It shouldn't have been this fun. My team got dumped out in an injury filled four game sweep in the first round to the Boston Celtics to start the playoffs and yet when I think back on the NBA season that just ended, I can't help but think it was a success.
I'm not breaking any new ground in saying that this season and more importantly these playoffs were outstanding, I think that is pretty much a common thought among the internet. That just doesn't stop it from being true. When things got started I don't think anyone could have predicted exactly how things would have turned out. There was a general feeling the New York Knicks could make the playoffs with a new superstar, that the Heat could make the NBA Finals, and that the Mavericks would be carried by Dirk Nowitzki. How those individual things actually played out, were quite different.
A mid-season trade to Manhattan had the Knicks armed with Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, and Amare Stoudemire. I thought it would be Amare and a team of up and comers scraping into the playoffs, instead it was a modified big three that took part in the sweep. That playoff loss was as brutal today as they were when the Knicks of the 90s got dumped from the playoffs but it presented a silver lining, they were actually in the playoffs. I know that shouldn't be enough, but for Knicks fans of the last ten years, right now at least, it is enough. It won't be next year, however.
The Heat, they should have gotten to the NBA Finals and they did, but I didn't think the hate for LeBron James could last 82 games and then find a new level in the playoffs. It started with everyone in Cleveland and now it just feels like everyone. His performance in the NBA Finals doesn't need to be further dissected but watching him swing the ball rapidly around the perimeter reminded me what I would do if I were dropped into an NBA Finals game. "Get this ball away from me." Makes sense for me, not King James.
You know the Mavericks would be carried by Dirk, but all the way to the NBA Finals, I can't say I saw that one coming but what a pleasant surprise to see a group of guys that had never won a title do exactly that. To see Jason Kidd grind it out in a long NBA career and finally get a championship after carrying the Nets years earlier was really a great sight. To see Brian Cardinal, still in the NBA, and then getting a title, that has to bring a smile to anyone's face.
Anyone who follows the Knicks knows unfortunately Patrick Ewing consistently falls into the category of greats to never win a title so it's always great to see a few guys get off that list, like Kidd and of course Dirk, who avenges the 2006 Finals.
But what about everything else? In no particular order there were some awesome moments, like every time Blake Griffin stepped on a court. He made every Clipper game, regardless of opponent worth stopping the remote on. You never know when he would leap 30 feet in the air and just crush someone with a facial. The run by the Memphis Grizzlies in the playoffs. I'm not even mad that Zach Randolph became the player we always wanted him to be in New York, but probably never gave him enough time to morph into. The playoffs in general. It seemed as if we were treated to a series of great finishes and amazing shots from the very beginning. Perhaps this should have been the year the NBA Playoffs got their own One Shining Moment just bottling up all the good times.
The NFL labor issue has totally overshadowed the potential lockout looming in the NBA, at least in my opinion and maybe it is because we have been busy enjoying this season while the NFL has already started losing valuable prep time for their next season. I hope they can figure out a way to keep this momentum going, we need to see where Griffin goes from here, does LeBron figure out how to relate to the rest of America, what will a full off-season do for the chemistry of the New York Knicks?
Next season will have a long way to go in topping what just finished, but making sure things tip off come Halloween, well that's be a great start.