Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My 2009-10 NBA Conundrum

With all the talk and hype about the summer of 2010 taking over the NBA stratosphere the past few seasons, it's understandable that the summer of 2009 was simply considered an afterthought before it actually came to be. But as we're all aware of now, this has been one the most busy, batshit-insane offseasons in recent memory.

The craziest part for me is the fact that two teams I despise, both of which call cities I cannot stand home, each added one of my favorite players to the fold. Yes, I'm talking about the Lakers and the Celtics, Los Angeles and Boston. And now I find myself completely and utterly disgusted that I may actually like the makeup of these two teams.

Of course, I already sorta came to grips with Boston when they added Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, two of my favorite players ever. I wanted desperately for both those men, especially KG, to get a ring, so it didn't sting quite as much to have Boston win in 2008, especially since the Sixers were far from contention. But now, I almost want to like the Celtics with the addition of Rasheed Wallace. Almost, but of course I cannot.

I, just like everyone else, can get frustrated with Sheed from time to time. I always imagined him becoming one of the greatest ever. Perhaps that's selfish of me. But, as Joey over at FreeDarko pointed out, there's a lot to love and appreciate in Rasheed Wallace. When his head is right, he's a selfless player with superstar skill, one of the best post defenders in all the land, and a simply unstoppable force on the blocks when he chooses to be. And he has no problem playing second (or third, or fourth) fiddle to his teammates, making the union with Garnett, Allen, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo a seemingly ideal fit.

Plus, the guy is a Philadelphian through and through. A Simon Gratz grad. A UNC Tar Heel. It's hard for me not to love the guy, flaws and all. And now he's a Celtic. If ever there was a guy who didn't fit a city, it's Rasheed Wallace in Boston. Take that for what you will.

But as far as a fit on the team, Rasheed offers so much more than that fatso named Big Baby it's not even funny. Sure, Sheed may be old, and last year he definitely sucked and stopped trying, but with KG around, something tells me Rasheed will bring his A game every damn night. And frankly, that's a scary thought — mixing crazy intense, with crazy accurate shooting, with crazy clutch star with just plain crazy. This Boston team is going to be fun to watch.

And the Celtics aren't the only ones. As much as I detest all LA stands for, I cannot deny the pure beauty in one Kobe Bryant's play. He's Philadelphia's shunned son, brought on by his own doings, but the fact remains, he plays the game as no one else does. Now his evil forces are joined with the NBA's poster child of evil.

I love Ron Artest. Always have. Always will. The guy is certifiably insane, but he's also one of the toughest players I've ever seen take the court. And man, can he D it up with the best of them.

But now he'll be donning the purple and gold. Alongside Kobe Bryant, the man he had a bit of a tiff with in the playoffs.

Seems absurd, right? Well, not if you recall that time Ron-Ron interviewed the Mamba himself.

This union is so crazy that it just might work. In fact, I don't really see how it can't. The Lakers, assuming they can bring Lamar Odom back, just replaced Trevor Ariza with Ron Artest. For those of you with delusions that Ariza is as good as Artest right now, just stop reading. You are stupid. Ron Artest is better than Ariza, making the Lakers better than the team that just won the championship. That's a little scary, no?

While I'm excited to see how Artest handles the limelight of LA and the demanding nature of Kobe, and greatly anticipate the lineup of Rondo, Allen, Pierce, Garnett and Wallace, I'm torn. I don't want to like anything about the Celtics or Lakers. Not a single thing. It's in my hate-filled Philadelphia blood. Boston is a nemesis, a frequent foe. I wish nothing good upon that city. And LA, well, it's the antithesis of Philadelphia — fake, laid-back, glitzy. I can't relate, and I don't want to. Los Angeles is for those who want to be seen, not those that actually care.

Now, there are bits and pieces that I find myself drawn to on each team. To be honest, I hate it. I hope both teams fail, but I'm going to enjoy watching Artest playing with Kobe and the head-exploding frontcourt of Sheed and Garnett.

Maybe the Spurs, with the addition of Richard Jefferson, the Cavs with LeBron and Shaq, or Orlando, with another one of my favorites, Vince Carter, can come out on top. That would be ideal because God knows the last thing either LA or Boston needs is another championship. And I'll feel much better about myself if neither team wins it all, so I don't feel so bad about liking the ideas behind the teams I despise.

BallHype: hype it up!

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