June 6, 2013
By Nathan Deen
FORT BENNING, Ga., (June 5, 2013) -- I'm one of the toughest critics of the NBA. Basketball is my favorite sport, but my love for the game is found at the college level. I've never had much liking for the NBA.
I really couldn't have cared less that the league was on lockout in 2011 and there was no basketball being played. It was a horribly managed league with an overly long season and the same handful of teams always competing in the NBA Finals.
The NFL's labor problems were nothing compared to the NBA's. The MLB plays twice the amount of games in a season and gets it done a month sooner. You could have made a preseason prediction on which team would win the championship and have a 1 in 6 chance of being right.
And while, once again, two of the usual suspects are playing in the NBA Finals (Miami and San Antonio), my interest in the NBA peaked this season.
This was a good year for the league, which is surprising since it just came out of a lockout. Mediocre teams got better and the result was more parity and a more interesting postseason. The Lakers were not the best team in Los Angeles. Chicago was just a couple of healthy key players away from being elite. New York had two teams drawing attention. And Indiana was just one correction of a blown defensive assignment from knocking off the defending champions and advancing to the Finals.
It all came back to Game 1 for Indiana. Had LeBron James been defended in the game's final play, the Pacers would've grabbed a 2-0 lead going back home and closed the series out in Game 6.
And while neither the Pacers, the Los Angeles Clippers, the Memphis Grizzlies or the New York Knicks made it to the Finals, there was talk in the regular season of the possibilities.
This year's Finals still promises to be an epic matchup between the two elite teams in the league right now. The Spurs are like a more experienced version of the Pacers and have more offensive firepower, so I like them to win the title. I think it will take more than 30 points from James every night for the Heat to beat San Antonio. His supporting cast is going to have to start earning its wages.
The postseason is still far too long and 16 teams is way too many, but for the first time in a long time, the NBA has grabbed my attention.