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  Tuesday, November 25, 2014
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xtra xtra!
New Generation of Stars (Part 2)
By Kevin Devlin

     The days of Bird and Magic are gone for the NBA.  Since then the NBA has yet to come very close to a rivalry of similar proportions.  Sure, some teams show little love for each other, and some players still don’t like each other (see Kobe & Shaq), but the NBA has been lacking those epic battles that the Celtics and Lakers brought. When Michael played people didn’t care because all they wanted to see was him.  It didn’t matter who else was playing.  Since Jordan’s retirement the NBA has been begging for someone to come along to regenerate that hope.  Kobe is exciting and draws the fans, but he still couldn’t quite fulfill that need.  That void has been filled now thanks to, first and foremost, Lebron and Wade.  While today’s NBA stars don’t generally dislike each other as much as Bird and Magic did, their play can be as exciting.  And since neither Lebron nor Wade is even twenty- five yet, there are many good years to come as they get even better.  But while they headline the new generation of stars, there are many others who want to make it more than a two man show.

             

     The two stand out rookies from this past season were Chris Paul and Charlie Villanueva.  Both players gave their otherwise horrid teams a reason to be excited.  Villanueva, along with teammate Chris Bosh, kept the Raptors at least challenging and give hope that the future may be brighter for Canada’s only basketball team.  In New Orleans/Oklahoma City, Chris Paul was a beacon of light for a franchise in much need.  Paul, the rookie of the year, dominated for his team, and should the Hornet ever get him some support he would likely turn the franchise into a legitimate threat in the West.  Paul finished in the top 10 and top 20 in many NBA statistical categories, and lead the league in steals.  2005 rookie of the year Emeka Okafor saw a slight drop in most of his production this season, but he is still a presence for the Charlotte Bobcats and likely will be for years.  With rookie Adam Morrison set to join him next season the Bobcats are well on their way to becoming a young team that could threaten in the near future.  His stock has dropped since his rookie year, Carmelo Anthony is still able to dominate games at times.  While the dynasty days of the Bulls are long gone, and to ever create a team as good as that again is a stretch, the Chicago Bulls are at least trying.  The Bulls are loaded with young talent such as Ben Gordon, Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich, all three were key contributors to the Bulls’ resurgence this season.  With veteran Ben Wallace now added to the mix, and rookie Tyrus Thomas likely seeing some time this season, the Bulls are making themselves a force to be reckoned with again.  It may not be Jordan, Pippen and Rodman, but it may bring another title back to the Windy City.  In Orlando, Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard should be the cornerstones to ending the misery of the Magic.  The two juniors kept Orlando within four wins of a playoff spot.  With J.J. Redick joining the mix, the Magic may have just enough of it to get back to the playoffs.  If Darko Milicic can find the form that lead the Pistons to choose him 2nd overall, the Magic may make a surprise run in the East, now and for years to come.  That would also make things a little tougher for Wade and company, and may create a fierce battle in the Southeast Division for years to come.

             

     Now this generation of stars may never live up to the glory days of Magic, Bird, Thomas, McHale, Jordan, etc. etc., but for the first time since Jordan retired (the second time) the NBA has plenty to be excited about.  These young stars will not only make their teams better, but make their divisions better, their rivalries betters, their match- ups more exciting.  Lebron vs. Wade could become the new Johnson vs. Bird (without the spite), the Bulls and Pistons have never been good friends, that likely won’t change any time soon as both teams should challenge for the division crown.  Best of all is that among all these young stars is still sprinkled a good deal of seasoned talent.  Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, A.I., Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, etc.  The NBA had one of its most exciting seasons in a while in 2005- 06, and with the talent in the league now, it seems likely things will keep getting better.



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Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony - Young stars of

the NBA.