It’s a sports list. You like lists. You like sports.
The NBA lockout is resolved, so much like Moe Syzlak, I can put off my holiday suicide for another year. But what about the season we’re going to get? Last year’s season was one of the most enjoyable seasons in NBA history. That it ended with Miami’s cabal of evil getting humiliated, while Lebron James froze in the headlights like a slightly more pathetic Bambi, was just the icing on the steak. It’s unknown if this season will be as fun, but here’s a few things to expect from the 2012 NBA season.
1. The Lakers Reign Of Terror Is Over
When Kobe and company flamed out in epic, magnificent, elbow-throwing, shirtless glory last May, it seemed like an aberration. The Lakers had been dominating the Western conference, for the past half-decade, surely this was just a minor setback, right? Eh, no. This team is fucking screwed.
For one thing, they gave up their third best player, Lamar Odom, for nothing. Forcing one of the Kardashian sisters to move is probably it’s own reward, but in the case of this team, it’s not going to help much.
Secondly, Kobe Bryant is about to become very washed-up very quickly. He can’t blow past defenders like he used to, and in last year’s playoffs, he was clearly overextending himself and still couldn’t get the job done. I’m not just saying this because he’s an asshole and a likely rapist (although that will make his collapse more fun). The guy’s had 15 amazing years, and he’s one of the 10 best players ever, but this the year he loses it.
Of course, that would be okay if he had some support, but this team has no depth whatsoever. Ron Artest changing his name to Metta World Peace is awful/hilarious, in the way Artest always is, but it’s not going to change the fact that he’s been shit since 2009.
Also, Derek fisher is still the starting point guard. Even his prime, Fisher was below average. He made one huge shot seven years ago, and he’s been coasting since. After the worn-out Kobe, and a soon-to-be-washed-up Pao Gasol (he’s in his 11th season), this team just doesn’t have the talent to compete. Their forth best player is Josh McRoberts. Who the fuck is Josh McRoberts? Exactly.
2. The Clippers Reign Of Terror Is Just Starting
The sports world has officially turned on its axis. Not enough to make the Buffalo Bills decent, but enough that for the first time in history, the Clippers are the better basketball team in L.A.
After David Stern screwed the Lakers over by vetoing the Chris Paul trade, he had no problem sending them to their crosstown rival. Whether that was entirely fair remains to be seen (but really, it was the Lakers getting screwed over, so who cares?), but it does give the Clippers a veritable super-team. After Paul, the Clippers have automated dunking machine Blake Griffin, who is probably the most exciting player to enter the league since Lebron (the fact that he actually seems to have a personality is merely an added bonus). The potential for massive alley-oops is limitless, which is why the team has already dubbed itself “lob city”.
Normally, I’d be offended by their presumptuousness but the fact is this team is loaded. Adding a still-not-quite-washed-up Chauncey Billups to the mix only solidifies their greatness. The Clippers have a legitimate shot at making the finals this year. Think about that for a second. Suddenly, the phrase “President Gingrich” doesn’t seem so implausible. Oh shit….
3. The Celtics, Spurs, and Mavs will all get really fucking old
Since we’ve covered the collapse of the Lakers, let’s talk about the teams responsible for three of the last five titles (the ones the Lakers didn’t win). Unfortunately, all of these teams are screwed by old age.
First, let’s look at the Celtics. Kevin Garnett is 35 years old, and his knees are made of silly putty at this point. Ray Allen is in the same boat, and while he can still drain threes, his loss of athleticism/defensive ability will eventually bite him in the ass. Paul pierce might have one or two good years left, but he’s never been able to carry a team without an elite supporting cast, and this year, I just don’t see how he’ll have one.
The Spurs overachieved in the regular season last year, but were quickly shot down in the playoffs by a Grizzlies team who was faster, stronger, and most important, younger. Tim Duncan averaged a career low 14 points per game last season, and the skills he still has are about to rapidly deteriorate. At this point, he’s like Kareem in the late 80s. Still useful, and capable of the occasional great game, but nowhere near what he was in his prime. The fact that Tony Parker is in his 11th year, and Manu Ginobili is about to be 33 means it’s unlikely that his usual wingmen will pick up the slack. The Spurs could be the rare number one seed to miss the playoffs the following year.
As for the Mavs, well, all of their starters are over 30. Even Dirk Nowitzki’s ever-reliable jump shot can’t save them from the rapid aging process. The acquisition of career underachiever and well-known head case Vince Carter isn’t going to help either. This team is decrepit beyond belief, and due to numerous lineup changes, won’t have the chemistry of last year’s title team.
The Spurs, Mavericks, and Celtics all had good runs, but they can’t keep up, especially not with a compressed schedule running the players ragged. Unfortunately for them, the rebuilding process will start earlier than expected.
4. Derrick Rose Is Winning Another MVP
There’s just no stopping this kid. He’s quite possibly the fastest player the league has ever seen, and he’s an amazing distributor as well.
At the age of 22, he was the league’s youngest MVP ever, and he’s just going to get better. All the people worried about the Heat winning the next 8 titles or some crazy shit should remember the Bulls have the most explosive player in the league, and as soon as he gets a quality sidekick (the eventual Pippen to his Jordan), he will shred everything in his path.
The Bulls probably don’t have the roster depth to make the finals this year, but that won’t stop Rose from making a plethora of Jesus-fucking-holy-christ-how-did-he-do-that plays (sort of his specialty) en route to his second consecutive MVP award.
5. The Three-Headed-Beast Is Winning The Title
Sorry to tell you guys this, but the Miami Heat have the best team in the league, and like it or not, they are winning the title. Bush’s fictional axis-of-evil may be 2/3 dead now, but the NBA’s very real one is very much alive, and as fun as it was watching them go down last year, it’s not happening again.
For one thing, if Lebron has any guts whatsoever, which is debatable, he’ll want to give the rest of the league the biggest middle finger possible. If he’s the competitor we often fancy him to be, he should be dropping triple-doubles left and right. Quadruple-doubles even! Maybe even the rarer octuple-double! Ok, fine, I made that up.
Secondly, they actually have a supporting cast this year. Backup forward Udonis Haslem will be around the entire season with this team, and gives them some much-needed muscle off the bench. Mike Miller can’t possibly suck as much as he did last year, and the addition of defensive expert/Michael Lewis masturbation fodder Shane Battier means the big three aren’t their only players this year.
This should be a pretty entertaining season, but unfortunately, the bad guys are going to win. My guess is the upstart Clippers make an inspiring run to the finals, where the Heat promptly shut them down in 5 games. I’d like to be wrong, and I’d like to wait one year before the inevitable sight of Lebron hoisting a Championship trophy, while reminding us what losers we are for caring so much in the first place (to be fair, he’s right), but I don’t think that’s happening. Evil will prevail this year, and all we can hope is that the journey there will be worth watching.