Yes, people, the NBA players are back at practice. Soon they will be playing preseason games. The NBA season is a long one, but when the Finals are finally over, it seems like it’s a long way to October. This year wasn’t too bad though with the Olympics to give u a hoops fix. And there’s always the WNBA if you are really a basketball junkie. Next year Brittney Griner will be playing, so that might be interesting. But when the NBA gets going, that’s arguably the best part of the sports calendar. Actually THE best part is when college basketball gets started. But October is tough to beat with post season baseball, NASCAR’s Chase, NFL and college football in mid-season form and the beginning of the NBA season. And some years there’s even the NHL.
This year’s big stories in the NBA training camps are, of course, the Dwight Howard-Kobe Bryant story. Can D12 be serious enough to stay out of Kobe’s dog house? Will Dwight pout while Kobe takes most of the shots and Steve Nash dribbles the shot clock away? Will there be enough shots to keep Pau Gasol and Ron Artest happy?
Then there are the L.A. Clippers. Can the Clippers improve enough this year to steal some of the L.A. spotlight away from the gold and purple? Will Chauncey Billups, Matt Barnes and Lamar Odom give the Clippers some leadership and depth that could make them a contender?
What about the Miami Heat? Can they repeat? Is Lebron James the best player in the NBA? Is he even the best player on his team?
So many questions to be answered. But here’s my question:
What happens when the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Orlando Magic, the Phoenix Suns, the Toronto Raptors, the New Orleans Hornets, the Charlotte Bobcats or any other of the teams in small markets get some good players again? Will the fans fall in love with their newest superstar only to see him walk away to go to the New York Knicks, the Boston Celtics, the Lakers or the Clippers? This is a question the NBA needs to take seriously. Because at some point the answer will be no.
Let’s take Orlando for example. They had Shaquille O’Neal. They loved him. He was the man in Orlando. He then bolted the first chance he got to Los Angeles. The Magic went from contenders to also-rans. They bottomed out and found themselves in the Draft Lottery. They got the first pick and picked Dwight Howard. They fell in love with the big guy. They became good again. Then pretty soon he bolts for Los Angeles. (I know he was traded, but don’t for one second think the Magic wanted to trade him). So what happens when the Magic bottoms out again and finds themselves in the Draft Lottery again? If they get a young stud and he comes in and turns the team around, will the fans invest too much love into him?
How about New Orleans and Anthony Davis? Let’s see he really is the next big thing. How long will it be until he takes off for the Big City? Should Hornets fans go out and buy his jersey and tee shirts? If recent history tells us anything it is that they should not get too attached to him. He is only on loan until his first contract runs out.