The Return of the NBA
by Oliver Layco
Sorry for the delay, but the National Basketball Association has returned! Just in the past two weeks much has happened around the League. One of the biggest storylines has to be the consistent dominance of the New York Knicks. They were supposed to start their season and christen the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, but the Hurricane forced the league to postpone that game. That brought to question when either New York based team would play their first home games. Surprisingly, two days after the cancelled game, the Knicks would attempt to hold down the Garden against the reigning champion Miami Heat (more on them later). The Knicks played with poise and confidence in front of an emotional crowd. While some would attribute the Knicks’ play to the crowd’s energy, they remain the NBA’s only perfect team. This has raised a lot of eyebrows because nobody expected them to be that good.
Speaking of the champs, the Heat have looked scary over the past eight games. The two exceptions have been against the Knicks and Memphis Grizzlies. LeBron definitely looks like he’s playing more relaxed now that he has that chip off his shoulder. It also helps that they made some pretty decent off-season acquisitions in Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. In Ray Allen’s case, it was fitting that their first game was against his old team, the Boston Celtics. Also in a weird turn of events, when Ray went to shake the hands of the Celtics, Kevin Garnett gave him the cold shoulder. I hope the Heat slow down at some point in the season, but realistically that probably won’t happen.
As for the rest of the league there has been a fair share of surprises in both Conferences. For one, the Charlotte Bobcats are at 3-3! I know it’s only two weeks into the season, but last year they became the team with the lowest winning percentage ever. The record they have now is impressive. Also, the Chicago Bulls have been playing fairly well for missing their superstar Derrick Rose. It just goes to show what type of team and guys they have over there.
As for the Western Conference, the old reliable San Antonio Spurs have the second best record in the league. Whatever their secret is, whether it’s the fountain of youth or whatever Greg Popovich has going on, it’s working. The Oklahoma City Thunder also made a surprise trade days before the season started. They traded their proven Sixth Man, James Harden, to the Houston Rockets. While they received Kevin Martin and other players in the trade, it definitely took away from what they accomplished these past few years. From what I’ve seen of them, they haven’t missed too much; but we’ll see how they fair in the long run. As for the Rockets and Harden, they’ve developed well really fast into a capable playoff team. Harden is the player that has benefited the most from this trade because he became a starter. Just in the second game of the season he scored a career high 45 points!
Lastly, there are these guys called the Los Angeles Lakers. With arguably the best starting five in the league, they have been a disappointment to say the least through the first five games. They went off to a dismal 1-4 start and before you knew it, they fired their head coach Mike Brown. This was expected, but not this early in the season. (Personally I would have never hired him last year, but that’s beside the point.) This led many to believe that Phil Jackson, the Zen Master, would make his return to the sideline. This looked like it would almost be a perfect reunion with players and fans publicly endorsing the return of the Zen, but management thought otherwise; they opted to bring in Mike D’Antoni who is a good consolation prize. In the meantime before D’Antoni officially joined the team, the Lakers won the next two games before losing in the closing minute to the Spurs. So things are looking up for Kobe, Howard, Pau, Metta, and Nash. However, only time will tell if this grand experiment of Mitch Kupchak and the Buss family will work.