This time last year, who knew that the Lakers would crawl into the playoffs and the Mavericks would miss them all together? James Hardin would be a borderline superstar for while playing for the Rockets. A kid from Weber State would be the rookie of the year. Andrew Bynum would be more famous for dunking his head in hair products than dunking basketballs. And that the Bobcats would yet again, be one of the worst teams in the NBA....Well, that last one was kinda obvious. Yep, 12-13 was a season filled with surprises. Now that the regular season has concluded, join us as we take a look at some of the highlights (and lowlights) from basketball's biggest stage.
Let’s start with the biggest flop in all of Hollywood. No, I don't mean Scary Movie 5. I'm talking about the LA Lakers. They kicked things off with the biggest trade we've seen in the NBA in years. The Lakers managed to rid themselves of one locker room cancer in Bynum, and traded him for the slightly less cancerous yet doubly distracting Dwight Howard. Pretty much everyone (myself included) had the Lakers in the Finals after the deal was struck.
Let us pause for an overly dramatic recap of the Lakers season.
Throughout the planet, there was great weeping and gnashing of teeth. The birds fell silent. Dogs bayed and howled into the air. A purple mist hung low in the sky, blocking out the sun. Darkness stretched across the land as the low pounding war drums of the Laker army could be heard approaching slowly in the distance. The hour of destruction was upon us. And then suddenly; there was hope in the form of a 1-4 record at the start of the season. Shortly after came the firing of Mike Brown. The purple clouds parted, as the sun once again pierced through and shinned down on the depleted earth. Up springing buds of Hope and Faith from the soil. Mike D'Antoni was hired. The world rejoiced! For we knew, that the coming of D'Antoni could only lead to future post season failure for the Lakers. Dwight unhappy, Kobe unhappy, Pau unhappy, Nash wondering around in a fog, Metta World Peace being all Metta World Peace-y. All was right; justice and goodness prevailed over ruthless oppression. The Laker hoard are still alive, but they lay battered, bloodied, and bruised. With their tyrannical leader Black Mamba suffering a severe injury, the Lakers must limp forward across the battlefield. Charging headfirst in certain death. Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs ride into battle mounted upon white horses. A truly symbolic end is near. The Spurs represent everything the Lakers are not. A team forged by skillful management rather that bags of gold coin. Soon we shall witness the Lakers mercifully put out of their misery. The world will breathe a collective sigh of relief as righteousness will reign supreme.
Mother of God.
Just before the season, Oklahoma City must have felt that two was company and three was a crowd. Durant and Westbrook saw their bearded brethren shipped out to Houston in exchange for the services of Kevin Martin. Shocking at first, but understandable. They just paid Serge Ibaka, and already had big money tied up with Durant and Westbrook. Harden went on to prove that he was worthy the max deal he was seeking. I didn't think he'd be as good carrying a franchise as he would be coming off the bench and playing against opposing teams second units. James Harden is 1st in FTA, 5th in PPG, 11th in PER, and 1st in FHE (Facial Hair Efficiency). Overall the Rockets had a pretty decent season. They've got a young group that seems to be playing very well together. Jeremy Lin has settled down in to a decent middle of the pack point guard. Omer Asik is third in the NBA in rebounds. And Chandler Parsons did a good Jeff Green impersonation from time to time. Kevin McHale knows what his team is, and never tried to over think the offense. The Rockets ran a fast paced style that only slowed down enough to let Harden get his shots in the half court. A nice turn around in Clutch City that appears to be heading in the right direction. Now lets hope the front office doesn’t pull a Mark Cuban and screw up the team right when everything is going perfect for them. YEAH I’M STILL PISSED.
Oohhhhh, Someone's playing footsie!!!!
Is it weird that I feel kind of bad for Kevin Durant? I mean, yeah, he's in his mid twenties, makes millions of dollars for 6 months worth of work, and is adorn by fans all over the globe. But here he is, capping off his best season ever as a pro. And statistically one of the best ever (50/40/90). The Thunder are the best team in the Western Conference. He's doing everything that a young superstar should be doing. Yet all we can take about is Lebron James. Even Lebron's harshest of critics (myself included) have been SMH-ing all year long at Bron’s box score barrages. KD is putting up numbers so good that only 5 other people have done the same in NBA history. FIVE. EVER…. It doesn’t matter though because Lebron's team just won 27 games in a row. Durant is the youngest scoring champion ever? Well Lebron went six games without committing a foul. Oh Durant grew solid gold wings on his back and then flew to the moon? I guess that’s cool. But did you check out that Harlem Shake video the Miami Heat just did? Kevin is spot welded to Lebron's shadow for the next 4-5 years the way I see it. It’s like having an older brother who's winning at life, and no matter that you do, you can never be better than him. Lebron is Alec Baldwin, and Durant is William. He was in the Flintstones movie. No, that’s Stephen Baldwin. I think William was in Backdraft. Sorry KD...
