Following a defiant seventh-round knockout of previously unbeaten Jose Pedraza (22-1, 12...
The Future Looks Bright For The NBA
PHILADELPHIA–Itï¿½s funny how fast things change sometimes. Right now, it may seem like eons ago, however, the NBA has undergone a vast ï¿½ and comprehensive ï¿½ change from the selfish, me-first, one-on-one style, that plagued the league less than a decade ago to the ï¿½new,ï¿½ team-oriented style recently ï¿½popularizedï¿½ recently by the Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs, that is eerily reminiscent to the style of basketball that was being played by nearly every team in the league two decades ago.
As a matter of fact, not only was the style of play absolutely atrocious during this era, but the NBA was also receiving public relations black eyes on a semi-regular basis because of the almost constant negative headlines many of the leagueï¿½s players were drawing all over the country with their respective off-court acts of insanity.
From the entire Portland ï¿½Jailblazersï¿½ï¿½ constant mess, to the other numerous off-court incidents, the NBA was a league failing miserably to make the transition from the ï¿½Jordanï¿½ era to the ï¿½new milleniuumï¿½ era.
Not only was the league littered with head cases like perennial poster boys, Rasheed Wallace, Shawn Kemp and Latrell Sprewell, but the style of play on-court had become tainted as well. No longer were the games, free flowing, motion-oriented, duels orchestrated by a multitude of majestic maestros – the game had become an unbearable exercise in watching selfishness at its very best. The fastbreak had become a thing of the past as teams routinely participated in defensive-dominated, poor-shooting contests that usually featured each teamï¿½s best players going one-on-one with their respective defender guarding them while the rest of the players on the floor stood around like mannequins in a Macyï¿½s store front window.
Even a devout basketball lifer like myself, who grew up on the outstanding teams of the early 70s and 80s, was having a hard time watching the widespread changes taking place both on the court ï¿½ and ï¿½ off, across the NBA.
To be blunt about it, I got tired of watching teams like the Philadelphia Sixers come down the floor and throw the ball to Allen Iverson every single time and clear an entire side of the floor for him to operate (oh wait, they still do that) while taking his requisite 30 shots a game.
I also got tired of watching whining crybabies with half the talent of a Bill Russell or Wilt Chamberlain, making ten times the amount those guys ever did – complain all the way to the bank about everything under the sun except global warming.
However, I can unequivocally say, that it appears those days are finally in the rearview mirror as the NBA heads further into the new millennium with an outlook and future that appears to be as bright as its ever been in the entire history of the league.
And speaking of rearview mirrors, how much did the Miami Heatï¿½s ï¿½ and more specifically ï¿½ Dwayne Wadeï¿½s, championship victory, do to further cement the fact that the league is going to be in more-than-capable hands for the next decade or so?
Just look around the league right now. Not only is Wade going to be in Miami for at least the next decade, but thereï¿½s also LeBron James in Cleveland and Carmelo Anthony in Denver, not to mention the fact that reigning Rookie of the Year, Chris Paul, looks like a budding all-star in New Orleans and Raymond Felton looks like the real deal in Charlotte as well.
Oh, did I mention Amare Stoudemire in Phoenix, Kirk Heinrich and Ben Gordon in Chicago or Channing Frye and Nate Robinson in New York? Okay, I know those two are the Knicks only real players on the entire roster, but you get the point.
Okay, okay, Iï¿½ll go one step further and mention the names of my favorite player right now, Steve Nash and head coach Mike Dï¿½Antoni as well. Were it not for their immense contributions the last two seasons, we may still be under the belief that the fastbreak is a thing of the past.
The point is, after several tumultuous years, it would appear that the NBA has bounced back better than a 1970s ï¿½super ballï¿½ – and that is something all hoops fans should be thankful for.