Take That, Boston Celtics
First, the NBA. Two of the best players to come out of college in a long time will be playing their pro hoops in those basketball hotbeds -- Portland and Seattle. Those pro teams were hot in the late 1970's, but I'll bet that Greg Oden and Kevin Durrant know only that Bill Walton is a TV hoops commentator, and I doubt they know of Downtown Freddie Brown, Jack Sikma or Maurice Lucas. Most of the country doesn't follow West Coast teams because of the time difference, so it's hard to figure that they'll pay much attention to either the Trail Blazers or the Sonics. Since those teams finished 1-2 in the lottery, they're the most likely to come away with Oden and Durrant.
Second, the Celtics. They ran their team into the ground a la "The Producers," doing everything this season but staging "Springtime for Hitler" on their home court in order to tank their season and finish first in the lottery sweepstakes. But somehow, the basketball gods were throwing thunderbolts at that storied franchise. Okay, so they didn't use their magic to elevate the Philadelphia 76ers, who had about a 1% chance to enter the top 3, into the top 3. The 76ers, you'll remember, traded Allen Iverson to Denver and could have let their season fall by the wayside. Instead, the former supporting cast, ride of the ball and chain of a shoot-first point guard, revived themselves and had a strong finish. The 76ers should be proud of their body of work after the AI trade; the Celtics should be downright ashamed.
And they won't be rewarded with one of the two plum prizes in this year's NBA draft, and that's the way it should be. The NBA also gets punished, as I'm sure that their production staff already had been figuring out ways to tout Greg Oden in the Celtics' classic uniforms.
Naturally, as a native Philadelphian who rooted tirelessly for the 76ers, I have a bit of schadenfreud when it comes to the Celtics' predicament here, but the Celtics got what they deserved.
As did the NBA.
The NBA's western conference is, to a great degree, stronger than the east. Yes, the Pistons are formidable, but they're getting older, and the Cavs really don't scare anyone. The rest are, well, the rest. Meanwhile, in the west you have four of the five best teams in the league already and, when you bring Oden and Durrant to the west, you're close to making the league lopsided from a talent perspective. It could well get to the point that making the playoffs in the west will be tougher than winning the east.
What a mess.