A retraction about NBA Action
Okay, I apologize.
I’ve only watched the first half of the All-Star game (taped, to be viewed later). And even though I ranted just yesterday on the downfall of basketball and the All-Star game’s contribution to the end of team dynamics, I have to admit, the All-Star game this year was, well, pretty damn good.
I think we’re seeing a sort of renaissance in the NBA. For ten years, we were subjected to a defense battle every game, where teams like the Heat and Knicks, and later on, the Nets and Spurs, would play a slow down game, dragging every possession out and forcing the opposing team to win with jump shots and free throws, daring them to come inside where they would, ultimately, get pounded. Teams like the 2001-2 Mavs were hard to find, and when you could find them, you would see them get bounced in the first round of the playoffs, unable to compete with the defense that had become the leagues hallmark.
Now, however, we have teams that can score, the game has been opened up, and the “team” concept is back. The Phoenix Suns and Seattle Sonics, and even the aforementioned Miami Heat, are playing a wide open game. Even Jeff Van Gundy, former Knicks coach and current Houston Rockets leader has had to reform his game plan to compete a league that is based on, of all things, scoring.
I think, for whatever reason, I’m a little slow in realizing how much better the NBA game has become. When I watched the All-Star game last night, or at least the first half of it, I saw players, like Allen Iverson and Shawn Marion, who I had previously seen as overrated and selfish, playing some great team basketball with people they have rarely played with before. This All-Star game celebrated the “team,” rewarding some great all-time team players with spots on the team – Manu Ginobli, Antawn Jamison, Rashard Lewis, and, perhaps, the greatest team player, in my eyes, Steve Nash.
All in all, I was surprised and incredibly optimistic about the NBA’s future when I watched the game last night. I even liked Vince Carter, a player who admittedly dogged it while in Toronto, but now is playing as if he’s 5 years younger in New Jersey.
It seems as if the NBA has finally taken the actions needed to finally bring it’s desire for individual superstars and it’s dependency on fast-break team play together. In fact, since the Malice at Auburn Hills (which is a pretty sore subject in my Pacers-driven mind) I think basketball is on par with that 1988 All-Star game I had eluded to yesterday.
Jeez… I might even be able to say… basketball is fun to watch again.