Feb. 3, 2008 the New York Giants faced an undefeated New England Patriots team in Super Bowl XLII. Tom Brady and Randy Moss had broken a NFL record for touchdown passes in that season, their veteran defense was playing well and the team as a whole was firing on all cylinders. But that night in University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona, Brady and Patriots failed to complete a perfect season losing to the Giants 17-14.
Were the Patriots a better team? Absolutely, they just weren’t the better team that day. That’s what makes football so exciting and unpredictable. Any given Sunday, it’s all up for grabs, the worst team can be victorious against the leagues best when playing for all the marbles.
In the game of basketball, it doesn’t quite work that way. Sure, game by game during the regular season the Memphis Grizzlies may squeak out a win versus the Celtics, but come playoff time in a 7game series format; the best team always wins. Basketball is almost an exact science.
Oct. 27 marks the start of the NBA regular season. The league ambassadors of yesteryear, Michael, Magic and Larry have all been enshrined in Hall of Fame. In this era we have Kobe, Lebron and Dwayne, and you can expect this year’s NBA action to be fantastic! Not since the NBA’s heyday of the mid 80’s into the 90s (when Jordan ruled) have rosters been this stacked. Almost every team has an all star caliber player, another large percentage has a superstar and there are some that have both!
For clarification, the difference between an all star and a superstar is the difference between let’s say Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat, and Joe Johnson of the Atlanta Hawks. Both are extremely talented and athletic, however; of the two, only D-Wade has that “it” quality necessary to propel his team to the championship level. An ability to endure all the pressures that come with being the franchise player, face adversity and still consistently deliver when there are only seconds left on the clock.
The league is filled with promising young talent from all around the world. Having a hybrid big man that can post up, dribble and shoot is almost common place. There are guards like Nate Robinson that barely stands 5’5” but can jump out of the gym and can leap 7 footers with a single bound. Even with all this talent looming, there are still only 4 teams that have a legitimate shot at the title.
Celtics, Cavs, Lakers, Spurs; one of these four teams will be your champion at the years end. Basketball is pretty cut dried concerning the formula to win it all: first, there has to be good coaching; second, your team must play great defense; third, you must have at least one big man that can play with his back to the basket and be an overall presence in the paint; and forth, playoff experience and lastly you have to have at least one superstar.
These four teams have the necessary ingredients.
There are a couple teams out there that some think have a shot like Orlando, Denver, maybe Dallas, but the only purpose these teams will serve will be for a competitive playoff series for one of the legitimate championship contenders.
In a seven-game series all of a team’s fallacies are exposed. For instance, last year in the Eastern Conference Finals, the world saw that Cleveland was one dimensional, and Coach Mike Brown was incapable of making in game adjustments.
The 2009 Cavs have added arguably the greatest center ever in Shaquille O’Neal and now have yet another year of playoff experience under their belts. Nevertheless, it’s still not time for Prince James to reign as King. As a matter of fact, the Cavs won’t even make it to the NBA finals. Last year Boston and San Antonio were plagued by injuries to their best players prohibiting them to reach their full potential. The Celtics and Spurs have aged but they haven’t yet lost a step.
Great front office work has aided both franchises with some phenomenal off-season acquisitions. This season’s NBA finals matchup will be a familiar one. The Celtics will face the Lakers in the finals, pending there are no serious injuries. The Kobe Show as I Like to call them will repeat largely due to superlatives. They have the best coach in Phil Jackson and the best player in Kobe Bryant. They’ve added a defensive presence with Ron Artest, coupled with veteran leadership from Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom. Enjoy the season!
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