will you be remembered? A question one must look deep inside to find
the answer. I think a lot of people would judge their legacies based on
accomplishments and lives they've impacted. If this is indeed the case, David Stern will no doubt leave behind a memorable legacy when he steps down from his role as NBA Commissioner in 2014.
recently turned 70 and has decided to end his tenure as commissioner
after 30 years in that position. What he leaves behind is a league that
is far better off than when he took over it in 1984, and it's possible
his biggest accomplishment is only just beginning. A rebirth of a
rivalry that would make Tupac and Biggie proud. The time is now to
choose a side...
The future looks bright for two of the leagues most important markets; New York and Los Angeles. The New York Knicks, L.A. Lakers, Brooklyn Nets, and L.A. Clippers,
together have the potential to energize the league now, and into the
foreseeable future. Much of David Stern's success has come from building
up these big market teams, and now the rivalries that may emerge from
them should be the catalyst that helps lift the NBA to new heights. East
coast versus West coast in a battle of opposing cultures that fans will
embrace and be drawn to for years to come.
start by looking at the Lakers as they have been the most relevant team
of the group during the last decade. Having appeared in three of the
last five championships series, and winning two of them, the Lakers have
been a significant force in the NBA almost yearly. This season's team
has started slow but one can look at injuries and lack of chemistry to
explain the lackadaisical start. During the offseason the Lakers managed
to put together trades to acquire two former all-stars in Steve Nash and Dwight Howard.
However Nash has been out for a large majority of the season with a
broken bone in his leg, and Howard is still settling in to his role with
the team, while facing his own demons at the free-throw line.
said all that, you'd be crazy to think the "Showtime" Lakers won't be
playing ball in the playoffs this year. Once they're back to full
strength and get a much needed rhythm to their offense, there won't be
much to stop Kobe Bryant from carrying the team back to their
potential. If it's true the "Black Mamba" plans to retire after next
season, he'll want to go out on a high note, and I won't be the one who
bets against him.
what does the East coast have to offer to counter the legacy of the
Lakers? The new and improved New York Knicks. Over the last couple
seasons the Knicks have taken huge strides to fill the seats of Madison
Square Garden once again. Today's NBA market is run by star power and
the Knicks have filled that void with scoring machine Carmelo Anthony. They've coupled him with former Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler, and surrounded them with key role players such as Jason Kidd and Amare Stoudemire, both former all-stars themselves.
result of these rosters moves is a vastly improved ball club that New
Yorkers can get excited about and be proud to root for. The Knicks have
had a successful and storied history and this era's team has fans seeing
a winning culture flourishing once again.
As long time Knicks fan, and courtside trash talker Spike Lee puts it, "It's like the old days."
the New York Knicks can truly return their play to "the old days",
Madison Square Garden may be adding to their championship banner count
in the near future.
building momentum in both cities doesn't stop with just the Lakers and
Knicks. With the Jay-Z influenced re-branding and relocating of the New
Jersey Nets to Brooklyn, and the emergence of "Lob-City" in L.A. for the
Clippers, Stern and the NBA have made sure the cross-country rivalry is
not just a two team affair.
This years off-season was perhaps the most important in years for the Nets franchise. Majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov provided funds for the teams move to their new home in Brooklyn, while minority owner Jay-Z
has helped put a spotlight on the new branding for the teams revival.
What has emerged is marketing gold. A sleek new logo with a clean black
and white color scheme, and an arena in the Prospect Heights
neighborhood of Brooklyn, that will not only draw fans in droves but
will induce a new level of pride in a city that has basketball deep in
to be outdone by the glitz and glam of a new arena and marketing
direction, the actual basketball product being put on the hardwood has
had it's share of vast upgrades as well. The team managed to lock up
it's star point guard Deron Williams, while adding the underrated all-star Joe Johnson. The Nets also managed to retain center Brook Lopez, and forward Gerald Wallace,
giving the team a strong presence in the paint along with the defense
and energy of Wallace. What this "Core Four" brings to the Nets is a
young team that is ready to compete in the East immediately and fill
seats in the newly opened Barclays Center for years to come.
you're L.A. and you see a second powerhouse franchise building up in
New York, you'd hope your city can keep up with it's rival market in the
east. This is perhaps where David Stern has had the biggest influence
on creating this enduring rivalry. Last year around this time a trade
was put together to send star Point Guard Chris Paul from the New
Orleans Hornets to the Lakers. All seemed final until David Stern
ultimately nullified the trade for "basketball reasons" citing that the
league controlled Hornets would be better off keeping Paul than
accepting the trade offer from the Lakers. Later that week Paul was
traded to the L.A. Clippers in exchange for a package of players and
draft picks, thus giving birth to "Lob-City".
Pairing Chris Paul and the "Prince of Posterizing" Blake Griffin
on the same team gives fans of the alley-oop a reason to watch the
game. L.A. is known for being a flashy city and Paul's play fits that
bill to a tee. The Clippers also feature a supporting cast of promising
young players such as Center DeAndre Jordan, and experienced roles players like defensive-minded Matt Barnes, and scoring spark plug Jamal Crawford.
The Clippers may not be on the same popularity level as the team they
share a building with, but they are certainly on their way.
all was said and done David Stern's cancelling of the Paul trade to the
Lakers led to the Clippers suddenly having a relevant and talented
team, and caused the Lakers to prioritize the acquisition of Dwight
Howard to be their dominate center and star of the future. These moves
have positioned the L.A. teams to be contenders with the equally
improving New York franchises right away.
fans are left with are four teams who, with the exception of the
Lakers, have all increased their winning percentages over the last three
years and so far look to continue that trend into this season. These
four teams are all positioned well for the future and that future starts
now. Some sports pundits have complained the last two years that the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder
winning championships are bad for the sport because they're not
necessarily in the leagues biggest markets. This may not be a problem
two cities have had a history of not liking each other and if that
cultural aspect has any influence on the way fans root for their teams,
we may be in for some legendary rivalries. It started with Bad Boy vs.
Death Row, continued with Tupac vs. Biggie, and now we have Lakers vs.
Knicks and Clippers vs. Nets. The league has seemingly realized the gold
mind they're sitting on. They've made sure the Christmas Day schedule
includes a nationally televised game between the Knicks and Lakers and
something tells me David Stern may have had a say in that decision as
you're a fan of the flashing lights of Hollywood, or the gritty
streets of New York, you've got to be happy with the direction both
cities' teams are taking. Stern will be remembered for many things he
has done for the league. But if the New York and L.A. teams all become
yearly contenders, the rivalry games and fan interest generated by them
may end up being the most enduring stamp he has helped place on the
game, as well as leading these powerhouse markets back to relevance.