The 2011 NBA Finals could be fun this year.
Teams are stocking up on marquee players in the Eastern Conference like the Heat, Celtics and Knicks. The Bulls may have the league MVP. The Magic have been to the Conference Finals the past two seasons.
On the other coast, the Western Conference has the two-time defending champions in the Lakers. The Spurs have the best record in the league and the Mavericks are playing defensively, making them a threat. Not to mention the up and coming Oklahoma City Thunder, who are a year more mature.
This mix of teams (and others) could make for some fun basketball come June.
Here are the 10 most intriguing match-ups the Finals could have to offer.
These two clubs have never met in an NBA Finals. For the sake of NBA ratings lets hope it never happens. Why? Because I'm sure the league would want people watching besides fans in Beantown and at the Alamo.
You can't deny they are two quality basketball teams. You just don't want them to be the last two standing for the big gold ball. Greg Popovich coaching against Doc Rivers? Ray Allen and Manu Ginobili? Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett? Can it end in a tie?
Two of the up and coming teams each with two bonafide young studs (three if you include Russell Westbrook).
It would certainly be a coming out party should the Thunder and Bulls meet for the title.
Derrick Rose leading Chicago against Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City would not only be a battle we could see several times more, it would also be fresh. Two franchises that haven't been to the top in a while is always compelling. Hey, maybe President Obama would make an appearance, too.
Another new NBA Finals tilt would be Dallas and Orlando. The best thing about this one would be sweet redemption for either Dirk Nowitzki or Dwight Howard, who both lost in their only previous Finals appearance.
Conversely, the loser would join all-time greats who led teams to multiple Finals appearances with nothing to show for it, like Karl Malone, John Stockton, Patrick Ewing and Elgin Baylor. Both guys would be doing anything it took to win which would be so compelling.
This would be the biggest match-up of star power the NBA could offer. Los Angeles playing New York in the Finals. West Coast against East Coast. Hollywood and Gotham. New York has upgraded with Carmelo Anthony coming back to town and Chauncey Billups is still a capable component.
Kobe Bryant loves Madison Square Garden and would love nothing better than to put on a show for Spike Lee. Not to mention the New York roots of Ron Artest and Lamar Odom. Can you say "Queensbridge"?
Arguably the two best Batman and Robin combos in the league would square off. Heat/Thunder could be a huge rivalry for many years to come. Especially with the Kevin Durant/Chris Bosh tiff earlier this season.
This would be a battle of culture clashes, too. Miami's glitz and glamour taking on Oklahoma City's more understated way of life. It would definitely be entertaining.
This would be the battle of the crazy owners, Mark Cuban of the Mavericks and James Dolan of the Knicks. These two may find a way to overshadow the play on the court.
That said, Dirk and Amar'e in a best of seven wouldn't be the worst way to settle the 2011 NBA Season. It would also renew the battle between the two metro areas that went Dallas' way in baseball after the Texas Rangers stopped the New York Yankees in the 2010 American League Championship Series.
The Spurs swept Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007. This would be the King's chance to, not only exorcise those demons, but start the march toward the multiple titles he said he and his mates would bring to Miami.
This would be a rematch of the 1991 Finals in which the Bulls won four games to one. This battle would be the bright new challenger from the East taking on the veteran champ from the West.
Kobe attempting to take out Michael Jordan's old club to tie him with six NBA championships would be must see television.
The old rivals going at it again. Probably for the last time in this era. The Celtics won seven straight in the matchup from 1959 to 1969. Boston won again in 1984, but the Lakers turned the tide winning the final two straight of the Magic/Bird period.
A 2011 Finals appearance by both teams would be the rubber match in the Kobe/Big Three time frame. It would be like Ali/Frazier because not only would it be for the NBA Title but for the championship of each other. It would also be Phil Jackson's last chance (so he says) to put Red Auerbach further in his rear view window.
The most anticipated match-up this season would be the Heat tangling with the Lakers. The two best players in the league (Bryant, James) along with their great sidekicks (Gasol and Odom for LA, Wade and Bosh for Miami). Who could ask for anything more?
The story lines would be fun. Can Kobe send Phil Jackson out a winner and tie Michael? Can Lebron win his first ring against the two-time defending champs? Would the winner between Bryant and James prove who the best player in the league is? Or will someone like Wade or Gasol have an epic Finals and put their name in the conversation as Finals MVP? We can only hope we get the chance to find out.