"Hey man, what the hell? They gave you platinum!?!"
Speaking of Lebron. He won. He won basketball. He won sports. He won. This is the Lebron the world has been waiting for. Back in 2003 we were told he could possibly be the greatest player ever. And I by NO MEANS am I saying that he’s there already. But I can see him trending in that direction if he continues this level of play. He made us forget that Dwayne Wade was also having an awesome season. He made us forget that Chris Bosh was a person. During the 27 game winning streak I felt that it could have gone all the way to 35. The Heat just had that kind of feel to them. Like nothing could slow them down. Every night someone stepped up to make big plays when needed. Even when they were down late in games you knew that SOMETHING was going to go in Miami's favor. When the Chicago Bulls shut it down I was a little…sad. I felt like I had a chance to witness history. Instead I got to see Nate Robinson walk around talking trash and flexing to the crowd.
Some things never change.
This year we saw Brooklyn welcome its first professional sports franchise since 1957. That was the same year the first electric portable typewriter went on sale. Jay-Z proved that only in America, can a person sell drugs in his community, later rap about selling drugs in his community, go on to be part owner of a sports team in said community, and then on opening night of a billion dollar arena, host a concert honoring the community in which you used to sell drugs in. Cray.
But Sean Carter was merely a minority owner. They real mastermind is Mikhail Prokhorov. This Russian Mark Cuban has ensured the Nets would wallow in salary tax hell for the foreseeable future all for the sake of building a mediocre playoff team. Wouldn't it have been easier to just buy the Hawks a few years ago and move them up north? Atlanta wouldn't miss them. And the Nets are every bit as average as the last 5 or 6 Hawks teams.
Hard to place all the blame on the owner. Billy King might be to worst GM in sports. He traded their 2012 draft pick which ending up being the rookie of the year, for Gerald Wallace. He then signed Wallace to a 4 year, $40 million dollar deal. Wallace responded by averaging a snooze educing 7.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.6 assist. All while shooting less than 40% from the field and less than 65% from the free throw line. It’s a microcosm of the Nets season. A lot of money for not much production. Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, the new arena. Everything looked good on the surface, but the Nets are the basketball version of the City of Qarth (Game of Thrones anyone?) After a 14-14 start, they threw Avery "Lil General" Johnson into the brig. And promoted PJ Carlesimo to head coach. It didn't really matter because at times they still run the same plays that Avery ran back in his Dallas days....And most of them sucked.
"Coach, those are just crudely drawn pictures of bunnies"
While Miami, OKC, and San Antonio were duking it out for top spot on the NBA totem pole. Orlando and Charlotte were fighting for the title of worst team in the league. The Bob kittens were next to last in opponent points per game, and had a defensive rating of 111.5 which put them dead last. Their offensive rating was 101.5 which was good for 28th in the NBA. Maybe that had something to do with the fact that they were last in both total assist and field goal percentage. "Selfishly sucky" is a term I like to use. But for all their "efforts", they were not the worst team in the NBA. The Orlando Magic won just 20 games this season. They had an offensive rating ranked 27th and a defensive rating ranked 25th. The Magic had two double digit losing streaks of 10 and 12 games respectively. And they had a game in which they only scored 61 points. Oh, annnnnd Hedo Turkoglu got popped for performance enhancing drugs. (Not a typo) The Magic were so bad that long time guard JJ Redick was seen doing cartwheels out the door when he was traded to Milwaukee. What makes it worse is that even if one of these teams lands Nerlens Noel with the first pick in the draft, he'll be peeling out of there on his way to Los Angeles the first chance he gets. But by then, instead of being an awkward kid with very little muscle and even less offensive skills. He'll be stepping into his prime years, perfectly groomed to help someone else win a championship. I love the NBA.
"And then coach said...Play hard until the final buzzer"