This was a year that brought upon a classic rivalry between the most storied franchises in league history playing for the title. The Lakers and the Celtics had a tough seven game fight that was right in the middle of the year and that was just one of the many happenings that occurred during this year.
There were player retirements such as that of Rasheed Wallace and coaches that stepped down such as Don Nelson. Players who went from household names to no man's land and others who came from out of the fog to making a splash. The league had many moments occur throughout 2010, here are the top fifteen that happened.
The Playoffs and Spurs as two words combined have not been the brightest associations for the Suns. After enduring some gut wrenching Playoff losses at the hands of the Spurs, the Suns finally defeated the Spurs in the Playoffs.
A four game sweep at that, and for a minute at least were healed from their painful exit in the 2007 Playoffs. Where Raja Bell and Amar'e Stoudemire were suspended for going on the court after Robert Horry (Who was suspended) striked Steve Nash with an elbow in one of David Stern's dirtiest displays of equality. The Spurs look to be back on track this year with the best start in team history while the Suns, we can only hope they trade Steve Nash to bring some Playoff excitement.
It was low lights over highlights when it came to the trade deadline this past year. There were slight trades of interest such as the trade of John Salmons to the Bucks and Marcus Camby being traded to the ijury depleted Portland Trailblazers. These were pretty much all of the trades of notice, except for a last ditch effort by the Cavaliers. Feeling that they were not at full strength, the Cavaliers traded for Antawn Jamison to bolster their lineup and would eventually reacquire Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Not the greatest year, but the Jamison trade definitely caused a stir in Cleveland.
A.I. in Turkey? Believe it or not, Allen Iverson eventually found his way into Turkey after having two straight tumultuous season in the NBA. The Answer became a question mark as to his role on all 30 teams in the league, so with no suitors he found his way overseas. That would eventually land him in Turkey with much fanfare through his arrival at the airport. Iverson signed a two year deal with Besitkas Cola Turka this year and one can only wonder if Iverson will stay through for both seasons.
Speaking of Allen Iverson, a former coach of his in Larry Brown, called it quits this month. The 70-year-old was having a tough year after receiving a 6th seed in the Eastern Conference last season. Brown has been around the basketball world including a title with the Kansas Jayhawks and the Detroit Pistons. We can only wonder and wait if Brown takes on another year in the NBA with another new team.
Kevin Love achieved something that had not been done in a while. In accomplishing this feat, he also brought forth the vital importance of rebounding that stars such as Moses Malone, Karl Malone, Dennis Rodman and Charles Barkley use to show nightly. Where its vitality does not get talked about outside of Dwight Howard. The fact that Love was the first to grabbed thirty and thirty since 1982 is incredible since half of the people reading this article weren't even born the last time it was achieved.
Blake Griffin has begun this season on a terror putting up double-doubles regularly. His most dominant showing might have come against the New York Knicks. On November 21st, Griffin sent notice to the league that he was for real. He put in 44 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists. Forgetting those stats, the dunks alone were worthy of high praise. It was season long highlight reel for most in one game. He showed that he should be the front runner for Rookie of the Year.
Rajon Rondo began the 2010-2011 season by carving up defenses with his passing. Among those games that put gave him the most assists to begin a season with was this beauty against the Knicks. On October 29th, he had a career high 24 assists, to go with 10 points and 10 rebounds for a triple-double. The 24 assists is the most put up in a game since 1996. Rondo showed the rest of the league and his teammates that the Celtics are still a team to be reckoned with.
Amar'e Stoudemire signed with the Knicks this off-season with the hope that the Knicks could acquire LeBron James. That did not happen; but the Knicks have still been leaps and bounds better than they had been in past seasons. Stoudemire and New York started slow, but up the ante by going 15-5 over their last 20 games including an 8 game win streak. Amar'e has been a great boost to this floundering franchise.
LeBron James gave another great season in 2009-2010 and he was awarded with his second straight MVP trophy on May 2nd. The Cavaliers put together another great regular season that catapulted them into a #1 seed going into the Playoffs. LeBron would be joined by all of his teammates on the podium. All these wins would in the end only lead to a second round exit.
This was a monumental moment for a man who had just been in serious care after recovering from throat cancer. Both were big stories, but we will stay focused on the 1,00th win since it represents not only an ability to persevere through cancer; but finding a way to hang around the league to pick up win 1,000. An achievement that all around could enjoy.
They had a rugged regular season going 50-32, which was only good enough for the #4 seed in the Playoff standings heading in. After having many believe they would be upset by the #5 seed Heat, they dispatched of them in five games. They would then take out the #1 seed Cavs in six games and follow that by taking the Magic out in six games. They fell short in a valiant effort against the Lakers, but they played with as much as anyone this past year. They, like the Spurs, have started this season hot.
It had to happen sometime. On December 2nd, LeBron returned to the place that had been home since the 2003-2004 season, or to a degree, his whole life. LeBron started slow and the Cavs got off to a hot start, then the Heat turned up the pressure in the second and third quarters. LeBron scored 20+ points in the third quarter to end the quarter with 38 points and took the fourth quarter off in a blowout. At the least Cleveland got to see him play at his full potential.
Kevin Durant learned that he truly can't be stopped this past year. Besides killing opponents at the FIBA championships, Durant has been stroking the rock just as well in the association. Not only did Durant win the scoring title, but he was also the youngest to ever do it. That went along with making the Thunder the best turnaround team in the league. They made their way into the Playoffs and gave the Lakers a tough time behind Durant's smooth stroke.
Phil Jackson won his eleventh title and Kobe Bryant won his fifth along with Finals MVP in this seven game series. The series could have gone either way with the Celtics losing Kendrick Perkins in the sixth game and the Lakers losing Andrew Bynum as well. Still, the teams played hard and Derek Fisher was as key a player as anyone in the series hitting clutch shots. Nothing new for Fisher, and for the Lakers as they are now just one title behind the Celtics for most titles all-time.
Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James all found themselves together in Miami this past summer and it seems people were either elated or pissed off. I was myself feeling neutral to a degree but everyone had a feeling about this decision. Why did this go ahead of the championship between the Lakers and the Celtics? It's simple, this was bigger than sports.
This was personal and professional wrapped into one. The decision changed the landscape of life outside of just playing a sport. It was a value based system here and that is what made this decision so compelling.