Saturday, October 24, 2009

High expectations for '09-'10 NBA season

NBA Commissioner David Stern’s no fool. He knows full well what’s in store for the 2009-2010 NBA season.

Over the last few weeks, Stern apparently must've worked behind the scenes and on Friday the NBA and regular refs finally ironed out a new two-year deal just in time for Tuesday night’s opening tipoff.

Apparently there was no way Stern was going to screw up the drama and action for the league or its fans this season.

Expectations are the highest in recent memory, so evidently Stern knew he needed his full-time guys on board to shore up things for this highly-anticipated 2009-2010 NBA season.

How could his league stage possibly one of its most exciting, memorable seasons in decades with scab referees jogging up and down the court?

For sure, there are plenty of intriguing questions and subplots entering into the ’09-’10 NBA campaign.

Yes, K.G.’s back. When Kevin Garnett (photo above) was healthy last season, the Boston Celtics were virtually unstoppable, racing out to a ridiculous 27-2 start. They added Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels in the offseason. So now what?

In Los Angeles, new acquisition Ron Artest says if the Lakers don’t repeat, blame it on him. With still the best player in Kobe Bryant, best coach in Phil Jackson and best set of complimentary players in the game, their chances look good. But is that hunger still there?

Big Shaq’s never been one to stay quiet or disappoint fans. This season Shaquille O’Neal has stated his mission with the Cleveland Cavaliers is to win a ring for The King, LeBron James. Who’s to say he can’t? He teamed to hoist NBA trophies with equivalent superstars, Bryant (2000, 2001 and 2002) and Dwyane Wade (2006).

In San Antonio, the Spurs (photo above) fell short on their traditional odd-year championship title (’99, ’03, ’05 and ‘07) in ‘09. So they reloaded in the offseason by acquiring Richard Jefferson, Antonio McDyess and rookie DeJuan Blair. But now can the aging Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili stay healthy?

Don’t sleep on the defending ’09 Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic who for some reason still seem to get little respect. The Magic appear poised to redeem themselves after falling short 3-1 during the 2009 NBA Finals in June. In addition to Vince Carter, they acquired Matt Barnes and Brandon Bass. But is that enough?

Then there’s still that “Who’s the best player on the planet?” debate. Kobe battling King James in the ’10 NBA Finals is quite viable… Also, there’s that “Which future NBA Hall of Famer will get his fifth championship ring first?” question. Bryant, O’Neal and Duncan equally have legit chances this upcoming year.

Appropriately, the 2009-2010 NBA regular season will start strong out the gates. On Tuesday night, a TNT doubleheader will feature the Celtics vs. Cavaliers in Game 1 and then the Lakers vs. Clippers in Game 2.

Which begs yet another question; will Baron Davis and 2009 NBA first-round pick Blake Griffin turn things around for the young Clips, who went 6-2 in the preseason?

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