College ball great, pro ball even better
Many people these days prefer college basketball more than the NBA, but not me. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy college basketball. But, as far as I can remember, I would pretend I was Reggie Miller in my backyard making the last- second shot of the game. The NBA is something that is part of my everyday life.
Two of the big highlights of the off-season were the return of Phil Jackson as the coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, one year removed from writing a book in which he called Kobe Bryant “uncoachable.” Larry Brown left the Detroit Pistons who had been to the Finals the past two years, to coach the New York Knicks.
This year marked the return of Ron Artest, the Indiana Pacers’ forward who was suspended last season for the fighting in the stands incident in Detroit. Artest, whether you like him or not, is an incredible player. If the former defensive player of the year can control himself, the Pacers will definitely be a force in the NBA.
Besides the Pacers, the Eastern Conference has another couple teams to watch.
The Miami Heat, a game short of going to the finals last year, returns with the dynamic duo of Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal. The Heat brought in a few new players that will test the chemistry of the team and coach Stan Van Gundy is on the hot seat to succeed. If he doesn’t, look for former coach Pat Riley to be back on the bench soon.
The Detroit Pistons are the last undefeated team in the NBA this season. After Brown left for New York, they quickly got the best coach available in Flip Saunders. This is a team that thrives on playing tough defense, mix that with Flip Saunders’ offensive success he had in Minnesota and they’ll most likely be contending for the championship this year too.
As for the defending champions, the San Antonio Spurs return with the same nucleus of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker. The Spurs are the clear favorite this year to win again. Any other team will most likely have to go through the Spurs.
Lastly, onto the teams from Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The Timberwolves have cleaned house getting rid of Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell, players who were called a failed experiment at the end of last season by owner Glen Taylor.
Kevin Garnett, now in his 11th season and 29 years old, is not getting any younger. Overall, the playoffs are in sight, but anything beyond that is complete fantasy.
The Bucks, on the other hand, made huge upgrades in the off-season. New faces include Andrew Bogut, Bobby Simmons and Jamaal Magloire, which are all upgrades from last year. Don’t forget T.J. Ford’s return from injury. Resigning Michael Redd was probably the biggest news for the Bucks. Some say they overpaid to keep him but a player of Redd’s caliber you can’t lose for nothing. If I was a Bucks fan, I’d be a lot more excited about my team this year.
Weise is a junior print journalism major and a columnist for The Spectator.