Kobe and the Commish
Many NBA fans, including myself, put this regular season down as one of the best in recent memory. With so many story-lines being played out and so much history being made, I thought it was necessary to document the best moments of the season.
Ever since the vaunted free-agent class of 2010 settled into their respective teams, the NBA has been steaming with newfound rivalries and basic philosophic disagreements. The only thing that could possibly top it is the postseason to come.
After over six months of trade rumors about Carmelo and Nets led to disappointment when the superstar landed in New York, Mikhail Prokhorov and the Nets managed to pull of one of the sneakiest deadline deals ever, in an era when every story is tweeted about before it becomes official.
Williams may not have been the superstar Nets fans expected, but it is a start.
In October and the months before the NBA season started, there were whispers of the Lakers or even the newly assembled Heat gunning for 70-plus wins.
Not too many people expected the San Antonio Spurs to lead the league in wins, especially by the margin they did for the first three quarters of the year.
The Spurs have to be one of the most boring 1-seeds in recent memory, which almost makes their story all the more interesting.
Year after year, head coach Gregg Popovich seems to find a way to put the right pieces together, and this year has been no exception.
After waiting an entire year to see if this kid was the real deal or another prospect destroyed by the Donald Sterling Clippers Curse, we finally have our answer.
From the first game alone, we found out what Blake Griffin was going to mean to the league.
Not only has Griffin given us enough dunks to support SportsCenter's Top 10 for the next year, he has revitalized the entire Clippers organization, which is no easy task.
If he can manage to stay healthy, he will continue to be a riveting story for years to come.
In a league where superstars seem to be flocking to each other for support, New York finally has their Super-Duo.
After the seemingly endless trade talks between the Nuggets and the Knicks, Spike Lee and crew finally have what they wanted: the key pieces in place to begin forming a contender.
And it's safe to say its good for the sport to have a new life pumped into New York basketball.
The NBA is a league where the All-Star game tends to be a microcosm for the entire season. This season, Kobe put the West on his back and showed he still has a little left in the tank.
Although most would argue the NBA All-Star game is meaningless, it seemed to have a bit of an edge this year.
Bryant's 37 points ignited his hometown crowd and seemed to ignite his team as well: the Lakers have the league's best record since the break.
The New Trio in South Beach dominated headlines all summer, and that hasn't subsided much as the season has gone on.
Everyone expected the Heat's new superstars to need some time to adjust to playing with one another, but few thought they would be heading into the playoffs with as many questions as they have. The thing is, most of it isn't the Big Three's fault.
An underachieving supporting cast, at times riddled with injury, has left James, Bosh, and Wade seeming to play three-on-five. Will it work itself out in the playoffs, or is it another failed experiment?
Kevin Love's season-long rampage on the glass has in itself been a remarkable story: Love leads the league in rebounding at 15.2 a game.
But it was his 31-point, 31-rebound performance against the Knicks that brought Love and the rarely-recognized Timberwolves some attention.
It was the league's first 30-30 game since Moses Malone accomplished the feat in 1982. Even more impressive? It came in a rare Timberwolves win.
The other side of the Heat Trio forming in South Beach: a Cleveland franchise left in ruins. The Cavaliers started the season off decently, until LeBron and Co. came to town.
The ruckus crowd was more concerned with cheering against James than for their own team, and James soon silenced them by turning the game into a laugher.
The Cavs then proceeded to go into a 26-game losing streak while the Heat went on to win 21 of their next 22.
The hatred is still there, but now Cleveland is simply looking for a way to move on.
Just as no one focused on the NFL labor dispute until the season ended, no one seems to be really worried about the potential for an NBA lockout next season either.
But if anything, it seems the NBA is more likely to lock out than the NFL.
Just as fan interest was hitting its stride and the league was truly interesting again, it may be all flushed away with a work stoppage.
The single greatest moment (or story, I guess) of the 2010-2011 NBA season has hands down been Derrick Rose and his MVP-level performance.
Forget about his individual stats, which are more than impressive, just look at the team stat that matters more than any other: wins.
Rose has somehow managed to secure a No. 1 seed in the east despite only having his entire squad with him for about a quarter of the season. Simply remarkable.
In a year that was supposed to be all about superstar trios, Rose and the Bulls have proven that true team chemistry, a great leader, and great team defense can still win in this league.