Thursday, November 4, 2010

first impressions.

So baseball's finally done (congratulations, I guess, San Francisco Giants fans) and football's semi-imploding. Combine these facts with the end of October and the return of the NBA, in the beginning of the most exciting season in our generation, and it's a great cure for any kind of local politics hangover you might have accrued over the last couple days.

Let's start with the basics: the Los Angeles Lakers are the reigning champions and, accordingly, the road to the top should go through them. However, you might have heard - there's a new bully on the block. The Miami Heat pulled off the free agency coup of the last ten years, certainly, maybe even of all time. LeBron James joined forces with Chris Bosh and they traveled down to South Beach to team up with Dwyane Wade.

Of course, many of the pundits were quick to remind those looking to instantly anoint the Heat that the road in the Eastern Conference has long been blocked by the Boston Celtics. Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett re-invented the Big Three concept and might have something to say about the South Beach trio of James, Bosh, and Wade taking their spot.

There's more to look forward to, and more that we've already seen, as well. Blake Griffin should have been the Rookie of the Year last year, and might be this year. John Wall looks like he wants consideration for the award, too. The list of rookies is long and worth more than just a cursory glance.

And, to wrap things up where we began, let's not just assume that the road to the championship is paved with ease for the Lakers. The Oklahoma City Thunder, with their standout star, and possibily-being-stalked up-and-coming Kevin Durant look to seriously challenge. The San Antonio Spurs are always a threat, with their own version of a Big Three, headlined by Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.

The NBA is going to be full of action this year, as most arenas will sell out when the Heat visit and most of those people will be heartily cheering against James, who had a lot of people on his side prior to his move. The Celtics and the Magic look to battle it out in the Eastern Conference, with the Bulls joining those ranks. The Lakers, Thunder and Spurs look pretty mighty in the Western Conference, and there's plenty of teams just waiting for one of the big guns to take a single misstep. Do yourself a favor and tune in to ESPN on Wednesdays and Fridays and TNT on Thursdays. You'll see some of the best basketball in a long time.

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