Finally. As the dark clouds of war gather on the horizon, the trumpets signaling the arrival of our mighty gladiators beckon us once again into the arena.
Enough of the wheeling and dealing. Enough of the dance rehearsals. Enough of the meet-and-greet. “Behold, ye merry mortals, your feast of fun and fury cometh. Let the games begin!!!” Thus spake the booming voice of our cage god.
Indeed, these are exciting times.
We watched in awe as big stars such as former champ Kyrie Irving shimmied and shuffled across the entirety of the NBA geography, engaging new dance partners, trying new dance steps. We marveled as fresh new faces such as Lonzo Ball gave us a glimpse of what the league would look like in the years ahead. We wondered if the chemistry would work among new Dynamic Duos or the even more complex Triple Threats. And we asked how they can match up against Golden State’s Fabulous Four?
The Minnesota Timberwolves started the post-season ‘Star Wars’ when it plucked Jimmy Butler from Chicago to baby-sit a potential group of juveniles led by Jeff Teague, Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins. This is a young combo ready to give the seniors some lessons in contemporary ball.
More teams followed suit as they stocked up on star power to try to stop that juggernaut in the west named the Warriors.
Kyrie Irving exchanged his Cavalier digs for the Boston green. He is joining Al Horford and Gordon Hayward, who unfortunately got injured on his very first game with the Celtics. It looks like Gordon will be out for the season, stunning the Celtics’ faithful, and dashing their hopes for a great season.
Team go-to guys Carmelo Anthony of New York and Paul George of Indiana flew to Oklahoma to form a formidable triumvirate with current league MVP, Russell Westbrook. With steady big-man Steven Adams, this upgrade will outgun, outrun and out-everything most other opposition in the land.
Over in Houston, James Harden goes back to playing shooting guard with the arrival of Chris Paul. With the vastly improving Eric Gordon, the Rockets could give the Warriors a serious run for their money. And this was put in full display in their shock upset over the Warriors on opening day last Thursday.
In New Orleans, veteran point guard Rajon Rondo will lead the charge with big men Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins providing the demolition derby at the low post. Just a couple of snipers more and you’ve got a most dangerous band here.
In San Antonio, a healthy Kawhi Leonard leads the veteran pack of LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and newy-acquired Rudy Gay.
And then there’s the steady dynamic duos of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum of the Portland Trailblazers; John Wall and Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards; Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors. With better back-up support, any of these teams could go deep in the playoff action.
But the biggest challenge for the Warriors’ Fab Four will still be the Cleveland Cavaliers. Isaiah Thomas replaced Kyrie as Lebron’s second-in-command. Joining them are old vets Dwyane Wade, another former MVP – Derrick Rose, and of course, Kevin Love. Add to that another Boston migrant, Jae Crowder, and voila! This team’s upgrade is so evident, it bumped off 2 erstwhile starters – JR Smith and Tristan Thompson – to the bench.
Question is: will these star combinations work in total harmony? Will they be able to make music together as good as the league’s benchmark, the Warriors? For it is not enough to have superstars aboard, it is imperative to have them fit well together, be comfortable playing together, and share the ball unselfishly.
Indeed, this was by far the craziest off-season in league transfers. A total of 93 out of the 450 players in the NBA changed uniforms. That’s roughly a fifth of the league’s population. And there were too many big names that you could come up with an all-star cast from this list of hardcourt heroes. This is not to mention the bumper crop of rookies joining the league this year. Truly, it makes for a more fascinating season up ahead.
And so, enough of the appetizers. On to the main course. “Let’s get ready to rumble!!!!”