This archived article was written by: Micah Iverson
The National Basketball Association is geared up for another exciting season of unexpected outcomes for the 2004-2005 season. After last year and all that took place, this year should be an entertaining, yet competitive basketball season. Teams like the Spurs, Pistons, Mavericks, Kings, Pacers, Lakers, Heat, and Timberwolves are looking to be the elite of the league, and are all vying for what all professional athletes play for; a world championship.
We have seen a minor face lift for the NBA and its configuration, with the expansion of the Charlotte Bobcats joining the Eastern Conference and the New Orleans Hornets leaving for the Western Conference. Now with thirty NBA franchises, the league has been split into fifteen equal franchises in the respective conferences with three divisions of five teams in each conference. As expected, and as we have seen for the past few years, the Western Conference will be the dominant conference and should put out this season’s NBA champions.
Just a few months ago the world witnessed the Detroit Pistons defeat the mighty L.A. Lakers in five games for the all-coveted NBA title. No one thought that it would happen like that. L.A. is lucky that they even came away with one win. After that humiliation, the drama was just getting started. The team was basically dismantled with the ugly departure of Shaquille O’Neal to the Miami Heat. Yes, the Lakers lost the most dominant big man on the face of the planet, but they added Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, Brian Grant, and a future first-round pick. After being acquitted over the summer of felony sexual assault, now it’s Kobe’s time to show off his ball-hogging skills and finally lead the league in scoring and show that he is a true “team leader.” So far so good for the Miami Heat this season, starting out 3-0 even with Shaquille playing minimal minutes, but as for the Lakers, we could see them going from Western Conference champs to missing the playoffs. Sorry Kobe, but they did it for you!!!
Some years passed by without seeing major NBA players signed or traded, but this past summer two major deals were completed, the biggest being the change of scenery being the change of scenery for Shaquille O’Neal. The other was
reigning scoring champion Tracy McGrady. He wanted out of Orlando and their losing ways and was dealt to the Houston Rockets along with Tyronn Lue, Reece Gaines, and Juwan Howard, for Steve Francis, Cuttino Mobley and Kelvin Cato. With T-Mac joining up with Yao, many are naming them the best 1-2 duo in the league. Along the same line, Toronto Raptors star Vince Carter wanted out and demanded a trade, but was given no such luxury. Now that the Raptors have started out very well this season, Vinces tone has changed a bit and is smiling a little more in Toronto.
Many teams faired well over the summer adding and/or subtracting personnel. The leagues best off-season definitely belongs to the hometown Utah Jazz. After last season’s disappointments and after missing the playoffs for the first time in 18 years, changes had to be made. With money to spend, the Jazz went out and signed who they wanted. With two big additions and three first round draft choices the Jazz think they are ready to be back in the playoff hunt. The two big additions were Carlos Boozer from the Caveliers and Mehmet Okur from the Pistons who both signed multi year contracts and have filled the voids which were missing last season for the Jazz. Their draftees Kirk Snyder and Chris Humphries have proved they can contribute and should learn much from the stacked roster of the Utah Jazz. Their season has started off perfect so far and the fans are hoping for more of the same.
Last year we saw Lebron James do what few can do in their first year in the league. After all the hype and conversation surrounding him, he exceeded all expectations, doing what no other 18 year old kid has ever done in the NBA. Now this year being his second year in the league, and narrowly missing the playoffs last season, the expectations are high and the Cavs are expected to do well and gain a spot in this years playoff run. This years number one pick Dwight Howard has to prove that he was worthy of that selection. In a different environment than Lebron was placed in, Howard has the luxury and opportunity to play with fellow teammates who know how to win and will teach him to do the same. Hopefully the remaining seven high schoolers who jumped over college to the NBA can have the same success that the aforementioned athletes have enjoyed.
Will the Pistons take the title again this year, or will someone dethrone them from the Western Conference? As expected, the 2004-2005 NBA season will be as exciting and unexpected as we are all used to. So whoever you root for, keep the spirit alive that is professional basketball and watch because “you love this game.”