The East gets back some respectability
The general managers of the National Basketball Association (NBA) had a busy day on Feb. 24. Several trades occurred at the deadline to improve their team for the rest of the season or for next year by relieving the salary cap. The trade that will have the biggest impact will be the trade that sent Sacramento Kings power forward Chris Webber to the Philadelphia 76ers. This trade will be another step in balancing the Eastern conference against the West.
The shift started last season when forward and big man Rasheed Wallace came to the East via a trade. Wallace used to play on the Portland Trail Blazers and helped them compete at the highest level in the Western Conference. However, Wallace's contract was expiring, and he ended up with the Detroit Pistons.
The Pistons with the addition of Wallace made a championship run with the size to compare to the West. Wallace had spent considerable time playing power forward and center in the West guarding the likes of Tim Duncan, Shaquille O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki, Webber and others.
Despite being major underdogs to beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the finals, the Pistons used their size and defense to win in five games. Reporters and sports fans all over the country were surprised. After all, this was their first championship since the Chicago Bulls era led by the greatest player to step on the court, Michael Jordan.
Going into this season, the Pistons were again favorites to win the Eastern Conference. The Pistons had locked in Wallace to a long term deal and had thus, kept intact the same roster from a year before. The other teams looked strong for an Eastern Conference team, but that's when everything changed.
The Los Angeles Lakers fell apart with their two superstars, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, wanting to part ways after eight years. The Lakers management decided to keep Bryant because he was younger and let O'Neal pursue a trade.
Ultimately, O'Neal went from one paradise in Los Angeles to another in Miami. The combination of O'Neal with second year player, Dwyane Wade made the Miami Heat the favorites to win the East. Until the trade deadline, these two teams, the Pistons and Heat, appeared to be the only teams standing a chance to win the Eastern Conference and have a chance in the finals.
The Webber trade to Philadelphia will join him with one of the league's greatest players in Allen Iverson. Iverson leads the league in scoring average, 29.8, and is sixth in assists with 7.6 a night. He has been complaining recently that he has not had much support on his team.
Part of the support problem has been Iverson himself. The Sixers have had Jerry Stackhouse and Larry Hughes, who left Iverson to have success somewhere else. Stackhouse enjoyed years of success with the Detroit Pistons where he was their leading scorer. Hughes has had good success in Washington and averages nearly 22 points a game this year.
However, the difference between these players and Webber is that at that time in Stackhouse and Hughes career, they did not know how to be the secondary superstar. Webber after his time with the Kings knows how to play with other stars, such as Mike Bibby, Brad Miller and Peja Stojakovic.
In Webber, Iverson gets a big threat to do just about anything on the court. Webber stands 6' 10" but is extremely versatile that he is not limited to posting. He has a solid mid-range jumper but with his size is a definite inside presence. His numbers are excellent considering he plays with one knee as he nearly averages a double double, 21.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 5.5 assists showing his skill distributing the ball.
The Boston Celtics are now legit contenders as well because of the reunion of Antoine Walker and Paul Pierce. Walker definitely has improved his game over the one year in Dallas and half a year in Atlanta. Walker has stopped taking three pointers and now uses his size, 6' 9," in the post. Walker and Pierce used to enjoy playoff success when they were together and now that Walker has improved, they have a shot again.
Adith Sekaran. Adith Sekaran is finally a senior at Blair. Adith is a man who is a big time sports fan and can spend any day to its' entirety watching sports or ESPN. Football season is his favorite, which he spends cheering on his ‘Skins to no … More »