With the NBA season tipping off tonight, we here at 4th and Fail bring you an A to Z list of what to look forward to this season.
A is for Artest. Yes, Ron Artest, now with the Houston Rockets. Artest, T-Mac and Yao in the same lineup, that’s impressive. Artest himself said that with those three together, if they don’t win a title, it’s a failure. Let’s see how he adjusts to his new surroundings.
B is for Boston. After a year in which the Pats went 16-0 in the regular season, the Red Sox won the World Series and the Celtics won the NBA title, the Patriots lost Tom Brady for the season (maybe longer), and the Sox were ousted from the playoffs by the normally futile Rays. Is this a bit of karma for the city of Boston?
C is for CP3. Chris Paul is coming fresh off a breakthrough season. Can he be this year’s MVP, or more importantly, can he navigate his team through the Western Conference and into the NBA Finals after a semifinal loss to the Spurs?
D is for D-Wade. Dwyane Wade is coming off of a turbulent season where the Heat went 15-67, and he underwent season-ending knee procedures. He looked like the best player on a stacked USA Olympic squad, and wants to prove to the league that he’s still the Flash from the 2006 NBA Finals.
E is for Erik Spoelstra. Speaking of the Heat, this season they are being led by Erik Spoelstra, the youngest coach in the league, and the first Filipino-American head coach in the league. He’s got a lot of young talent to work with, with Wade, Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers. Throw in Shawn Marion and Udonis Haslem, and the Heat will definitely improve form last season’s disaster.
F is for First Round, as in, the first round of the playoffs. Mentioning T-Mac again here, but can he make it past the first round now that he has Yao and Artest?
G is for Gregg Popovich and his beard, in all of its bushy glory. He’s been letting it grow all through the preseason, recently giving it a trim. I believe Tony Kornheiser has an over/under on how long it will get this season.
H is for Hair. Joakim Noah, Ben Wallace, Anderson Varejao and now Robin Lopez are nominees for craziest hair in the league this year.
I is for Iguodala. Andre Iguodala and the 76ers reloaded with their new addition of Elton Brand in the front court. Can they be a threat in the East this year?
J is for Jesus Shuttlesworth. Jesus Shuttlesworth, quite possibly the best name in basketball, ever. You may know him as Ray Allen though. So now that he and Kevin Garnett have their rings, do they become complacent? Or do they manage a repeat?
K is for Kapono. Jason Kapono, that is. He’s the two-time defending three-point shootout champion. Can he go for the threepeat at this year’s All Star Game?
L is for LeBron. Does this one really need an explanation? The man is the best driver of the basketball the league has ever seen, just ask Skip Bayless. With a solid point guard this year, this might be his year to make another run at a title.
M is for Mamba, as in Black Mamba, as in Kobe Bryant. He’s a scoring assassin, and finally made it back to the NBA Finals without Shaq last season. Now he has Andrew Bynum healthy, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom filling out his front court.
N is for Nets. Sure, they’re impending move to Brooklyn has been pushed back, but this offseason they’ve been working on making cap space, moving Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson in the past year, probably preparing to make a run at the King James sweepstakes in a couple of seasons.
O is for Oden. Greg Oden, who has yet to play an NBA game since being the first overall draft pick in 2007. Is his presence going to push the youthful Trailblazers over the hump and into contention in the West? Oden can be a force for years to come, a true big man. You can’t teach being seven feet tall.
P is for Playoffs, as in Western Conference Playoffs. There are eight playoff spots in the ultra-competitive Western Conference, and ten high quality teams: Lakers, Spurs, Hornets, Jazz, Blazers, Warriors, Rockets, Mavs, Suns and Nuggets. How many wins will it take to clinch a berth this season, and who will be the odd men out?
Q is for Question of the Year: Is Pat Riley really done coaching? He handpicked his successor this time around (Spoelstra) just like he did last time he stepped down from the Heat’s head coaching position (Van Gundy). But have we seen the last of the Armani suits and slicked back hair on the sidelines, or will Riley usurp Spoelstra’s position at the first sign of promise, like he did to Van Gundy.
R is for Rookie of the Year. So many quality candidates this season: Michael Beasley, Derrick Rose, O.J. Mayo, and let’s not forget that Oden is technically still a rookie, despite being drafted in 2007. Can the 2007 draft class win a second Rookie of the Year award, or will the 2008 class hold off Oden and claim what's rightfully their's?
S is for Sir Charles. Charles Barkley recently said in an interview that he would consider running for governor of Alabama, we here at 4th and Fail would vote for him, but then we wouldn’t be able to listen to his priceless rhetoric with EJ and Kenny on TNT all season. The Round Mound of Rebound, what a knucklehead. We look forward to another great year of quotes from you, Chuck.
T is for Thunder. Yes, the Oklahoma City Thunder. So long Seattle, we’ll miss all those cuts from the cameramen of the fish markets in town. Will this change of scenery really help Kevin Durant and Co.?
U is for Usurping. We just want to reiterate the fact that we are convinced that Riley will undoubtedly replace Spoelstra as soon as the Heat begin to succeed.
V is for Vinny Del Negro. How does the first year Bulls coach do this season? Can he lead a talented young group, led by Rose and Ben Gordon into the Eastern Conference’s elite?
W is for Win. Who will walk away this season as champions? Can the aging Spurs pull off another run, for their fifth title since 1999?
X is for X-Factor. Yes, we’re talking about James Posey. Everybody seems to be making such a big deal of his move to New Orleans with the Hornets. Yes, he was a key contributor to two of the last three NBA Championship squads. Can he do it again this year with Chris Paul and company?
Y is for Youth Movement. With stars like Shaq, Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen all aging, is it time the league’s youth movement truly takes over with the likes of LeBron, Wade, Oden, Paul, Rose, Beasley, Mayo, Deron Williams, etc.
Z if for Zero, as in Agent Zero: Gilbert Arenas. When he does make his eventual return to the court for the Wizards, will he be the Agent Zero of old, or will he have a tough time recovering from knee surgeries?
That being said, enjoy the tipoff of the 2008-09 NBA season, folks!