Over the course of my life, I've watched countless NBA games. When I was in junior high and high school, I began to fall asleep damn near every night to a 10:30 tip-off between the Suns and Blazers or Sonics and Warriors or whatever the West Coast TNT game was that night, and that habit has stayed with me to this day.
However, with baseball just wrapping up, the NFL regular season at the midway point and the NHL underway — not to mention being older and getting tired much easier these days — I didn't think I'd be too bummed out about the NBA lockout delaying the start of the season.
But then last night I was on a conference call headed by my man Ed when NBA fanatic Justin Tinsely shared the emptiness he's feeling without the NBA. Then I started to recall all the great moments from the 2010-11 NBA season and that void Tinsley described began to unveil itself.
Last season was one of the more remarkable and exciting seasons in a long time. Of course, the headline was LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh teaming up and becoming the NBA's version of a soap opera. But there was plenty more beyond that. Derek Rose emerging as an unquestioned superstar en route to the MVP. Amare Stoudemire fleeing to the bright lights of New York City, later joined by Carmelo Anthony in a blockbuster trade. The emergence of the Oklahoma City Thunder, intensified by the perceived power struggle between Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook that came to a head in the postseason … not to mention the surprising Jeff Green for Kendrick Perkins trade.
Father Time looked like it finally was creeping up on mainstays like the Spurs, Lakers and Celtics. At the same time, rookies showed the league is in good hands moving forward, as Blake Griffin fulfilled all the promise and potential and more … as did John Wall.
Dwight Howard quietly had an MVP-caliber season. Kevin Love got nothing but love. Jerry Sloan surprisingly retired midseason, followed by Deron Williams being traded to the Nets.
And who can forget the awesome NBA playoffs? Not only did Dirk Nowitzki shed the label of soft and playoff underachiever on his way to leading the Mavericks to the title, but our very own 76ers gave the seemingly invincible Miami Heat all it could handle, including an exhilarating last-second win on Easter Sunday.
Being at that game was one of the most exciting spectacles I've taken in in recent memory. It was a great way to help build excitement for Doug Collins and the Sixers heading into the 2011-12 season, with another year under Collins to grow, Jrue Holiday turning into the real deal and Elton Brand bringing a toughness this team has lacked ever since Allen Iverson was shipped to Denver. Add in the new ownership slashing ticket prices, gathering fan feedback and planning to make the Sixers a hot ticket again, and this year was bound to be fun.
But alas, here we sit with no NBA action. The season was supposed to tip off last night with a slew of exciting games, and the Sixers were supposed begin their journey tonight in Toronto. Some people may not care. Hell, I thought I'd be one of those people to tell you the truth, at least until Christmas. But it turns out I do care, I do miss the early NBA action, and if you care about the NBA and basketball you should too.
Say what you want about the league's image and the players wielding the power. There is no substitute for the NBA. The level play is so far superior to anything else that's out there, and the stars in the league are the best on the planet. Last season, that was all on full display.
Sadly, we have no idea when we'll get to see our favorite players and favorite teams on the hardwood again. I definitely have the NBA lockout blues.