Thursday, June 21

The Rise of The New Era or The Rise of a Degeneration

For over 15 years, the 'big man' has dominated the NBA Championships and is regarded to as the one and only catalyst that any elite team lacks for that final push in the NBA Finals. For the past 15 years, four dominant big men from four different teams have led their team to the NBA's most coveted prize, namely: Shaquille O'Neal, Tim Duncan, David Robinson, and Hakeem Olajuwon; and if not for a generation overload named 'Michael Jordan', we would also have names such as: Charles Barkley, Shawn Kemp, and Karl Malone. It truly is a spectacle, and a blatant post to the forehead that dominant big men spell championships; which may play as the largest factor when deciding over the top pick in this year's up-coming NBA Draft. But little by little, slowly but surely, is the game evolving? Can the 'big man' still be considered as the priceless asset for any championship team? History says yes, but tiny speckles of history also whisper that it may not be the case sooner than everyone may expect.

In the case of the 'big man': A huge majority of the basketball world may already be believers that big men are the ladders to championships, which was emphasized by any commentating NBA analyst throughout the whole series of the Suns-Spurs playoff match-up. The suggestion that teams need a big man to make it through the post-season, with special regards to Tim Duncan, was mentioned over and over as the Spurs dispatched the Phoenix Suns. Miami Heat for instance, traded away 3 of their core players in exchange for Big Daddy Shaq and went on to win the NBA championship the season after. It was a one-hit-wonder, but a championship nonetheless. The Lakers may vouch for that, as they experienced 3 championships with Shaq; so can Hakeem Olajuwon and his back-to-back titles. Ben Wallace and the Pistons of 2004 may also jump in the mix for although Ben Wallace was not a force offensively, he was the center-link for the much-feared Detroit Pistons defense; something the Pistons team of this year obviously misses very much. Two teams that may act the biggest examples of the elite teams of this generation that can't catch that final breath to make it to the peak were eliminated fairly early in this year's playoffs: the Phoenix Suns and the Dallas Mavericks, so could there be any other possible proof that the 'big man' is not growing out of style and will continue to dominate championships for the next decade?

Entering the 'New Generation': The game may be evolving right before the very eyes of every basketball fan, and it is possible that no one may even notice it at all. Small ball, run-and-gun, and fast-paced offense have grown popular over the past six years dating back to the rise of the Dallas Mavericks; and many teams have started to buy-in on the rise of this stock. Some of these teams include the Toronto Raptors, the Phoenix Suns, the Golden State Warriors, and the Denver Nuggets; none of which made it further than the second round of this year's playoffs. So how can there be an argument against how the 'big man' will always and forever be on top as the small guys and runners will always be one step behind (figuratively and almost-literally with regards to how the Warriors could have easily swept the Jazz but were dismantled 4-1 instead)? The fraction of occurence. Slowly but surely, the new era of basketball has permeated closer and closer into the promised land. With regards to this year's NBA Champions, the San Antonio Spurs, credit must be given to their elite guard combo of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili. Tim Duncan has been his usual unstoppable self, something which is expected, but it can be put into question whether he would have won 2 of his 4 titles (without David Robinson) had it not been for his backcourt in Parker and Ginobili. This backcourt duo can not and should not be overlooked as the catalysts for this year's championship, and it is to a great delight to witness Tony Parker receive the Finals MVP Trophy, something he truly deserves given his outstanding play. Has it ever occured to anyone that maybe, just maybe, the only reason the San Antonio Spurs could have kept up with the Phoenix Suns' running-game was because of Tony Parker's speed himself? One may believe that if the Spurs had any other guard, given the same value Tony Parker is worth (maybe Chris Paul), they would have been beaten by the Phoenix Suns as the Spurs would have a hard time to keep up with them. However, that is just an opinion. So it is possible that credit may not go to the dominant big man, although Duncan has been a huge asset, but to the lightning-quick guard that is Tony Parker. Another case would be last year's champions: the Miami Heat. The Mavericks could have taken it last year, being led by a perimeter dwelling forward, but were beaten instead by Shaquille O'Neal and the Miami Heat. However, the fact of the matter is that Dwayne Wade led the comeback and the win for the Heat; Shaq is an undying asset, but Dwayne Wade made it happen. For now, all signs point to the 'big man' as king; but slowly, new seeds are born. All that remains is to wait for time.

The glimpse of a new era? Or only a tease? Will the new era fall flat on their face time and time again in the post-season? Or will they finally rise above all speculations and claim their throne? The argument still remains with whether the 'big man' can keep up with the running game or not, as the Spurs are not only led by a 'big man' but by one of the deepest and most well-rounded set of players the NBA has witnessed in generations. The question could have been answered had Steve Nash, a possible pioneer of the new era, and the Phoenix Suns could have went against the Boozer-led Utah Jazz in a series; sadly, it is not the case. The world will get to know the answer once the questions regarding drafting Oden or Durant is settled once and for all in the NBA's biggest stages on the basketball court; but for now, all anyone can do is speculate.

The New Era? Or a Degeneration? What is your case?

1 comment:

Rodrigo said...

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