Every season certain stories and events stand out, which ultimately wind up symbolizing the season. 2010 is no different, whether it has been teams excelling or tanking, players finding new teams, or players finding new ways to find trouble.
This year, I think of Jamal Crawford playing the best basketball of his career, coming off the bench on a legitimate contender.
I think of Rasheed Wallace pretty much being a disappointment for Boston.
I think of the 76ers, along with other teams, not improving one bit.
I think of LeBron James steamrolling through the league in his contract year. Maybe the first unanimous MVP choice of all time.
The list goes on and on. I had to pick my favorites, which was difficult.
It looks like a LeBron and Kobe Finals showdown in year. Then again, that's the beauty of sports, nothing ever ends up as expected. Here are this years most intriguing storylines.
I watched the Washington Wizards franchise get decimated by the stupid and arrogant decision of their $111 million dollar franchise player.
I was disgusted beyond belief, especially since I was a Gilbert Arenas fan. I was a fan since he was a second rounder and nobody expected him to be the superstar that he WAS.
I can think of so many athletes who have made questionable decisions. But for most of them I can think of a semi-valid reason for doing for what they did.
Ron Artest started the worst brawl in league history AFTER he was hit in the face with a full cup of beer. Understandable...sort of.
Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg. Maybe he thought he needed protection out at the club. Understandable...sort of.
With Gilbert, there is no defense. What protection do you need in a locker room, where the average person can't get past security? There's no excuse besides being a showoff. It infuriates me because, not only was his penalty light compared to others, he gets to keep his contract. So much for being held responsible for your actions.
He destroyed the franchise that was supposed to be built around him. There were no consequences for his actions. Let's see how he rebounds, besides passing and shooting. Okay, that was a bad joke.
Hedo Turkoglu has to be the single most disappointing free agent signing since Elton Brand.
I was weary of this signing from the beginning.
It looked great on paper; pairing him with Andrea Bargnani and Chris Bosh on the front line. The Raptors made the effort to surround Bosh with talent so he would be enticed to resign. Unfortunately, it takes more than talent to build a team.
Ignoring his mediocre statistics, injuries, chemistry, and lackadaisical play, I questioned Turkoglu's character when he left the Magic. He left a team who went to the Finals and came to a team who had missed the playoffs. That says a lot to how important winning is to him. And the Magic were willing to pay the luxury tax to get him.
He wanted to leave and he got his wish, as well as his money. The grass always looks greener on the other side. The Magic got Vince and rolled on, while Turkoglu and Toronto slowly went down the drain.
The Knicks don't look that bad to Chris Bosh now, huh?
The Mavericks went out in the offseason and signed Shawn Marion and Drew Gooden with the intentions of toughening up and giving Dirk Nowitzki some suitable front court mates.
I can't say enough about this trade.
Josh Howard wore out his welcome, and everyone else was just running in place. Gilbert Arenas might be the only player to have a statue erected for a team he didn't play for.
His stupidity gave Dallas the best gift they've gotten since the No. 9 pick in the draft a few years ago, when they traded Robert "Tractor" Traylor for Mr. Nowitzki.
Finally, toughness was bought in and the "D" was put back in Dallas.
Caron Butler offers Dirk something that he's never had before; a tough minded player whose specialty is the mid range game and defense. Besides, Butler's toughness has never been questioned.
Also, DeShawn Stevenson and Brendan Haywood are tough role players, players with defensive prowess, something else Dirk has never had. Besides Jason Terry, Dirk has never had a reliable teammate whose style of play doesn't change according to the opponent.
In 2010, the Mavericks finally got it right. Let's see what the playoffs bring. I think they'll be a lot of surprises this year. Put Dallas in the same category as Denver as far as teams who have a realistic shot at beating the Lakers.
Oklahoma City is definitely the biggest positive surprise of the year.
Some teams improved, but not so dramatically or so quickly. The Thunder definitely have the talent to get out of the first round of the playoffs. Besides, all the playoff teams in the Western Conference are 50 win teams.
Kevin Durant alone has vaulted himself into the superstar category. He is a couple of good playoff series from being in the elite class of D-Wade, Kobe, LeBron, and as of last year's playoffs, Melo. In a sense...one named players.
Russell Westbrook is growing into his role as a point guard, and Jeff Green and Nick Collison are great role players to surround the "Durantula."
This team is a veteran or two away from being a title contender. Youth is their biggest strength...and weakness...for now.
I never understood this acquisition from the beginning.
The Lakers decided to bring the defensive stopper, Ron Artest, to a team that certainly wasn't renowned for its defense.
For some reason certain people were comparing these Lakers with the 72-win Bulls team from 1996. Please.
In his last few years Ron Artest has shot a 40 percent in both FG's and 3FG's. However, his impact was made primarily on defense.
I didn't see the fit with the Lakers. Trevor Ariza pretty much switched spots with him.
Ron Artest's impact really wont be able to be judged until the playoffs begin where he has to go against guys like Kevin Durant and Brandon Roy.
Until then, it's a stalemate. For now. Ron Ron doesn't improve them in the regular season. At all. Let's see what happens.
The Grizzlies rung in the off-season by acquiring a has-been superstar in Allen Iverson. A guy who I thought was given a bad rap in Detroit.
