Fifteen names that defined the ’09-10 regular season.
by Brad Graham
Identifying the NBA’s blue ribbon standard, at each and every position, is easy, right? We have a standard operating procedure that suggests those with gaudy statistical outputs, who’ve directly contributed to the win column, receive all the righteous recognition once can muster. When you combine the ever growing number of stat based evaluations with an athletes overall locker room presence, their uncanny sense of the moment and genuine peer admiration, it doesn’t take Christopher Langan to distinguish between Steve Nash and Steve Novak.
Coming into the ‘09-10 season, Dwight Howard, Yao Ming and Nene were obvious choices to rule the NBA’s paint. Likewise, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol ranked as 1-2-3, respectively, in the PF column. We all knew LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Paul Pierce defined what a small forward should provide; while Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and either Vince Carter, Brandon Roy or Joe Johnson (depending on what you need) registered as the L’s top two men. Then there were playmakers Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Chauncey Billups, who appeared to have the PG standards all locked up, often bringing three kinds of heat like Jack Donaghy’s trivection oven. Know that these 15 (or so) names were my All-NBA Team predictions (way back in late October, 2009), making the ‘09-10 campaign a touch more than enthralling… and a few predictions short of being remotely close.
As stated back in early December, I’m at complete odds with the NBA’s current G, G, F, F, C All-NBA listings. I believe they cheapen the value of the Teams and remain a form of cheating (that leaves room for far too much fence sitting). Maybe the NBA enjoys playing it safe, or playing it predictable, when voting instructions ask for ballots to remain general. My view, if you’re looking back at the 82 games played and you can’t decide which players became tent poles (for their respective spots), you either didn’t watch enough basketball or you’re the Gas Station Proprietor in No Country For Old Men – you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Of course, deciding who should fill out the respective All-NBA Teams is never helped when the season is riddled with star injuries, surprising standouts, unrelenting vets, defiant rookies, disappointing franchises and more falls from grace than a Tiger Woods convention. On that note, the ‘09-10 season showed me, above all else, that the post Jordan era of standouts, my favorite players growing up, guys like Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, Rasheed Wallace and Kevin Garnett, especially KG, are now closer to hip op.s than Hip Hop. This of course messed around with my psyche and forced me to recast my NBA net a little wider, in search of something a little younger, so I can enjoy the game, again but I digress.
Despite the obvious dilemmas my rules and rationale often introduced, the reasoning remains the same. Don’t we want history to preserve the best at each position? Isn’t that what this whole end of season awards hoopla is really all about? If Kobe’s peak coincides with Michael Jordan’s (and thus Kobe is never truly deserving of a First Team slot because he was his generations No. 2), isn’t that a truth worth saving? That’s how I’ve felt for years. Don’t we want to all try and figure just who future generations need to remember? Isn’t that what makes us tune in? Isn’t the forced decision making process the best way to sort through the fact that every campaign is jam packed full of mysteries, truths, failures, lies, manipulations, surprises, revelations, bombshells, malfunctions, breakdowns, apprehensions and discoveries?
I’m the first to sound off about how we all see the game, its players, their interactions, the instant an long term reactions as well as the various outcomes (not to mention everything in between) a little differently. So with all that in mind, it’s time take a step back, do what Agent Dave Kujan (obscure The Usual Suspects reference No. 1) did and look at the season for what it was, not what we were told it was… so without further ado… This is how my All-NBA Team Tracker, a first for SLAMonline unfolded…