Changing of the Guard

Something funny happened on the way to what was supposed to be the best NBA post season in recent memory. Suddenly, the titans got old, and the next generation emerged. We all went into this assuming the Lakers would face San Antonio, and ultimately fight their way into the Finals, where they would go up against Boston or Miami. Then San Antonio got old, the Lakers got old and both Goliaths made whimpering exits. We expected Miami/Boston to be a heavyweight match. Then Boston got old and Miami came together as most of us hoped they never would. Suddenly the NBA playoffs are about something completely different than most of us expected.

So far, the playoffs seem a bit anticlimactic. But something really interesting is happening beneath the surface. While the old school make early exits, some surprising new contenders are emerging via triple over times, road victories and upsets. Atlanta, Memphis and Oklahoma City are all young teams loaded with talent and chemistry. And they aren’t going away anytime soon. Expect them all to be around for the foreseeable future.

It seems to me that two trends have emerged: superstar-loaded teams from big cities (MIA, CHI, BOS) and young, chemistry-loaded teams from small/mid markets (OKC, MEM, ATL, DAL). As someone who isn’t a big fan of the superstar/big market trend, I’m thrilled to see some of these mid-tier market teams come together. Basketball, more than any other team sport, is a team game. I’m an old school guy who loved it when Byron Scott knew his job was to drain jumpers. AC Green and Rambis knew they had to rebound. Coop knew he had to defend and shoot 3’s. Magic knew he had to create. Kareem knew he had to do damage in the middle. They worked as a unit, setting their egos aside for the greater good. Some of the young teams are showing the same kind of chemistry and team effort. It’s sad to see the Lakers and Boston go down like this, but seeing the young kids come together has been a blast. Three cheers for the new guard.

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About Bill Sanders

SVP of Personal Brand Management at PMK*BNC. Helping icons from all walks of life to connect with their fans and monetize their brands.
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2 Responses to Changing of the Guard

  1. Ross Grandolph says:

    Although I’ve been a Bulls fan my fan my whole life, I have more respect for smaller market teams like Oklahoma City, Memphis, and Atlanta. They do not have the money to attract a trio of super stars to instantly make their team a championship contender, so they build their team slowly over time through the draft and excellent player development training programs. My only concern for these teams is their ability to keep the players they have worked so hard to develop. I think some players believe they will get more national exposer playing in big markets, get more personal recognition because they will have a better chance of winning, which will ultimately make them more marketable and put more money in their pocket. I have a huge amount a respect for Kevin Durant because he challenged this way of thinking for rising superstars. He has remained loyal to Oklahoma City and the fans have remained loyal back. He has worked hard on his game, remained patient, and now he is getting a taste of success for the first time in his career. I hope other rising superstars can have the same mindset, because if they don’t, the small market teams will never have a chance have long term success.

  2. Ryan Sleeper says:

    These playoffs have been very surprising and gone a long way in debunking the “NBA is fixed” talk. As a Royals fan in KC, I know what it’s like to be a fan of a small market team that has no chance to win it all. The NBA is showing that there is room for some smaller market teams in the mix, but in the end, I still think the NBA is doomed to have only a handful of big market / superstar-packed teams that can actually win it all. This year, it looks like it’s either going to be Chicago or Miami, but I’m pulling for OKC.

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