As the NBA kicks off in less than 24 hours, it has rapidly become the most anticipated season in recent memory all thanks to one sentence: ‘I’m taking my talents to South Beach.’ In one 30 minute poorly thought-out made for TV Free-Agent decision, Lebron James went from being the loved international superstar who gallantly carried the Albatross of the Cleveland Cavaliers on his back to the NBA finals and multiple playoff series victories, to the 6th
most hated man in sports in one recent ESPN survey.
What has been lost in all this hype and hyperbole is that Lebron James is really, really good. A two-time MVP, who gave up millions in endorsements and contract money to play with the best team possible to ensure he would win a championship. Teaming up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, putting three of the top 10 players in the league on the same team and forming a bonafide super power has stoked the fire of even the most casual of fans. Either you love it or hate it, but either way you are intrigued. Can they mesh together? Who will take the last shot of a close game? Whose team is it? Can the supporting cast step up? All eyes are on Miami, and anything short of a championship will be a disappointment.
In all the South Beach hoopla we’ve forgotten about the super power out west, the Lakers. Not only are they the defending NBA champions but they’ve actually gotten better during the off-season. Picking up point guard Steve Blake, and forward Matt Barnes as well as the emergence of Lamar Odom during a spectacular summer campaign with the gold-medal winning USA team, has turned the Laker bench from mediocre to one of the best in the league. If oft-injured Andrew Bynum can stay healthy they should win over 60 games and cruise through the western conference setting up what we all hope is a long awaited showdown with the Miami Heat. A Kobe vs. Lebron clash in the finals to finally decide once and for all who is the greatest player of the post-Jordan era.
The Heat wont have quite the cake walk the Lakers have, partly because they are an unknown quantity but also because the Celtics and Magic remain very strong. And with the emergence of the Chicago Bulls after the acquisition of Carlos Boozer and Derrick Rose entering his career turning 3rd year, there could be a very interesting race for the Eastern Conference crown.
Other intriguing storylines of the 2010-2011 NBA season:
-Rookie Sensation John Wall of the Wizards has the size, speed, vision and scoring ability to be a perennial All-Star but can he co-exist with a focused Gilbert Arenas, who is returning after his suspension for carrying guns into the Verizon Center.
-Will the Clippers’ Blake Griffin finally show his potential after sitting out a season with micro-fracture surgery.
-Will the Mike D’Antonio era finally take off in New York. With the signings of Amare Stoudemire and Raymond Felton a lot is expected in New York.
-Where will Carmelo end up? With his impending free agency, trade talk is swirling around Carmelo Anthony like a tornado, one wonders how long before he’s shipped out of Denver?
-Will the Durantula, Kevin Durant finally move into the top echelon of players, a club that only Kobe and Lebron reside in?
-Will Cleveland sink now that captain Lebron has jumped ship?
The excitement begins now…
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