We all know the projected hype surrounding 2012 thanks to an unpopular film with the same title.
Apparently the Volcanoes erupt, the tectonic plates collide, the Oceans enfold our lands, and well that's all for humanity. As silly as this must sound to you, it got me wondering if the Mayans were really just talking about the possible destruction of Basketball as we know it.
There are many trends and questionable directions the NBA is heading in at the moment. Volatile pairings and threats of extinction are just some of the concerns facing the league in the immediate future, and David Stern is going to have his hands full these next few years attempting to prevent the National Basketball Apocalypse.
There has been a super team in Los Angeles for a few years now, one formed in Boston not too long ago, and the fresh one on the block this year is in Miami.
With these teams filled to the brim with superstars, and Carmelo quietly eyeing his own super squad in New York, how many superstars are there going to be left for the other teams?
Don't get me wrong, I love watching the Titan teams clashing as much as the next guy, but what if the other not so super teams start doing so badly that they cease to be teams anymore? Think about it, this is not very far-fetched.
If the trend of combining large amounts of stars on one team continues, how will the other teams have a chance? Sure the Grizzlies are accustomed to losing seasons, but what if things continued to get worse?
We could see teams like The Timberwolves, Grizzlies, Clippers, Kings, and others close up shop for good.
As much as it is fun to see the heavy weights duke it out, do we really want the league to shrink because of it?
Trust me I want the Clippers out of town, but not like that. Just move them to San Diego or something.
This threat is not yet fully realized by most common fans, but it's a very real threat none the less.
The NBA is running on empty in terms of True Centers as it is, so it only exacerbates things that the remaining Big Men can't seem to find a way off of the bench.
With the exception of Dwight Howard, the leagues most powerful big men have been powerless for the majority of their careers, and frankly it's just sad at this point.
Andrew Bynum came on the scene looking like the next big thing, but has never been able to develop fully as a player due to being sidelined to three similar knee injuries. When healthy Bynum is a solid contributor, but he may never reach his potential due to his injury prone past.
Greg Oden, or "The Son of Bynum" I call him has done just what most sons usually do, follow in their fathers footsteps. Oden also came into the league touted to be the next big deal in the Center position, and tell me, how many games have you seen him play? Oden has suffered similar injuries and surgeries to most centers of late, and has spent the majority of his young career riding the pine.
Will he ever be the dominating inside presence the Blazers signed him to be?
Only time can tell that story, but now he's got a late start.
Yao Ming's story is not the same, but it's not much different either.
Yao has enjoyed many seasons in the NBA now, but his most recent injury has threatened to take away his career. At 30 years old, Yao's career should still have a good five seasons left in it. After sitting out the entire 2010 campaign, most people must wonder how Yao will hold up during this upcoming regular season.
If you add all these up, what you get is a severe lack of what the NBA has been known for since the leagues formation. The dominating inside forces need to somehow get off of the bench, and return some normalcy into the NBA.
Why is it we love this game?
Because they love this game.
Seeing the emotion a player makes after executing an amazing play is why we love watching.
The passion they exude knowing that what they just did could have altered an entire season worth of work is pure electricity.
And the NBA apparently wants to take that away from us.
The rules have been altered this year in terms of technical fouls, and not for the better. David stern has instructed the referees to be quick with the whistles if any decision is questioned, or any game changing moment over-celebrated.
I know what you're thinking, but I too think NBA players can be too whiny about calls sometimes.
Should that really give the Ref's this much power to alter a game?
Think about the big moments, not night to night situations.
Think about how mad you will be when your star player sinks an impossible shot that seemingly seals the game, only to be teched up for over celebrating. Now the other team goes to the charity stripe for the tie.
What about the circumstance where a huge call is actually missed?
I know these ref's are perfect, but humor me here.
What happens when players make a fuss for a replay of something that could alter an entire series?
The NBA is now just going to T them up and move on.
I still have not even touched on the effect it will have on player availability. In the playoffs, you can be held out of games due to your number of tech's. Do we really want Wade, or Kobe, or Lebron missing the biggest games of the year because they show too much emotion?
That would be a sad way to win for the opposing team.
I agree that the NBA should crack down on the people who constantly question the ref's authority, but this is not the way.
These days Lebron James is loathed by every NBA fan not in the Miami Heat's bandwagon.
How? Wait, what?
Wasn't he the NBA's golden boy just one year ago?
A whole lot has happened since the night Lebron refused to shake hands with the Orlando Magic, but I doubt that anyone thought it would go this far.
I have not seen this kind of hate for a player since the dark days of the Colorado incident, but this series of events for Lebron feels like it will have an even deeper impact.
While what happened with Kobe Bryant shocked fans on a personal level, what Lebron has done now many times has alienated fans on a basketball level.
He not only left the team and community that dubbed him "the chosen one", but he did it on National fricken TV. He also joined up with a band of superstars.
Once you do something like that, it sure hurts your chances of being the best of all time.
People will always know that Lebron had to join some of the leagues best to win a title, and I'm not sure that's what he wanted for his legacy.
Even after all that has transpired, I'm shocked.
I really am.
I never imagined someone as loved as Lebron was, being in this situation so quickly.
He went from Hero to Zero in most fans books quicker that a television special.
If you asked me if Lebron would be where he is today, leaving most people thinking that Kobe "doesn't seem so bad now", I would have deemed you certifiably insane.
It makes me think that if something like this could happen in the NBA, anything can.
We've been over it a thousand times now, but it's a very relevant concern to the NBA's reputation.
