For once in my short life of watching sports, the NBA playoffs this year have been exciting for me for several reasons.
First, players are finally playing with some passion. Before these playoffs, I had always considered the NBA the Nothing But Attitude league. I've claimed that no one in the NBA plays defense (and that means you Denver Nuggets), that all the players whine too much, and that all you have to do to make it in the NBA is to be a good athlete.
Some of these stereotypes are still true, such as the Denver Nuggets playing defense as if you have to have a college degree to do it (sorry Carmelo), and some of the players whine to much, especially those players that have mastered the flop.
Those players are the ultimate whiners because they fake getting serious contact, and then complain when the official is actually smart and doesn't believe it.
There are also those players that I don't consider real basketball players, and that they are just good athletes such as J.R. Smith and Tyson Chandler. This might come off as harsh, but being a former player of the game of basketball, just because you can touch the top of the backboard doesn't mean you're a good player.
The really good players are those that have no real outstanding athleticism but are still good anyway, such as Larry Bird or George "Iceman" Gervin and other legends of the game.
I'm not saying that Chandler or Smith are bad, I'm just saying I wouldn't ever consider them great players. I mean, I could dunk all the time and block shots too if I were 7 ft. tall!
I'm not saying either that all NBA players can't be good and be good athletes either, like Lebron James. I'm more talking about the lazy players.
Anyway, what makes these playoffs so fun to watch is the opposite of what I used to think happens, is happening. Players are playing with passion, such as Kobe and Lamar Odom in the west, and Lebron, K-G, and Tayshawn Prince in the east.
When players actually care about the outcome of the game instead of how much their being paid afterwards, that's when everyone watches. The playoffs are also showcasing some of the players that you would not expect to dominate to do so.
Who thought Peja Stojakovic would be huge in Games One and Two against the best defensive team in the league—the Spurs? Nobody.
And what makes his efforts better is that he's not jumping so high his head goes above the rim, but he's waiting for his opportunities and taking them.
The best team that does this is the Detroit Pistons. If you look at their roster, you don't see a superstar, but you see a super team. Finally, the NBA playoffs have been a story of defense. It may be ugly to the casual fan, but for a real basketball fan, it's a beautiful sight.
Nothing gets the heart rate going like a good, old-fashioned one-on-one showdown that is won by the defender, and then leads to a wide-open dunk on the other end.
That is why this year's playoffs have been the only recent playoffs that have been exciting.