And while you leave in celebratory fashion as you do every year, this year you leave me yearning for more. You leave me with so many questions. You leave and leave me with no choice but to wait impatiently for...what? Even this, you have failed to give me as you walk into the shadows of Los Angeles riots and parades with trade rumors flourishing under you.
Don't leave. Please.
Dwight Howard became known as the specimen of the NBA, with a flawless body and a game full of pain(t)ful force. Dwayne Wade returned, and the conversation about the best guard in the NBA included more than just one player. Brandon Roy thrust himself into stardom, and Portland will forever be grateful for the expectations of Greg Oden slowly faded thanks to Roy. Carmelo Anthony finally grew up and took his team to high-impact levels. The discussion of the best point guard in the NBA - which was once solidified in New Orleans - became an instant debate between a Chris Paul and Deron Williams, only to be further expanded to Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose and Aaron Brooks as the Playoffs definitely opened some eyes on some new youthful players.
Additionally, we potentially saw the end of some players' careers from the beginning of the season to the end, all the way til Sunday night. Former bash brothers Rasheed Wallace and Ben Wallace are question marks for next season. Many people have speculated Derek Fisher retiring on a high note. Forever admired, Dikembe Mutombo saw his career fall before him with one severe leg injury which a man at his age just can't quite recover from. Iverson put himself into the discussion of not returning to the league if a bench role is reserved for him. How long before sharp shooters like Brent Barry and Bruce Bowen hang up their shoes?
I remember all the hype exactly a year ago, when the NBA season ended and Olympic basketball was en route to take place. Nike had the basketball world and sneaker collective hyped about the newly created Hyperdunk, a shoe that was once looked as as an exclusive pair of sneakers. A gold medal and millions of shoes and colors later, here we are...spoiled to expect more men's basketball even after the NBA season and what seems two hoopsters in a pair of Hyperdunks in every pick-up game across the nation.
My good friend, the NBA...what am I to do now?
You leave me questioning your very existence now. With so much excitement from this past season, the All-Star game, the playoffs...you put myself and many other basketball fanatics in limbo wondering what is next.
Your team captain, known by the name of David Stern was once quoted calling you one of the most stable establishments and a prime investment even in this economy. However, now we only hear about teams looking to rid of players and contracts to save money. We hear about teams deathly afraid to go over the luxury tax. We hear about how free agents this summer will struggle to find deals because teams are afraid to spend. Here in LA, we hear complaints about a parade and push for the NBA and Laker organization to pay for a parade rather than the city. While I understand the valid point, because of this...NBA, my good friend, it will only become much more expensive to join your presence on a regular basis.
I know your dreams were crushed when a Cleveland team (which many of us thought to be a great team only to realize by May that this team has one player, and one player only) failed to get to the league's biggest stage. Surely, only then would you have been completely satisfied with the journey you embarked on in October. Surely then, would we have not heard some ludicrous ideas of shifting the league around and bringing Shaquille O'Neal to Cleveland.
Surely, you will understand how unfair it is to the rest of the world, that you will allow Shaquille O'Neal, one of the biggest big men in NBA history, to play full seasons with Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade and Lebron James, all three of whom will be considered among the most elite guards to ever play in the L. NBA, my good friend, do you really think this will help Cleveland? It could, but is it just an effort to create some sort of buzz around the league Do you think it will help the league? Will you then, also send Shaquille O'Neal to Los Angeles as a free agent to end his career in the very home he created a defining legacy?
Is this why you have sent hints around the league about Ray Allen being traded? About Manu Ginobili being traded? Are you so disappointed with such an uninspiring draft class that you asked an American basketball player turned Euro professional to take cheap shots at one of the most hyped up Spanish point guards in the draft? Is this why you started the Phil Jackson retirement conversation immediately rather than waiting a few weeks?
While I do understand your potential methods of spicing up the league in what could be one of the most silent off-seasons before one of the loudest next summer, is this all your beginning of something enigmatically climactic?
While some people may not know...I do know that the collective bargaining agreement is soon coming to an end, and from the looks of the economy, disgruntled organizations and players that another lockout is on its way. Will you stop this from happening? Shouldn't this be your concern? Will you re-evaluate how poorly your league's officiating has become, or does that add more spice to your life?
Please do understand, I am not criticizing you for you efforts, as you are an instrumental part of my life. I care for you like I care for my family. And as such, I only ask for the best of you and the best in you. But a selfish part of me needs you. And with the season ending to a quiet off-season, I have only questions left unanswered...
Come back soon.