Nearly three decades ago, the NBA was a dying organization. No one cared about basketball because it appealed to no one. America was more concerned with the Yankees and Giants. The NBA leaders had to change their marketing technique. They choose a few poster children for the NBA, players of great skill as well as charisma and genuine friendliness towards the public. The NBA built the image of men such as Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan into the hearts and home of American households across the nation. The NBA was saved.
On the court, Michael Jordan helped build the Chicago Bulls into a juggernaut of a team. With such players as Bill Cartwright, Horace Grant, John Paxton, and BJ Armstrong, the Chicago Bulls helped spread the popularity of basketball throughout the world. Among many of their legendary accolades, the Bulls were the only team to win more than seventy games in a single season.
As the star of the Bulls dulled due to the departure of Jordan and other star players, two teams rose to challenge each other for the title of “Top Dog”: the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. Between the two teams, they won a total of 33 NBA championships. The Lakers and Celtics have so much talent between them that most people simply give up comparing them and proclaim the Lakers the best in west and the Celtics are the beast of east. The Lakers have had MVP players like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson as well as active MVP’s, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. High profile Celtic players include Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, Dave Cowens, Larry Bird, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce.
The struggle between the eastern and western powers continued to dominate much of sports news as Shaquille O’Neal was signed to the Boston Celtics in 2010. But the twilight of their dominance is quickly approaching. Coach Doc Rivers of the Boston Celtics has announced his intentions to depart from the team after this season. Also, half the bench is made of older veterans who are ready to leave as well. The Lakers have not been doing so hot as of late, losing to such mediocre teams as the Bobcats and Kings. Also, Kobe Bryant, their star player is getting old and slowing down. He is also back to scoring 41 points a game and that is not the best thing for someone his age; his team should be stepping up.
So who is the next big thing?
On Christmas Day, 2010, the former NBA champions, the Lakers, were slaughtered by the Miami Heat, 96-80. Both LeBron James and Dwayne Wade brought it to Kobe as they systematically took down the veteran champions, scoring one of the biggest upsets in basketball history.
Back in 2007, the Heat had the worst record of any NBA team. Today, they are the frontrunners of all the up and coming teams. In 2008, the obtained Michael Beasley via draft pick, consolidating the Wade-Beasley dynasty. This power duo was expanded by the arrival of LeBron James and Chris Bosh in 2010.
The Heat is a relatively young team compared to such teams as the Celtics which was formed about fifty years ago. They won seven division titles and won only a single NBA championship back in 2006. But the Heat is using a new formula that the Lakers, Celtics, and Bulls did not and that is to build new star power. Dwayne Wade is homegrown talent and the Heat gladly accepts new recruits into their ranks and works with the rookies rather than sign all the older big name faces.
Without another emerging rival to challenge them, it is inevitable that we see the “Heat wave” storm the NBA.