The 2007-2008 NBA season is right around the corner. I've had a touch-and-go relationship with the NBA. Growing up, I watched a lot of the Spurs because of David Robinson (he was in the Navy, my dad was in the Navy, so I made a connection) and I was one of the 85% of the nation who rooted MJ on in his first three-peat. I also followed the Celtics and hated the Bad Boy Pistons (sorry Dobry & Maryann). I loved the beauty of Bird's jump shot and the stoic nature of Robert Parrish. I was enthralled by the "Showtime" Lakers of the 80's and dug the Kurt Rambis look.
But over the past 10 years, my relationship with the NBA has been luke-warm at best. After the first Bulls three-peat, I began to cool on them. Between them and the Rockets, I just didn't give a damn. I loved Charles Barkley, but after the near-miss in '93 against the Bulls, he began to fade a bit, though he did a great job with the Rockets, just nearly missing the Finals in '97. The Spurs won the title in '99, but it was a strike-shortened season. After that, I watched solely out of hatred for the Lakers and hoping to see them lose, but neither the Trailblazers or the Kings could ever put them away. I just hated the whole "Dynasty" aspect of the league, mainly because I didn't have a team I was emotionally invested in.
I followed the Spurs when I could, rejoicing in their 2003 title, but then Robinson retired and I was left without a favorite player. The Hornets had moved to New Orleans and I did my best to follow them, but they were kind of bad in a highly competitive Conference and I never really followed the Mavs because I can't stand Nowitski, though I love Nash.
In fact, my association with ALL basketball waned, as I began following college basketball less and less. I always loved March Madness, but I also loved the regular season as well. Even though the SEC didn't dominate and Auburn was always mediocre and over the years, I just found it harder and harder to care.
Even when Chris Paul joined the Hornets, I couldn't get back into basketball. The quality of NBA play became atrocious (for reasons I can't describe because I am unknowledgable because of said lack of following the game) with teams scoring 70-80 points a game, especially in the Eastern Conference, and, being based in the east, these are the teams I saw more coverage of.
In the summer of 2004, I joined Pete and Misko in rooting against the Lakers and actually FOR the Pistons during the Finals, watching every game at the recently rehabbed and reopened Rendezvous Tavern on Magazine St. While New Orleans isn't a huge NBA town, it was great sitting there with 15 other people, all of whom were rooting AGAINST the Lakers more then FOR the Pistons.
My move to Chicago in the fall of 2006 did little to rekindle my interest in the sport outside of following the playoffs and tournaments. Even the George Mason cinderella run didn't do much for me.
What finally got me back into the sport was the duo of Greg Oden and Kevin Durant lighting up the NCAA last year. Watching Oden just dominate the Big 10 with his quiet, stoic manner and then seeing the opposite of that, the young, flashy Durant, they were both so much fun to watch. For the first time in years (and by years I mean at least 10), I was actually checking basketball schedules to make sure I saw every Texas and Ohio State game I could, particularly the Longhorns. I even followed the Lottery for the first time in the same time span, curious to see where Durant and Oden would end up.
Now, they're both in the NBA, even though Oden is tragically done for the season before it even began. But Durant is still in Seattle and even though they're a west coast team and destined for many a 9:30 tip-offs on TNT and ESPN, I'll make a point of following him. There certainly aren't any players as electric as those two in the NCAA, but they've done the job: I'm hooked on basketball again.
I'm even beginning to get myself ramped up for the Bulls. Unbeknownst to me, the Bulls were apparently decent last year, as evidenced by their run in the playoffs. Not that I would have noticed because by then I was already into the swing of the Cubs season.
I'm also gearing up for another year of Fantasy NBA. I'm pretty excited about all of this. It'll be the first time in a long time I've followed the NBA closely and I'm pumped. We'll see how long I can maintain the momentum.