For those of you who don't know, this is Tim Donaghy.
He is a former referee of the National Basketball Association, and was employed for 13 seasons. (1994-2007) He is also the man who forever scarred the reputation of the NBA.
In 2007 Donaghy resigned from the NBA after reports began to surface that he was under investigation by the F.B.I for allegedly gambling on professional games, and changing the outcomes of multiple games by fudging calls.
Later he would write a "tell all" book entitled Blowing the Whistle: The Culture of Fraud in the NBA. This collection of memoirs has still yet to be released, however many sections have been seen and posted for all to see.
According to Donaghy referees gambled often, targeted players they disliked, and changed the outcomes of games "for fun". It's tough to know how much credence his words hold however, as Tim has been known to be a compulsive liar, and a man who would say anything to re-direct the bad attention he was receiving from this incident.
Whether his words are true or false, the damage has been done. Forever.
There have always been skeptics who propose that the NBA is rigged for television marketing dollars, and sadly this incident only strengthens their argument. One thing is for sure, the NBA has lost many viewers because of the Tim Donaghy incident.
We all know it's coming.
Phil Jackson has made it abundantly clear that three-peat or not, he's riding into the Montana sunset after this coming season.
Phil has won 11 championships as a coach, has created an astounding legacy for himself atop the list of great coaches, has had health problems his last several seasons, and finally he wants to rest.
Who can blame him?
He's made his point right?
That being said, the retirement of Phil Jackson will be a dark day for the National Basketball Association.
He and Jerry Sloan represent a dying breed of the legendary coach. The guy who puts all the teams fans at ease just by sitting on the bench. The guy who has a trick up his sleave for every big game situation. The guy who will subtlety cause off court speculation to better his teams chances.
Seeing someone as legendary as Jackson retire will feel like the ending of an era.
He represents the last active person that had a relationship with Michael Jordan in his playing days.
With seemingly everything shifting in the NBA right now, it only makes sense that Jackson would want to call it quits. The NBA that's coming is not his, and he knows it.
Jackson has more than proven his case as a coach with one more year to make a run at it, and after that's done he will leave the new NBA for someone else.
Michael Jordan has been talking quite a bit these days.
If he played in today's league he could score 100 points he says.
Sorry Mike, I don't see that happening.
You're 47 years old, and never scored more than 69 points in your prime.
He also arrogantly said Kobe was in his "top ten guards" list.
Don't make me laugh dude.
These statements amongst others have been part of MJ's trash talking of late. I sure do wish we could see him try to prove some of his bitter statements.
But what would you do if he actually came back and tried to play another season?
Would it be more interesting? Or more sad?
At 47 MJ could not run with the NBA greats of today, yeah I said it. I'm sure he can still shoot better than most guards, but the NBA game is more than just shooting.
I personally hope MJ sticks to golf and someday learns how to shut his mouth. If he returned to the NBA he would be marginal at best, and would continue to take attention away from his amazing career with the Bulls. To be honest he should have never come back to play with the Wizards, but coming back yet another time would be embarrassing for his career, and the reputation of the NBA.
The Center position is now on the endangered species list, and soon it could be gone forever.
Gone are the days when a Center was expected to be taller than tall, heavy immovable objects that imposed their will under the basket. Now with the heavy European influence on today's league, Centers are stepping out for mid-range jumpers, beating teammates down court, and averaging a height below seven feet. This new player represents a hybrid player. Half center, half power forward.
While it's good to see a center do more than throw down the occasional dunk, I feel like the NBA is losing some of it's history with this movement. These day's it's hard to tell the power forward and the center position apart, and the lane is becoming an open invitation for slashing point guards league wide.
Guys like Dwight Howard, Brook Lopez, Greg Oden, and Andrew Bynum represent the last of the true centers who have modeled their game after centers of the past. It's up to them in the future to carry the torch, and continue to inspire the need for the true center.
Recent reports suggest that the players union has made progress with the NBA and David Stern in their talks to prevent a lockout in the 2011-2012 season.
Yeah, I'm not buying it.
The collective bargaining agreement is set to expire June 30th 2011, and most teams went into the red this last season. The owners have got to be livid at this, and the players are not going to want to sit back and watch their contract possibilities diminish.
Both sides are in a deadlock struggle. The players want things to stay the same, while Stern wants to update his business model.
The players are not going to vibe with the idea of having their salaries significantly cut, and until something else is proposed by the NBA brass, we're heading straight toward a lockout in the dreaded 2012.
Nothing has been a bigger blow to the NBA in recent years than the amazing stupidity of Gilbert Arenas, and the Locker room gun incident.
To me it sent the message that the NBA has little control over their players, and are putting their employees at risk. I don't really care if the whole thing was as serious as pulling a gun, or as joking as Gilbert made it seem, it's simply unacceptable.
If the NBA wants to be around in the next fifty years, it needs to do major work on it's image. Incidents like this one bring shame to the sport, and drive away more and more fans. NBA players would some day like to be classified as athletes, not "thugs".
That's a long road they will travel with things like this happening, but hopefully someday they will be taken seriously.
Everything I have mentioned could one day lead to the death of the NBA as we know it today.
Some issues I mentioned are serious, while others are on the lighter side, but all of them contribute to how we the fan see the game of basketball.
While change is an inevitable force in life as in all things, my wish is that the NBA holds true to it's wonderful traditions that have made it my favorite sport.
Thank's all for the read, and get ready for the season just around the corner!