In Search of a Storybook Ending
The NBA season is well underway, and early returns have done little to deter predictions of a Finals rematch between the Celtics and Lakers. While that might be interesting -- not to mention sweet music to the ears of league execs -- the story line would lack some of the juice of last year's, which had Boston's Big Three all trying to complete their résumés with a title. In the name of novelty, our question is: Who would you like to see become a first-time champ this season?
The top spot goes to a guy renowned for being tougher than a two-ruble steak. And may we say, welcome to the crack staff, Joe Dumars! Just after we took this poll, the Pistons GM apparently decided he, too, would like to see A.I. win it all this year. And unlike us, he was in a position to do something about it, improving the guard's chances by bringing him to Detroit. (Of course, Dumars may really be hoping to see the No. 4 guy on this list win it all -- two years from now, in a Pistons jersey -- but that's sheer speculation, and we're only passing it along here because we like to torment Clevelanders). Granted, Iverson's new team is still a bit of a long shot for a title, but it was never going to happen in Denver, and anyway, the Rocky Mountains don't fit his persona nearly as well as the Rust Belt. And it's that tough-guy persona that's the key to Iverson winning this poll; after all, this isn't an exercise in prediction but in wish fulfillment. And plenty of folks want to see the NBA's longtime pound-for-pound champ simply become an NBA champ before all is said and done. Why? Because Iverson is the embodiment of David in a world of Goliaths. That is, if David threw rocks at baskets instead of people's heads, and if his shooting percentage was a lot lower than 1.000. But then again, the original David reputedly enjoyed practice, so he had that going for him. The point is, Iverson is a babe in Pituitary Gland-Land, and the fact that he has been so successful (an NBA MVP award, nine all-star appearances) speaks to incredible toughness and skill. Some would say that it also speaks to incredible ball-hoggery, but the only two people with a higher career scoring average, a couple of guys named Jordan and Chamberlain, won eight championships between them, suggesting that being a shameless gunner can sometimes lead to outcomes no one would be ashamed of. So here's hoping the newest Piston can go from "Me, Myself and Iverson" to "Me, Myself and Larry O'Brien."
Hill's personal qualities garner him an enormous amount of respect and his epic medical history garners him a similar amount of sympathy. As a result, it seems as many people want to see this man win a title as fervently don't want to see his college team win another title.
Of course, if Hill, now with Phoenix, wins one this year, it'll likely mean that Nash wins one as well. And hey, the point guard's helter-skelter, slick-passing style has given NBA fans so much enjoyment over the years, it would be nice to see him get rewarded. Plus, we would be able to watch him celebrate a title as all Canadians do: by hoisting the trophy over his head and skating around the court with it.
If the presidential election taught us anything, it's that just because something seems to be a foregone conclusion, it doesn't mean that a lot of people wouldn't be excited to see it actually happen. So, LeBron, tell your teammates, "Yes, we can!" Oh, and after you've reached the mountaintop, feel free to help fix the economy, get us out of wars, resolve partisan bickering . . .
Now in his ninth season, Crawford is the longest-tenured NBA player never to have so much as reached the postseason, having had the misfortune of starting out with some terrible Bulls teams before moving to the did-someone-say-terrible Knicks. Of course, Crawford will need a trade, so whaddya say, Dumars? Oh, right, you just filled your quota of shameless gunners.