It is hard to believe 2007 is officially in the books. But as fast as this year has passed, there was plenty that happened in the basketball world these past 12 months. We saw LeBron make it to the finals, an ugly referee scandal and we saw the New York Knicks (nuff said).
Here is a short recap of the highlights of the NBA in 07.
Hands down, one of the best stories of this past year was the development of King James. LeBron silenced his critics who questioned his competitive and heart by leading his Cavs past a stellar Pistons team to make the Finals.
This year well second half of the year anyway was all about the reincarnation of the Boston Celtics franchise. Through trades and a whole lot of luck, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce joined forces in the offseason to become the favorites to come out of the East and perhaps shock a Phoenix or San Antonio to win it all. Just six months ago, each of those superstars were on losing teams that were in the process of rebuilding. It is good to see these All Stars get their chance at a ring especially since all three are at their peak of their careers.
How about G-State this year? Definitely the cinderella of the league during the playoffs - they defeated the nearly invincible Dallas Mavericks in one of the most exciting playoff series in recent history. And if you didnt see Baron Davis bang that one on Andrei Kirilenko, here is the video!
2007 also saw the emergence of players such as Utahs Deron Williams and Golden States Monta Ellis. Williams proved in the playoffs and the Olympic trials that he is the point guard of the future, and Monta showed glimpses of greatness. As for this season, you have to tip your hats off to the Portland Trailblazers who have been ballin this past month. Under Brandon Roy, the Blazers are winners of 11 straight coming into the new year.
This was also a good year for Kobe. He performed awesome for Team USA this past summer. And while it looked like he was on the verge of getting an ugly divorce with the Lakers, he has turned it around made the Lakers legitimate contenders in the Western Conference. Oh, and did I mention he also became the youngest player in NBA history to hit the 20,000 point plateau?
This past offseason was one of the worst in NBA history. The last time the NBA had an offseason like this was probably the lockout summer of 98, or 1993 when Reggie Lewis and Drazen Petrovic both tragically passed away. This summer started off with the shocking allegations that NBA referee Tim Donaghy bet on games he reffed. Turns out, Donaghy was investigated for the past year by the FBI.
Kind of like how steroids did baseball, these allegations had the potential to scar the credibility of the league and the integrity of the games. The last thing people wanted was to know games were fixed as if they were WWE matches. So far into the 2007-08 NBA season there hasnt been too much of a backlash of referees and fan support as a result of Donaghys actions.
Also it was the summer of NBA players getting robbed. Both Antoine Walker and Eddy Curry were robbed and held hostage in their own homes. While these incidents were both in Chicago and probably connected, it reminded the rest of the league that NBA players are targets and need to be extra careful whether they are in clubs, at the mall or even at their own homes.
Over the summer, the league lost one of the most underachieving/troubled players in history. Eddie Griffin, a former high school player of the year and lottery pick, was tragically killed in a car/train wreck. While it is unclear whether this was simply an accident or a suicide, Griffin had battled alcohol addiction and depression his whole adult life, and it is sad he never was able to fully get it together. He had All Star potential - he was that good.
The NBA also had its share of off-court issues. From Wizards forward Andray Blatche getting caught soliciting a prostitute, to J.R. Smiths troubles, to Sacramento Kings forward Justin Williams being accused of rape - it wasnt a good PR year, thats for sure. And lets not get started on last years All Star Weekend in Vegas
This spot is reserved almost solely for the New York Knicks. Probably the biggest disaster on and off the court, this year has been nothing short of a nightmare for Isiah Thomas, Stephon Marbury, James Dolan, the fans and everyone else who is associated with that organization. Somewhere Larry Brown is laughing his ass off. Fans are rallying... check out this song that Queens group First Cousins did for their cause:
This also has been a year for underachieving. Dallas in last years playoffs suffered one of the biggest meltdowns in NBA playoff history. And so far this year, the Bulls, Jazz and Heat have severely underachieved.
So that is 07 in a nutshell. The new year promises to bring more surprises, more great plays and plenty of great ball. I, for one, cant wait!
And hey, at least New York Knicks' fans still have something to smile about when they look back on the 2007-2008 season...