In the National Basketball Association, the rich just keep getting richer. A flurry of transactions rapidly swept across the league, making fans do double takes each time they viewed some of the league’s elite rosters. Is that the Miami Heat or my fantasy basketball team? The 2010-2011 NBA season is bound to be absolutely predictable, yet for some reason I think people are going to watch.
In just one month, the NBA received a facelift. So, let’s get this straight: LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are now on the same team. The two guys who took the most shots in the NBA last year and who are arguably two of the top five perennial players in the league are wearing the same uniform.
Oh yeah, Chris Bosh, one of the best big men in the game will be gathering their rebounds … if they ever miss. Mike Miller, one of the league’s most decorated perimeter shooters, will be wide open when his three dominant teammates somehow struggle to find an open shot. And with virtually no cap space available, the Miami Heat still found a way to lock up role players Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Eddie House, Carlos Arroyo, Juwan Howard and Udonis Haslem to join them on their magic carpet ride to the Eastern Conference Finals.
After losing in a seven-game thriller to the Lakers in the NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics fell five points shy of being crowned champions once again. With the acquisitions of Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal down low, the Celtics are unlikely to kneel to any opponent. With Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett still going strong, expect them to stand in the way of Miami’s dreams in the Eastern Conference.
The Los Angeles Lakers have upgraded their backup point guard position from Jordan Farmar to Steve Blake. They also ushered in a player, with Matt Barnes, who could even give Ron Artest a run for his money in a swagger competition. Hoping to channel Barnes’ bad attitude, the Lakers will look to use his lockdown defense in order to mitigate the league’s elite offensive threats. Along with Barnes and Blake, the Lakers have retained promising athlete Shannon Brown and have brought in aging veteran Theo Ratliff to come off the bench for Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.
They also have Kobe Bryant. If you haven’t noticed, he’s pretty good. In an offseason in which the Heat has shined, it’s still not out of the question for the Lakers to three-peat.
With the way things progressed over the past month, it appears for the other 27 teams in the league that there is no stopping the Heat, Celtics and defending champion Lakers. May God have mercy on the New Jersey Nets’ souls when they are forced to face the Heat. That is like throwing Lindsay Lohan into a hot dog eating competition with Joey Chestnut; it is simply unfair. Fans will sit through blowout after blowout to see if LeBron, Wade and Bosh can each eclipse the 30 point mark while defeating their helpless opponents by double digits. The Heat, Celtics and Lakers are bound to trounce opponents on a nightly basis. However, the monotonous, lack of competition will all be worth it next June when it comes down to the Eastern and Western Conference Finals.
Although the Chicago Bulls made considerable improvements with the additions of Kyle Korver and Carlos Boozer, and Dwight Howard’s Orlando Magic are always formidable opponents, the East will be run by Miami and Boston who look seemingly unstoppable to any team east of the Mississippi. The Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder look sharp in the West, but there’s no stopping Kobe’s crew which made considerable upgrades. As long as the world doesn’t end by next June, expect the Lakers to square off against either the Celtics or the Heat in the finals.
Ultimately, it appears that American sports fans prefer domination to Cinderella stories. We love rivalries. Whether it’s the Lakers versus the Celtics, Kobe versus Shaq, Kobe versus LeBron, Eli Manning versus older brother Peyton Manning, the Patriots versus the Colts or the impending rivalry of Lakers versus Heat, it appears that Americans have more of an affinity for Goliath versus Goliath rather than David versus Goliath.
The impending dominance which is bound to take place in the NBA will create an extraordinarily bi-polar concoction of boredom and excitement. Psychiatric wards throughout the country should be on call in the event that a fan actually sits through a Sacramento Kings versus Cleveland Cavaliers game. With a vacancy created in their starting lineup from LeBron James’ departure, the Cavaliers look just as pathetic as Charles Barkley would look if he attempted to beat Usain Bolt in a footrace. The extreme amount of free agent signings led to a complete upheaval of the balance of the NBA. It does not take a genius to realize that there is no chance for the rest of the mediocre teams to catch up to the league’s top tier franchises next season.
The NBA has three teams in major markets: Miami, Boston and Los Angeles. These three teams possess some of the finest players in the league. Kobe, Gasol, Shaq, Rondo, Garnett, Pierce, Allen, LeBron, Wade, Bosh … all populating just three teams. Ratings will be through the roof next June. In nine months, the mother of all NBA matchups is expected to give birth to one heck-of-an NBA Finals.
The season tips off in October, but it will get real in June. The lack of parity in the NBA will make for one of the most predictable, yet overwhelmingly compelling seasons in sports history.