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Dark days & silver linings
by rick olivares pic by kelvin kuo of usa today
In a discussion with basketball writer Bob Ryan, Pardon The Interruption mainstay Tony Kornheiser made an excellent point that this could be the first season where the two premier franchises of the NBA – the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers – could jointly miss the play-offs for the first time in NBA history.
It’s both good and bad in my opinion.
It’s good because you want other teams to have their time in the sun. As much as the Boston-LA rivalry ushered the league to new heights in the 1980s, it also meant that there really wasn’t any parity in the league despite Philadelphia and Houston occasionally crashing the finals scene.
But after the 80s, we’ve seen other teams create their own dynasties – the Chicago Bulls, the San Antonio Spurs, and the Lakers of the new millennium. The Miami Heat, winners of the last two Larry O’Brien trophies are making noises about being mentioned in the same sentence.
The Celtics currently sit at 12th place in the Eastern Conference standings with a 22-43 record while the Lakers are dead last in the Western Conference (15th in case you’re not sure) and a 22-43 record.
Boston is in rebuilding mode after dismantling the team that won the NBA title in 2008. The Lakers are reeling from devastating injuries and dissension from within the organization. The once model NBA franchise has found itself the latest hit Hollywood soap opera (not to mention tabloid fodder).
One things is sure about these two teams – they’ll turn things around. But in the meantime, other teams like Oklahoma and Indiana getting a chance to win a title is good for the league in the light of the out of bounds and uncalled for comments by Minnesota Representative Pat Garofalo.
The Gopher State Republican made derisive comments about NBA teams folding and correlating them to street crime.
Nevertheless, as of press time, of the 16 teams from both conferences in the play-off picture for now, half of them have yet to lift the Larry O’Brien trophy. And in the last 10 years, there have only been two first-time NBA champions – Miami in 2006 and Dallas in 2011. Other teams to book a finals seat for the first time included Cleveland and Oklahoma City.
I believe that parity is good for the league in championships and not just television broadcasts. If you look at the Spanish La Liga, how demoralizing is it for 18 teams that in the very first week of every season, you know that the championship will come down to either Barcelona or Real Madrid?
When I was working for Solar Sports as marketing manager several years ago, as much as we wanted to jam the local airwaves with games of the Lakers, Celtics, Bulls etc. we were told that we have to show matches by other squads. For exposure and for fans to get to see other teams.
It’s not an ideal situation for Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers fans but behind every storm cloud there is a silver lining.
For them and for the league.