But in his first game, he definitely earned his selfish label by complaining about playing time. I guess he thought he'd come to a young team with a bad record and would get free reign on offense. The problem was their younger talent wasn't worth sacrificing just to prove A.I.'s fifteen minutes of fame weren't up.
Zach Randolph, who was labeled as a locker room chemistry murderer, is playing the best ball of his career on a winning team, for a change.
Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo are perfect complementary wing players, and Marc Gasol isn't just labeled as Pau's younger brother anymore.
Even Mike Conley is showing signs of improvement.
Memphis is relevant again, and they're still in playoff contention....for now. Improvement has been made even without that superstar they signed to fill the seats.
The sad thing about Memphis is that even now that they are winning, they still can't sell tickets. Because of that, I don't know if this great core of youth in Memphis will be around much longer.
At the beginning of the season, we wondered how the Houston Rockets would do with all the questions they had.
From replacing Ron Artest with Trevor Ariza to not having Yao for the full season, as well as wondering if Tracy "Mr. Breakdown" Grady would even be able to play, we expected them to flounder.
On the contrary. While Ariza had been somewhat of a disappointment, as far as shooting percentages goes, Rick Adelman has gotten the best out of his limited roster.
Aaron Brooks and Luis Scola are having career defining years, and at the trade deadline they improved their team even more by acquiring Kevin Martin, as well as former Knicks Jared Jeffries and Jordan Hill.
Whether they make the playoffs or not, the Rockets season was a success. They have stayed in the playoff race with no All-Stars.
To begin, I always thought Scott Skiles was an excellent coach.
There aren't too many guards that I've watched play who maximized limited talent like Skiles. We knew he wouldn't take any crap, and would mold this young team to be tough and hard working, just like he was when he was a player.
To top it off, he gets to coach a rookie point guard with an explosive offensive game. He gets to teach him the other skills that make point guards good, which will only enhance Brandon Jennings' game.
Also the development of Andrew Bogut, along with the trade for John Salmons really made this team take off.
Lets not forget that this was all done without their franchise player, Michael Redd. If he comes back healthy next year and can fit into the offense and develop with this team, look for Milwaukee to be like the Atlanta Hawks in a few years, a team loaded with talent and youth.
A team on the cusp of greatness.
When Donnie Walsh chose Mike D'Antoni as head coach for the Knicks, I thought it was a mistake from the very beginning.
Here, Walsh bought in a guy with a loose approach to coaching, emphasizing quick shots and no defense. It was exactly what the Knicks did not need. The Knicks simply lacked the talent to hire an undisciplined coach.
From lying about giving Stephon Marbury and Eddy Curry a fair chance, to his ridiculous insistence of playing Jared Jeffries, D'Antoni's tenure has been flooded with questionable decisions and facetious statements.
Like one writer said when D'Antoni said he doesn't play "bad rookies"...he just plays "bad veterans." So true. Surely he shouldn't have said that about Jordan Hill, since we know he had a hand in drafting him.
Also, his constant fluctuations in the rotations just caused confusion. From Nate Robinson, to Chris Duhon, to Larry Highes, to Toney Douglas, nobody knew if or when they were playing.
That's a great way to build team chemistry. The perfect way to lure LeBron or a star here.
A team that doesn't know up from down and can't trust the coach. No improvement at all. It's time for this guy to take his Euroball crap back to Europe.
With a ton of hype surrounding Blake Griffin and other high round draft picks, it baffles me how all the rookies who are making an impact for their teams have been the lower picks.
The top three picks in the draft (Griffin, Hasheem Thabeet and Ricky Rubio) have had absolutely no impact. None. The rookies who have had an impact are lower picked rookies, Tyreke Evans, Stephen Curry and Brandon Jennings.
In the beginning it was all about Brandon Jennings.
He was a bench player in Italy, so for him to be a full-fledged starter was amazing. Especially scoring 55 points in his tenth game.
Then he hit the so called "wall."
Then Tyreke Evans took over, and once he evened off, Stephen Curry took the league by storm.
Also several other rookies have made an impact from Johnny Flynn to Darren Collison to Marcus Thornton.
It just goes to show that the best players, or should I say, the most impactful players are not always the ones we expect. The cream of the crop is NOT always at the top.
I thought that Allen Iverson received a lot of unwarranted criticism when he was traded to Detroit in 2009.
It was a bad fit from the start since the Pistons were built on sharing the ball, something Iverson was not known for. Iverson tried to fit in, but it was like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
In 2010, he went to Memphis, who he figured he'd get to lead, since they were a young team who hadn't won anything before.
He didn't get the star treatment he wanted, so he left, and Memphis did great. Their only problem was they played out West. After he had no choice, he went back to Philadelphia, to a team who is one of the biggest disappointments ever, housing two players (Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand) making $80 plus million in their combined contracts.
Currently Iverson is on a leave of absence taking care of his sick daughter. I believe he used her as a way out, since his return hasn't been what he envisioned.
The days of guys taking 30-plus shots a game and shooting a low field goal percentage are over. His crossover doesn't break ankles like they used to. The game has changed and left Iverson and his ego in the dust.