NBA 2011: A Year in Review

2011 was, to put it simply, different than any other NBA season I’ve witnessed. Maybe turbulent is the right word. From unexpected champions, to new teammates, to name changes and divorces, the NBA world entertained all of us each and every day.

The year began with Blake Griffin dunking on anyone who stood in his way, and the Big 3 forming in South Beach, creating a feel of enthusiasm coupled with disgust for NBA fans. Then, Carmelo forced his way out of Denver mid-season and made a move to NY to team up with Amare Stoudemire. We saw a change in dynamics in the NBA, with the league slowly dividing itself into two tiers: the top one, where the previous need of 1 or 2 superstars had increased to 3, and the bottom one, where mediocrity and failure runs rampant.

But, despite all that, most fans were able to find solace in the Dallas Mavericks, who quieted the Miami hype and put us at ease. Sorry Miami fans, you’re probably not part of the “us”. Crazy 1%.

After this insane playoff run, we witnessed an even wilder offseason filled with the NBA lockout, followed by weeks of rumors circling Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. Let’s just say, 2011 in the NBA was not a boring one.

Best Player

I’m not really sure if I can put anyone else here other than Dirk Nowitzki. I know players like Derrick Rose and LeBron James had tremendous statistical seasons, but the way Dirk elevated his game during the playoffs was a thing of beauty. And, guess what, he didn’t need players in their prime taking their talents to east Texas either!

Nowitzki transformed himself into the ultimate team player, one of the most clutch players in playoff history, and a player who seemingly could not be defended. Oh yeah, I think he became one of the few Germans that was loved by almost all Americans.

Dirk’s team beat the defending champions, the duo of KD and Westbrook, and the big 3 down in Miami. Even as I write this I can’t believe it happened. The efficiency was just remarkable. Thank you, Dirk, for allowing us to witness such performances.

Dirk’s 2011 Playoff Run: 27.7 PTS, 8.1 REB, 2.5 AST, 48.5 FG%, 46 FG% [21 games]

Best Dunker

Most would bring up Blake Griffin or Derrick Rose up for this category, but I have to give it to my man Pierre AKA Javale McGee. I still think he got robbed in the dunk contest. He will dunk on you, stare you down.. Then dunk on you again. The Javale-John Wall combo should fun to watch out in DC for years to come.

Here’s a compilation of some of his dunks from the 2010-2011 season.

 
NBA’s Top 50 Dunks from 2010-2011 Regular Season:

 
Most Hated

We can all agree this award would go to the league commissioner. Heil Stern! David Stern, whose reputation was once held as a shining example for all sports commissioners on how to run a successful league, is now looked at as nothing more than an animal who let his power tarnish his status.

I can’t even write this without getting frustrated, so I’ll make my point very clear. David Stern turned the NBA into a global business starting in the mid 80s, and he is definitely to be credited for the worldwide popularity of basketball. He piggybacked on the talent and appeal of MJ, and rode it to the top. But, there is clearly something wrong when you have two lockouts (1998, 2011) under your reign. Come on man. I won’t even get started on the whole Chris Paul trade to LAL that he nullified because one, I don’t think it’ll change the clippers one bit (organizations can’t change over night because of player movement, and LAC team will always be garbage with that management at the top) and two, complaining about the trade that never happened would make me that much more like Bill Simmons.

 
Most Random Headline

Metta World Peace. Previously known as Ron Artest, the LA Lakers Forward changed his name to Metta World Peace in an attempt to increase awareness and create more ‘love’ among all of us. I’m sure jersey sales had something to do with it too. Nonetheless, this blog appreciates Metta’s efforts at changing the world, and employed the ‘Metta’ idea into the title here. The Pali word metta is a multi-significant term meaning loving-kindness, friendliness, goodwill, benevolence, fellowship, amity, concord, inoffensiveness and non-violence. The Pali commentators define metta as the strong wish for the welfare and happiness of others.

Most Intriguing Story

The 2011 NBA Lockout. After a season where the NBA reached peak levels of popularity (since MJ days), where the international exposure of the brand was in its prime, where NBA merchandise was selling better than it had in over a decade, we saw it all come to a crash with the NBA lockout.

Us fan were left helpless as we watched a group of billionaire owners and millionaire players argue over how to split up millions and millions of dollars. During the work stoppage, we all ranted and complained about how fans would turn away from the game but once play began on Christmas Day they turned their TVs back on as the NBA saw record TV numbers.

For details on what the lockout was actually about, please read my previous posts in the ‘Lockout Series’.

One thing I will say though, the summer pro-am games we got to watch sure were something. Professional talents in local rec leagues? Sign me up.

 
With 2011 coming to an end, and 2012 right around the corner, there should be tons more headlines for us to converse, argue, and salivate over.  Here’s to the NBA, where headlines and highlights are endless.

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“See the serpent played tricks, run game like the Knicks
Build you up just to lose the championship”

Lauryn Hill – ‘Year of the Dragon’

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