins and Derrick Favors. Thereʼs no doubt that with the NBA becoming younger it can only get more exciting.

8. No more one hour specials on free-agents - Yeah, it was exciting to hear where
LeBron was going to play this upcoming season. Iʼd be lying to you if I said I wasnʼt on the edge of my seat the whole time as I watched LeBron James sporting his Abe Lincoln beard tell the world where he planned to take over next. My issue - along with millions of other viewers - was that the special needed to be no longer than two minutes. A quick, “LeBron, where ya headed?” followed by, “Miami,” would have done
the trick for me! Needless to say the way that the decision was conducted seemed to be more important than the actual destination.

7. The Eastern Conference - After years of talk that the East could never catch up to the West in talent, the year has come. Without a doubt the East has two if not three potential NBA Champions in Miami, Orlando and Boston, with Atlanta, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Charlotte looking in on that 5/6 spot in the division. It seems as if this could be the first year in a while too where all eight teams in the East finished with a record above .500 and made the playoffs. In recent years teams have failed to make the playoffs out of the West with records as high as 10 games over .500 while East teams slip in with subpar records. The welcoming back of the East can only be a blessing for the NBA and itʼs fans.

6. The Oklahoma City Thunder - Starting as a franchise on the move from Seattle to a
young group, the Thunder have emerged as a Western Conference power. Two years back not many people couldʼve pictured the Thunder as much of a contender in any picture, but now lead by Kevin Durant the Thunder look poised to improve on last seasonʼs eighth place finish in the West. The young core of the Thunder is scary considering that their average age on the team is in the mid-20ʼs and the core of Green, Westbrook and Durant has made it clear they plan on sticking together as long as possible. Add James Harden in there with backup point guard Eric Maynor and the Thunder look like a serious threat not just for a playoff spot but in the very near future an NBA championship.

5. NBA trios - Weʼve seen Boston do it with Allen, Pierce and Garnett. Weʼve seen the Lakers go with Pau, Kobe and Artest. Now the Miami Heat have done what could be considered the biggest blockbuster of them all by bringing in LeBron James and Chris Bosh to play along side Dwayne Wade. While the critics are out on whether this is good or not for the NBA to have such stacked teams, as a fan you canʼt help but sit back and be amazed at whatʼs going on. In reality is beautiful for the sport. Three of the top players arguably in the league in Bosh, Wade and James are teaming up together for less money in order to achieve the same goal of winning a ring. Boston did it, it worked. The Lakers did it - even if it wasnʼt publicized that they did - and it worked. Now itʼs up to the Heat to see if their little experiment of a three headed monster can succeed too. Is this a look into the future for the NBA? With names like Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul floating around the New York media thereʼs a pretty good possibility that soon New York fans could be giving thanks to their newest creation in the big apple.

4. Marv Albert - Yes, I know. How can a list like this somehow include Marv Albert? Itʼs
quite simply actually. This list is all about giving thanks and for that the NBA and all of itʼs fans - at least those watching on TV - should give a huge thanks to Marv. Heʼs been passionate in his work for the past decade now and itʼs shown in his work and his wardrobe. The sighting of Marv on TV has lifted smiles off the most depressed individuals at any time. His wardrobe which consists of nothing that the normal business man would wear in a day seems to lift the spirits of all NBA players and fans at first glance. For this Marv, I give thanks!

3. Kevin Durant - Where to begin on Durant? Heʼs without a doubt one of the most respected athletes in North America by both his peers and fans. The man walks around with a sense of composure and professionalism at all times and never seems to shy away from helping out in any form that he can. Durant will become the posterchild of the NBA in the near future if David Stern realizes that the league needs that. When Dwight Howard claimed earlier in the summer that Durant was in fact a better player than LeBron, KD just shrugged and thanked Dwight for the mention but acknowledged he had a long way to go. This kind of class is something that you donʼt see in many players in pro sports these days. Not to mention Durant signed an extension this summer with the Thunder that seems him as their leading man for even long - all while not having to host a one hour television special on ESPN! Did I mention heʼs 22, was the NBA scoring champion last year and was voted by NBA GMʼs as the most likely to land the leagueʼs MVP award this year? Yeah, heʼs that good.

2. The fans - What would thanks be without sending some love to all the people that
pay to sit in the seats on a nightly basis? Whether your team is 82-0 or 0-82 youʼve come out over and over to show your support - unless you live in New Jersey. The NBA fans have made this game so much more than it already is. Being an avid fan myself I find it hard at times to look past my favorite teams and players when trying to write on basketball topics. Itʼs something thatʼs lifted the game to a new level when you talk about the excitement that fans bring in to the building. Wither youʼre in
Toronto or Sacramento, youʼre bound to get a loud rocking crowd on a nightly basis.
Itʼs that which keeps the players grounded, itʼs that which reminds them at the end of
the day this is their job and they do it not only for the love of the game but because
YOU love the game too and want to see it being played at itʼs finest.

1. The game itself - With an impending lockout lurking at the end of this season, fans
need to give thanks to what the NBA has offered so far. The NBA in the past five
years has been the best the game has seen since the Jordan era in Chicago. With
the dynamic rosters set to take the floor this season thereʼs no doubt that every arena in the NBA will be packed and that the ratings will soar through the roof. If youʼre an NBA fan and you want to see the game continue with no lockouts then you need to get out there this year and support your team. As for the league itself, they need to give thanks for the game of basketball and their opportunity to be able to call it their jobs on a nightly basis. LeBron James said it best, “Iʼd still play the game for free because I love it.” Itʼs that love of the game that needs to carry on throughout every mind in the NBA. That Kevin Durant mentality.

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