W10: Top NBA Stories of 2011

10) Ray Allen breaks Reggie Millers all-time 3-point record

During a February matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers, Celtics guard Ray Allen hit his 2561st 3-point shot to break the NBA record held by former Indiana Pacer Reggie Miller. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTP8KUpoHfg Afterwards, Allen would run over to the announcer’s table and embrace Miller, who was in attendance doing commentary for TNT. Ray Allen is a true master of the Basketball jumper, and now standing alone on top of the mountain as the NBA’s all-time 3-point specialist just further solidifies himself as one of the greatest shooters in league history.

9) Derrick Rose arrives; wins league MVP

Guys like Lebron James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant may have had better statistical seasons, but no player was more valuable to his team in 2011 than Derrick Rose was to his Chicago Bulls. Averaging 25 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds a game, Rose helped lead the Bulls to the best record in the Eastern Conference (62-20) and a spot in the Eastern Conference Championship. In a league dominated by talented point guards such as Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Steve Nash, Rose winning the 2011 MVP award puts him into that elite class and possibly heads and tails above all of his competitors. With Rose at the helm of the Bulls, the Windy City can safely pine for championships for the first time since the Michael Jordan era.

8) Carmelo Anthony gets traded from Denver to the Big Apple

A huge trend that emerged in the NBA this past year were teams trying to get compensation for a star player who was otherwise ready to leave in free-agency. Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony was the biggest name of them all that got sent packing in 2011, as he and 9 other players were moved in a deal that resulted in Anthony landing with his hometown New York Knicks. The Nuggets were fortunately not harmed in a major way by losing their star player, as the team went on to win 50+ games and advance to the playoffs. Carmelo currently still plays with the Knicks, and joins fellow teammates Tyson Chandler and Amare Stoudemire in hopes of taking the blue and orange deep into the playoffs in 2012.

7) #8 Memphis Grizzlies eliminate #1 San Antonio Spurs

Rarely in sports do you ever see a Cinderella story as great as the one the Memphis Grizzlies had in the opening round of the 2011 NBA playoffs. Only on 2 other occasions as an 8th seed upset the #1 seed, making what the Grizzlies accomplished even more special. Missing their top scorer and best player in Rudy Gay, the Grizzlies found a way to stop the Spurs big 3 of Duncan, Parker and Ginobili and take them down in 6 games. Unfortunately for Memphis, their spectacular run came to an end at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the next round, but what Memphis proved by ousting the Spurs was that this team should never be taken lightly again.

6) Legends retire; Phil Jackson and Shaq call it a career

The greatest coach in NBA history and the most dominant big man ever both decided to call it quits in 2011. Phil Jackson retires as the winningest coach in the history of the league with 10 NBA Championships with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. Shaquille O-Neal leaves the league with 4 Championship rings, 15 All-Star appearances and a league MVP award. In his prime, he was the definition of domination. On the offensive and defensive ends of the court, you couldn’t control him. Even though his presence on the basketball court will be missed, you can still catch the Big Aristotle today as he joins Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith on the TNT NBA Halftime Panel. As for Phil Jackson, he can now walk off into the sunset and enjoy the remaining years of his life knowing that there may never be another coach as accomplished as he was.

5) The Blake Griffin Show

If for whatever reason you don’t get Sportscentre on your TV, then you missed the abundance of highlight-reel dunks by Clippers forward Blake Griffin that electrified Basketball fans in 2011. From his first points in the NBA to his outstanding performance in the Slam Dunk competition, Blake Griffin was dunking the ball with authority and fans were taking notice. He single-handedly made the Clippers relevant and watchable in 2011. He is a once-in-a-lifetime athlete who has the god-given talent to evolve into a premier power forward for the league.

4) Year one of the “Heatles

All of the pressure in the world was on the shoulders of Lebron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in 2011. After forming perhaps the greatest trio in NBA history and predicting numerous championships for the city of Miami, a lot was going to be expected and anything less than a title was to be considered a failure. Despite a less than stellar start to the season, the Heat still finished with 58 wins, a Southeast divisional title and a trip to the NBA Finals. Even though they couldn’t accomplish their goal and obtain a ring year one, they still proved that 3 elite players could mesh well and win together in a short period of time. If they were able to make the NBA Finals after just one season, just imagine what these 3 can do down the road.

3) Chris Paul to Lakers trade canceled; ends up with Clippers

New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul was originally going to be traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in a deal that would have sent Lakers center Pau Gasol to the Houston Rockets. After complaints from NBA owners on the fairness of the deal, the trade was then cancelled in a decisive move by commissioner David Stern. Many skeptics dubbed this trade debacle to be a “league conspiracy”. Since the Hornets had no ownership group running the team, Stern had to be the one making team decisions. But considering he is the leagues commissioner, any decision he made or would have made would have been deemed sketchy and overly favorable to certain teams.  Ultimately nothing came of the deal, until a few weeks later in December when Paul was shipped to the Los Angeles Clippers instead.

2) Dallas Mavericks shock the world and win the NBA Championship

After not being favored in every playoff match-up they had, the Dallas Mavericks would prove all of their doubters wrong and eliminate the Blazers, sweep the Lakers, take out the Thunder and defeat the Miami Heat on route to the franchises first NBA Championship. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYykKlffgVA&feature=fvst  This title win was extra special for veterans Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd, who both won their first titles after going 12 and 16 year spans without one. Even though the Mavericks went up against the seemingly unbeatable Miami Heat, Dallas proved that teamwork, perseverance and hard work could lead to great success.

and the biggest NBA story of 2011 is/was…..

1) The NBA Lockout

November 26 2011 may be the most important date of the year, as it was on that day that the league announced games could be saved and a season could be salvaged after what was a long and tedious 5-month lockout of the league. After major problems over money, salaries and the salary cap between the commissioner, team owners and players resulted in the league incurring a lockout, David Stern and NBAPA executive director Billy Hunter helped reach a deal that saved this upcoming NBA Season. We still won’t know if this unfortunate situation killed the great momentum the league had at the end of the 10-11 season, but it’s just good to know that Basketball is back and we will have ourselves some NBA action in 2012.

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