Star Wars, NBA-Style

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

allstarlogo4opens IMAGE file As we approach the NBA All-Star break, we are witnessing the cumulative effect of much maneuvering on the part of the more dominant franchises.

The Spurs — the  defending champs — are the only team that has played a pat hand.

Summer ’07 saw the Lakers trying to make a deal to acquire K.G., which would ultimately fail.  But that effort would not be the last we heard from the Lakers.

Frustration and impatience on the part of the Lakers faithful had reached a fever pitch.  For those Laker fans, watching K.G. go to Boston was vexing to the nth degree.  The only development that calmed that angst was the emergence of Andrew Bynum as a legit force in the paint.  Laker fans were now envisioning having something to do in May or June after years of absence from the significant playoff games.

Then came an injury to Bynum that again pushed back the aspirations of Laker fans.  But then came the ultimate in deals from the blue. The Lakers got to acquire Pau Gasol, an All-Star center, from the Memphis Grizzlies for Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton and two first-round draft picks.  Presto-chango, and Laker fans are in heaven again.  Gasol is a solid performer who has the same aspirations and hopes as the loyal Laker fans.

Not to be outdone, the Phoenix Suns have gotten in on the act.  They have acquired Shaquille O’Neal to give them the sizable frontcourt presence that many thought was keeping them out of the championship round.  If the 2007 playoff season was any indication, there is something credible in that view.  Shaq has been quoted as saying that he will be able to adjust his talents to the Suns’ up-tempo, run-and-gun style.  The naysayers point to his conditioning issues and injury-plagued recent history.

In any event, this season has become very interesting for fans worldwide.  Will the Laker-Celtic duel of the ’80s be revived?  Will the Suns break through this year?  Will Detroit or San Antonio do their usual methodical march to the finals?  Whatever the outcome, the stage is set for a very interesting and competitive playoff season.  In all probability … the best in the last 20 years.

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