The 2010-2011 NBA season is right around he corner after a summer of media scrutiny, player movement, international basketball and a national fascination with ‘the decision’.
The inevitable topic of discussion will no doubt revolve around the contenders to the crown currently held by the Kobe Bryant-led Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe Bryant and company secured their second NBA title in three consecutive appearances giving the All-World guard 5 titles in seven championship tries. Kobe’s continued excellence has not escaped the scrutiny of his chief rivals. Lebron James has upped the ante in his personal challenge for NBA glory by joining fellow Olympians G Dwayne Wade and C Chris Bosh on Miami Heat team destined to make a legitimate run for the championship hardware in late June.
Lebron James’ title drought has assured him a place with the league’s best who have never tasted NBA glory.
These players, while supremely having attaining some of the highest accolades that the sport has to offer, seem to come up short when the season of championship parades, and ring ceremonies commences in post season:
‘The King’ has been tested in the final series before, having been abruptly eliminated 4-0 by the Tim Duncan-led San Antonio Spurs in 2007. The former Cleveland Cavalier franchise player has also been denied entry into the final clash with conference title defeat to the Orlando Magic in the 2009 NBA playoffs. Big strong, with an improved jump shot. The veritable ‘do everything” player has developed into the NBA’s best when driving to the basket. His leadership on the floor rivals any who have played the game. The obvious bevy of questions remain regarding ‘The King’s’ ability to push a team to NBA glory. His Kevin Garnett-like move to Miami will no doubt shed light on his ability to meld with a highly capable supporting cast, and get over the play-off hump.
The Canadian-Born former 2-time League MVP will do well to quiet the rising naysayers with a play-off push this season, after several previous late round play-off flameouts in a Phoenix Suns jersey. The 7-time All-NBA performer (2 first team) will continue to drive Phoenix’s renewed transition style offense without the likes of former All-Star and current New York Knick PF-C Ama’re Stoudimire. Creative, fast, and gifted with superior court vision; the floor general will see his NBA career marked by what could have been having bowed out in the 2005, 2006, and 2010 Western Conference finals with both the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks franchise.
The 9-time NBA All-Star and 2007 League MVP, the Wurzburg, Germany-born Nowitzki has quietly climbed the ranks as one of the best to never claim he crown. His offensive prowess and big time performances in crucial situations has earned the respect of players’ league wide. His 2005 finals appearance with the Dallas Mavericks has been the high point of an often stellar NBA Career. A rangy player with exceptional skills round the perimeter, Nowitzki has remained owner Mark Cuban’s showpiece in a 10-year period of franchise resurgence. The 7-foot player has seen several coaching changes as the often mercurial Cuban has not been shy in making major changes to the roster over the years. Can the perennial All-Star see NBA glory playing along side veteran PG Jason Kidd?
The rangy forward came into the 2009-2010 NBA season fit and refocused, with an eye towards dethroning the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers after a bitter Western Conference Finals defeat to the Kobe-led squad a year earlier. The Syracuse the product saw his season abruptly end with a first round play-off defeat to the rival Utah Jazz. Strong, versatile, and capable of playing both the 4 and 5 spots, The 3-time NBA All-Star has seen his rookie class mates Lebron James and Dwayne Wade make previous NBA Finals appearances, and take a step towards returning with the Miami Heat this season.
The 2006 NBA Rookie of the Year has seen his team’s fortunes retreat with the firing of successful Head Coach Byron Scott after just 9 games into the 2009-2010 season. The team’ 3-6 start was followed up by a 34-39 for the duration of the injury-riddled season.
Olympian Gold medal winner Paul saw his best play-off finish following the 2007-2008 NBA season, losing in the Western Conference semi-finals 4-2 to the San Antonio Spurs.
The rumors of trade demands and dispute with management have swirled around the 3-time NBA All-Star as the Hornets look to refocus efforts to compete in the highly contested Western Conference.
Honorable Mention: Baron Davis, Chris Bosh, Dwight Howard, Ama’re Stoudimire, Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming
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