This was the year LeBron James and Dwyane Wade came together and became the villains of the basketball world. Kobe Bryant became the foil to the boys from South Beach, the team America reluctantly accepted. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili made one last stand. Boston's Big Three tried to make another run but came up short. Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony revived the Big Apple. Shaquille O'Neal retired. Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin rose to power as the next big things in basketball.
This all happened in the span of eight months. And while it was an amazing soap opera of a season, it concluded nothing. There are still countless unanswered questions. Will LeBron and Wade get there on the second try? Will Kobe, Duncan or Kevin Garnett make one last push back to the top? Will the Knicks prove to be the real thing? Will any of those youngsters make the next leap and become true champions?
Not to mention the team that actually won it all, the Dallas Mavericks. Was that just a flash in the pan, or do they have another title run in them?
We all want answers. But at this rate, we may not get them for a while.
With awful timing, the NBA heads into an uncertain labor situation this summer — a lockout looking pretty much inevitable. The players want to keep making the big bucks, the owners need to stop hemorrhaging money and the two sides are hopelessly far apart. There are no quick fixes here. We're heading for a long, protracted debate between two stubborn parties.
This is the second year in a row we've headed into the summer with major offseason NBA news weighing on us. Last year, it was LeBron and all the other marquee free agents making life-changing decisions (most of them with that lowercase "d"). This year, it's a lockout.
Offseason intrigue is generally a good thing. LeBron's TV special was the best thing that happened to the NBA since Michael Jordan hung up the baseball cleats. It got people talking, it compelled them to watch and it reeled in fans on the periphery who never really cared before.
Unfortunately, a lockout isn't that kind of drama.
Just look at the NFL. It's been months since we've heard any real buzz about free agents, trades or anything of the sort. The draft came and went, but other than that there's been nothing but mudslinging about spoiled players and greedy owners.
The NBA can't have that. Not now. There's too much at stake.
David Stern knows that his legacy depends on what happens these next few months. With that in mind, compromise is key. But it's hard to be optimistic about a quick and painless resolution. Both sides are too strong-willed to easily give up too much.
It's a shame. We just witnessed a great season, punctuated by a surprisingly great NBA Finals with a lovable bunch of veterans beating the villainous Heat. But there was a giant storm cloud hovering over it all the entire time.
Let's hope this summer surprises us. Otherwise, we might be in for a long wait before all the NBA's burning questions are finally answered.