Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Time to revive Pacific Northwest basketball fandom

I must admit, I am salivating at the thought of the combined futures of the Pacific Northwest's two new superstars. With little distance between Greg Oden (who will assuredly be selected by the Portland Trail Blazers) and Kevin Durant (who will be taken by the Seattle Supersonics), the future for these two is obviously very bright.

It's obviously too early to call the rivalry they will likely have on par with some of the great rivalries in the past. Howeverm the greatest part is that their potential rivalry will be unique for several reasons.

1) Durant is competitive enough to see his draft position slipping below Oden by one spot as a major slight. Having put together the ridiculous season Durant did, he probably sees himself as the rightful owner as the top draft pick. Given, Oden had a good season with Ohio State, but honestly, it's not like his play was that impressive. It's obvious to the rest of us why the Blazers will take Oden at the No. 1 slot, he's one of a dying breed of skilled big men who actually want to be big men and dominate the post. But, in Durant's mind, a certain amount of bitterness has to be manifesting itself that will surely drive him to hungrily pursue Oden's team for the rest of his career.

2) Unlike some of the rivalries of old, such as Bird vs. Magic and Russell vs. Chamberlain, Durant and Oden will enter the league at the exact same time at the same age only one pick apart as a consensus No. 1 and 2. With everyone after them in the draft being toss-ups, the two of them from this draft class will constantly be compared, and their career paths will be analyzed in the same breath until one or both of them retires. Media exposure and the eventual commercial tie-ins will never let this die.

3) Unlike many of the rivalries throughout the years (namely Bird vs. Magic, Hakeem vs. Robinson, Jordan vs. Malone/Stockton) most of the more interesting ones haven't been intra-divisional, and if they were, they weren't as close in proximity as Portland and Seattle. With Nate McMillan defecting from the Sonics almost two years ago, the embers of a geographical rivalry have already been stoked between the two cities, and it's something neither will likely just forget about. Add all that to them playing each other four times every year and many inevitable face-offs in the playoffs, and it really looks like this could turn into a strong rivalry.

4) The two cities have embraced players such as these for their championships past. Seattle won with a dynamic scorer and Portland won with a dominant center. These guys match their respective city's formula of the past, it's just too perfect.

Now, just to play devil's advocate on myself for a bit, let's consider the things that could really screw this thing up. The first one is pretty obvious.

1) Both of them have to be damn good. If both of them don't live up to the hype or one suffers major injuries, this derails the whole plan. But, come on, they're both really good, so let's just assume they're both going to turn out to be badasses.

2) The Sonics move out of Seattle. OK, this is one is a good possibility. However, with the Sonics landing Durant, and basically overhauling their entire front office, the city of Seattle may come around to funding a new stadium if they see the product as up and coming that will boost the city's economy, and in turn, the owner may be inclined to keep the team in Seattle. It should be noted that if the Sonics do move out of Seattle, it will be the longest that an NBA team has been in one city before being moved to another.

But, even if the Sonics leave Seattle, I can still see the rivalry running strong despite the distance.

Here's hoping things go as planned, I am really dying for an interesting rivalry with some solid bases.

Oh, who am I kidding? The Sonics are leaving Seattle. Dammit.

Reasonably yours,
Scooter

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Rodrigo said...
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