By Michael Tapia
After a very active off-season, the start of the 2010-2011 NBA campaign is less than a month away. Expectations are high after so many high profile players swapped teams and everyone is eager to see how the league shapes up.
As we all know, the vast majority of the anticipation is centered on the Miami Heat after a mega shopping spree this summer that linked two out of the three best players in the world. Not only did Pat Riley bring arguably the best player in the sport to the Heat – but he also retained arguably the third best – and brought along what many consider the second best power forward in the league.
It can be argued that what Pat Riley executed this summer is an act of sports totalitarianism. The big signings of LeBron and Bosh tend to make people forget about the man who brought the city its first title – Dwyane Wade.
Right now, there are those who still argue that Kobe Bryant is still the best player in the league – but if so at 32 – how many more years can he still play “best player in the world caliber basketball”? Others around the league say that Kobe passed the “torch” to King LeBron, and many in the Miami Heat camp say that it will not be long before he passes the “best shooting guard in the league torch” to Dwyane Wade. The truth is that Kobe really didn’t look like the same finisher or “assassin” that we all know in May’s NBA Finals. With that said, how much longer will it be before James and Wade become the two best players in the league?
The most quiet signing of the three was Chris Bosh. Currently, the best power forward in the league, Dirk Nowitzki, is also 32 years old and of course the same question emerges that applies to Kobe. The Heat’s Chris Bosh is only 26 and it will only be two or three more years before Nowitzki’s level of play declines, and Bosh takes over as the top power forward in the league. Many people argue that it will be a tight race between Amar’e Stoudemire and him, but the truth is that Amar’e took a leap of faith by going to the Knicks. By leaving the Phoenix Suns, Amar’e relinquished the luxury of being fed the ball by the best distributor the league has seen since “Pistol” Pete Maravich in Steve Nash. Aside from giving up the best passer in the sport, he also gave up playing with talented athletes like Channing Frye, Jason Richardson, and Grant Hill who can create the double team more often and easier than the players on the Knicks. Not only did Amar’e give up all that, but as if that was not enough, he goes to a team cursed with mediocrity; just look at Channing Frye who excelled after leaving New York coincidently with the Suns. Other players who have had better careers after leaving the Knicks are: Zach Randolph (all-star), Trevor Ariza (championship) and Jamal Crawford (sixth man). After analyzing all these factors, it is safe to say that Amar’e will not be giving Chris Bosh a run for his money as the best power forward in the league.
Let’s fast forward a bit and imagine the NBA in two years when Kobe and Nowitzki are 34-35 and will not be able to contain this three headed apocalyptic beast called the Miami Heat. Who will be able contain them?
It was briefly rumored at Carmelo Anthony’s wedding that Chris Paul wanted to join him in New York. Amar’e, Carmelo and CP3 will give New York their “Big 3,” but is this enough to match up against the best small forward, shooting guard and power forward in the sport? I think not. Amar’e is not better than Bosh, Carmelo is not better than LeBron, and Chris Paul is not better than Dwyane Wade. Others say that Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic have a young talented team with players like Rashard Lewis and Jameer Nelson. Dwight Howard is the answer to Chris Bosh and the Heat’s inside game, but Rashard Lewis and Jameer Nelson are certainly not in the same league as Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. The only solution to this potential tyrannical dilemma would be to send Carmelo and CP3 to the Magic to join forces with Dwight Howard. Unfortunately, the only players who have the potential of balancing the competition against the Heat are Kevin Durant and Danny Granger, but they are under contract for several years to small market teams.
Did Pat Riley really hi-jack the league from Commissioner David Stern? Should we be looking forward to the 1956-1968 Boston Celtics? If Pat Riley has brought “basketgeddon” to the sport, the only thing the league can hope for is Super Bowl XLII like Finals.