Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook have led the Thunder to the top of the Western Conference.
The NBA regular season is rapidly nearing its' conclusion. The second season, the playoffs, are going to start soon.
The playoffs always provide for a long list of memorable moments and fantastic plot twists. So many, in fact, that it's easy to forget some of the more important moments and events of the regular season. No truly dominant team has emerged this season, so many critical moments may have involved not great teams.
This season did have it's share of big events. The first and arguably most important one came before the first ball was even tipped off. Here's a rundown of some of the most critical.
Leader of the Players Union Billy Hunter and Commissioner David Stern are all smiles.
This wasn't just the defining moment of the this season. It was a moment that may have insured many future NBA seasons as well.
After a labor standoff that stretched from just after the conclusion of the NBA Finals in 2011, on into the preseason and eventually into the regular season, labor peace was finally attained on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
Without this deal being struck, there very well may have been no NBA season this year and future seasons would have been jeopardized as well.
Clippers Head Coach Vinnie Del Negro is all smiles after acquiring Chris Paul.
Chris Paul was traded to Los Angeles, then returned to New Orleans and was then traded back to Los Angeles less than a week later. Does that make sense?
It's okay, it was a bit confusing to everyone involved as well.
On December 8th, the city of Los Angeles was abuzz. The Los Angeles Angels had started off the drama that morning by announcing the free agent signings of Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. Later that day, there was more news. The Los Angeles Lakers were going to acquire Chris Paul as part of a three-team trade.
The Lakers would have shipped off Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol, and they would have received Chris Paul. New Orleans and Houston were going to swap big names as well. I'd go over all the details of the deal except it never happened. In a shocking move, NBA Commissioner David Stern vetoed the deal less than 24 hours after it had ostensibly been completed.
Vetoing the trade caused more chaos than the trade ever would have, according to ESPN. For one, it set the stage for several personnel issues that would linger throughout the season.
Lamar Odom was emotionally scarred by the thought of being dealt by the Lakers, so naturally he demanded a trade (via Fox Sports). Los Angeles had no problem following through on that and shipped him off to Dallas, where Odom pouted and sulked his way onto the bench and eventually onto the inactive list, which is where he now resides.
Less than a week later, Paul was on his way to Los Angles again. Except this time he had been traded to the Clippers. This deal would not be voided and the far reaching impact is still being felt today.
Fallout From the Paul-to-the-Clippers deal
The Clippers are really good. They're battling to win the Pacific Division right down to the wire. Paul will get some MVP Votes.
The Lakers were cast into a tumultuous season that they still haven't 100 percent recovered from.
The Lakers still needed a point guard, so they dealt for Ramon Sessions on trade deadline day. They also shipped veteran leader Derek Fisher off to Houston. Those deals don't happen with Paul wearing purple and gold.
The Chris Paul trades defined several entire teams for the duration of the 2011-2012 season.
Lin knives through the Lakers' defense for two of his 38 points.
When Jeremy Lin awoke on the morning of February 10th, 2012 he was already a sensation in New York City, and he was rapidly gaining notoriety around beyond New York City as well.
Inserted into the starting lineup just two games before, Lin had the Knicks on a mini three-game wining streak. Beating the likes of New Jersey, Washington and Utah was one thing, but that night's opponent was the Los Angeles Lakers.
Surely the Lakers wouldn't allow an unproved former D-League player to lead an inferior Knicks team to a win over them?
Lin shot and slashed his way to a game high 38 points and the Knicks went on to beat the Lakers by a score of 92-85. "Linsanity" was born, and it would dominate the headlines for the next few weeks.
After all the drama Dwight Howard remained in Orlando.
This was supposed to be the year. This was going to be the season when he was finally dealt from Orlando to...?
Los Angeles, Dallas, New Jersey, Chicago? Where would Dwight land? After all, he was going to leave, wasn't he?
On the morning of March 15th, 2011 Howard took the microphone at a press conference and announced that he would sign his one-year player option contract extension and remain a member of the Orlando Magic through this season, into next season and quite possibly beyond (via the Huffington Post).
Only 24 hours earlier Howard had told the press that he would not sign that extension.
Howard had his teammates, management and the entire rest of the league hanging on his every word. If his plan was to avoid attention and not cause a stir, then he failed, But if his goal was to spur harsh criticism while creating lots of off-court drama, then Howard nailed it.