The excitement, the beautiful people in the house — there’s something about the NBA that draws you in, just like the NFL. This NBA season is coming off of a bitter long lockout by the 30 owners, who demanded mandated concessions from the players. The owners were able to get the players to surrender to their terms, giving up nearly 20 percent annually the leverage they maintained previously to reach a new CBA.
The question is will the business profits and growth of the sport be achieved. After 30 games, it’s too early to gauge, but the sacrifices made by the players appear to have saved at least six franchises from drowning in the red.
And, the players still have the freedom to move at the end of contracts. The 66-game shortened season means everybody loses, frankly, across the court.
Some of the games have been ragged, bunched together three nights in a row, four games in five days. This has been brutal on the players and sometimes affects their performances. The Chicago Bulls (23-7) have the most wins in the league after having played 30 games, but 20 of those games have been on the road. They are 9-1 at home with 23 home games left; the Bulls are the team to beat.
Miami with LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh are in a great position again to make a run for the Finals at 21-7. They have to win the championship, however, to have a successful season, period.
Philadelphia at 19-9 looks good; they are the biggest surprise in the league. Boston with a lot age has slipped to 15-12, but don’t count them out. Orlando (18-10) is expected to lose superstar Dwight Howard soon, which could tilt the balance of power if Howard goes to the Lakers!
Indiana (17-10) and Atlanta (18-10) are title hopefuls. The New York Knicks with Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler are a playoff team, and if Jeremy Lin keeps it up, look out.
The West is home of the defending champion Dallas Mavericks, who have reloaded at 17-11; they could repeat if Lamar Odom gets over not having a reality show. Oklahoma City (21-6), with the best record in the league with Kevein Durant and Russell Westbrook, are ready to win now.
The LA Clippers (17-8) with dunking Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, have taken the city from the Lakers. The San Antonio Spurs (19-9) won’t go away with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili — they could win it.
The West is deeper than the East in terms of quality teams, and that’s bad news for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are better than they have been in six years. Coach Rick Adelman can coach. They have trashed the triangle offense. All-Star Kevin Love is better than ever.
Nikola Pekovic is delivering inside muscle and power game, and Ricky Rubio is special and can play in this league. If only he could shoot and limit his turnovers. But they are not quite a playoff team yet.
People are buying tickets again; attendance is up, close to 16,000 average. That’s a good thing — they are exciting and relevant again.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, and on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm; he also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2), and you can follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to in [email protected], or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.