The Defining Moments of the 2012 NBA Offseason
The whole point of an offseason is not only for teams to make themselves better, but also to give the fans reason to look forward to the upcoming campaign.
As I said yesterday, this summer's NBA offseason was one for the ages; I don't know about all of you, but I'm really excited for the 2012-2013 season. From Dwight Howard becoming a Laker to seeing some fine rookies taken in the draft, fans should prepare themselves for a fun year.
However, with such a busy and productive offseason, what moments will stay with us forever? Though it's been two years, fans still recall and talk about where they were the night LeBron James made his infamous decision. Some years down the road, people may very well do the same thing with the Dwight Howard trade.
Long story short, the 2012 NBA offseason had tons of defining moments, and to pick one is simply impossible. Rather, the best of the best should be noted and discussed because this summer was just that epic.
The 2012 NBA Draft
The NBA draft is an event that we look forward to each year, as the nation's best college players and the world's finest international stars gather together with the hope that any of the NBA's teams will make them a part of the future.
This year's draft class was phenomenal from top to bottom, with Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis (pictured) being selected first overall by the New Orleans Hornets. Interestingly, Davis is the fifth freshman in the past six drafts to be taken first overall, joining the likes of Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving and John Wall.
After Davis was taken, more talented youngsters like Florida's Bradley Beal, Kansas' Thomas Robinson and Kentucky's Terrence Jones found themselves in the league. Considering how last year's draft pool was pretty dry in terms of phenomenal talent, this year's class more than made up for it, as each player selected could easily go on to be successful in his own right.
The college basketball season hasn't begun yet, but one thing is certain: NBA fans love the draft regardless of whether their team makes a big impact in it. The fact that they look forward to it every year is astounding in itself.
The New-Look Knicks
As a fan of the New York Knicks, I can tell you that most offseasons have left me and my fellow fans dreading the start of the new season. This year, however, things have changed.
Normally the definition of bad management, the Knicks went into this offseason with one goal: build a winning team. That said, instead of throwing all of the team's available money at big-name free agents like Steve Nash and Ray Allen, GM Glen Grunwald instead focused on creating depth.
First, he re-signed shooters J.R. Smith and Steve Novak. Then, to shore up the bench and defense and to add some leadership, he brought in veterans Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby (both pictured).
His biggest decision, however, came in letting upstart point guard Jeremy Lin leave for the Houston Rockets so that the Knicks would not incur a major luxury-tax penalty. Instead, he brought in Raymond Felton to run the point.
Seeing as how good the team now looks on paper, Knicks fans can now say something that they haven't been able to say for almost a decade: "We're looking forward to the season."
Jeremy Lin Heads to Houston but Pines for New York
For most of the free-agency season, it looked as though the New York Knicks would bring back Jeremy Lin to be the starting point guard.
Even Knicks coach Mike Woodson said the Harvard grad and restricted free agent would return because under the current CBA, teams may match any offers made to their restricted free agents thanks to the Gilbert Arenas Rule.
However, the Houston Rockets made Lin an offer that scared the Knicks off. The deal they drew up was for three years and worth $25.1 million, with the final year of the deal carrying a salary of $14.9 million, known as a "poison pill." When the dust settled, Lin was the newest member of the Houston Rockets.
Yet after the deal was final, Lin publicly brought an interesting fact to light. Though he was excited to be in Houston, he claimed, his first preference was to remain with the Knicks. Nothing against Lin, but that isn't really the best way to win over your new team's fans!
The Nets' Big Move
Nets coach Avery Johnson (pictured) had a lot to smile about this summer as his team made the long-anticipated move from New Jersey to Brooklyn. Even better, the Nets have a great core group that could easily make them playoff contenders in 2012-13.
In order to convince free-agent point guard Deron Williams to re-sign with the team, GM Billy King pulled off an incredible trade for star shooting guard Joe Johnson, formerly of the Atlanta Hawks.
King was also able to re-sign rebounding machine Kris Humphries and key contributors Brook Lopez and Gerald Wallace. Second-year man MarShon Brooks could also very well be one of the league's most talented bench players next season.
Long story short, the Nets did just what they had to do to make their big move worthwhile. With a fancy new arena awaiting them and a tougher Eastern Conference taking shape for next season, their roster is just what it needs to be for their inaugural season in New York.
Carmelo Anthony's Bold Statement
The 2012 NBA Finals will go down in history, as the Miami Heat beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games and thus gave reigning MVP LeBron James his first championship ring.
However, while we could go on and on about how last year's win could be the first of many for the former No. 1 pick, let's instead turn to the comments made by New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony shortly afterward.
Anthony gave James his due credit but also made a point of saying that he should not be ignored. In fact, his words say it all: "My time is coming."
The former Syracuse star has a great chance of making his championship wishes come true this season, as the Knicks are a deeper and better-rounded team than they have been in years.
However, he may have also put a target on his back. If he thinks that James and the Heat are going to give up that Larry O'Brien Trophy easily, he'll be in for a surprise.
Either way, his words this offseason have added some spice to the 2012-13 season stew.
Dwight Howard Traded to Lakers
The Dwight Howard trade saga started last December, shortly after the lockout ended. The three-time Defensive Player of the Year, then of the Orlando Magic, stated his desire to be traded to the then-New Jersey Nets, but the sides couldn't come to terms.
This summer, he reiterated his wish to new GM Rob Hennigan. Yet the Nets then signed Brook Lopez to a max-level deal, so Howard's wish effectively died.
At that point, teams like the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers got involved, with Houston even amnestying fan favorite Luis Scola just to clear cap space for Howard. However, trade talks died down once again.
Then, about three weeks ago , it was announced that Howard would be sent to the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-team deal that saw Andrew Bynum head to the Philadelphia 76ers, Andre Iguodala to the Denver Nuggets and Arron Afflalo to the Magic. In an instant, the Lakers became one of the most dangerous teams in the league.
Still, though this was definitely a defining moment of the offseason, one event topped it...
Team USA Wins Olympic Gold
The NBA is full of rivalries, be it those between players or certain teams. Yet when the Olympics roll around and rivals are representing their home country, all animosity goes out the window.
Thus, though LeBron James basically took Kevin Durant to school in the NBA Finals, it was great to see them work together in London to help bring home a gold medal for Team USA.
Even greater about this year's Olympics was that it was the 20th anniversary of the 1992 Dream Team, which won the gold medal in Barcelona. All comparisons aside, the entire United States of America seemed to rally behind this team regardless of what NBA team they cheered for.
The fact of the matter is that when push comes to shove, national pride trumps all, even if it does mean cheering for a Boston Celtic, Los Angeles Laker or whichever team one may hate the most.
This year's Olympics was simply incredible, and when the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro start, I can only hope that a team as unified and talented as the one that just won gold represents the USA.
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