Friday, June 20, 2008

The New Class of NBA Bridesmaids

Now that Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and even to an extent PJ Brown, have won that sometimes elusive NBA Title (we could have included you on that list Reggie Miller), I thought it might be interesting to look at who is left in the NBA in terms of NBA bridesmaids(hence the Katherin Heigl picture above). They have to have been an all-star consistently at some point, and have been in the league for more than 5 years. The Brides Maid Hall of Fame includes

Karl Malone
Charles Barkley
Reggie Miller
Patrick Ewing
John Stockton
Adrian Dantley
Dominique Wilkins
Elgin Baylor
Alex English
Bob Lanier

So the winners this year are...

10. Jermaine O'Neal

Although injuries have basically ended any hope of a Hall Of Fame nod, O'Neal was drafted in 1996 and has yet to win a title. Odds are the Pacers will be rebuilding and looking to move him, he may find a fit to take him on a title run, but odds are he will start to become the "expiring of contract of Jermaine O'Neal" any day now.

9. Vince Carter

Another fragile star who was supposed to be the next Jordan, but isn't. When Jason Kidd was traded it looked like the Nets were ready to head in another direction, and Carter and Jefferson are still in New Jersey, but this is a team that is a long ways from contending for an 8 seed, let alone a title. I also don't see any title contenders lining up for his expensive services any time soon.

8. Allen Iverson

His crowning moment in Finals history was hitting a game winner to beat the Lakers in Game One of the 2001 Finals. The Lakers went on to win the next 4 and he hasn't been back since. He has an opt-out clause in his Denver contract, but all indications so far point to him staying in the high altitude, which probably doesn't help his bridesmaid status as the Nuggets don't play defense and had to win 50 games this year just to be an 8 seed. Just over a year and half ago the 76ers had a chance to trade Iverson to the Celtics, but took the Nuggets offer instead. I wonder how THAT would have worked out for the Celtics and if Banner 17 would be in their possession today?

7. Baron Davis

Injured often, but still showing enough brilliance at times to make you wonder why he keeps growing that bee's nest beard of his, Baron will probably be back in Golden State this year. However, Don Nelson is still the coach, and Nelson and Jerry Sloan would be tied for "Maid of Honor" status among NBA Head coaches without a ring, so I don't see him coming off this list any time soon, either.

6. Dirk Nowitzki

Probably the bridesmaid with the closest shot of bagging the trophy, unfortunately the trophy took off with Dwayne Wade and gave us homo-erotic T-Mobile commercials (sucking on a lollipop while commenting on Charles Barkley in short shorts as "sexy" is just creepy), while Nowitzki went onto win an an MVP, lose in the first round to an 8 seed, and appear on Punk'd. To be honest, I think losing to the Warriors was less humiliating. Dirk is relatively healthy, but will the Mavs be able to retool this team for one last run?

5. Yao Ming/Tracy McGrady

Has yet to make it through a full season healthy, has not made it out of the first round of the playoffs, yet Yao has become the Ichiro of the NBA while McGrady has become the pre-Super Bowl Peyton Manning. As much blame as Tracy McGrady gets for first round failures, Yao should be shouldering the burden as well. On the bright side, Yao will be representing his country in the Olympics, so that should mean he will be in great shape for the NBA season, right? (crickets, hisses and boos from Rockets fans)

4. Steve Nash

One of the most dynamic point guards of his era, and he has never played in the NBA Finals. The Suns are in transition, and draft night could be key into weather Nash can finally get his ring before his body finally breaks down for good, or if he becomes another John Stockton.

3. Grant Hill

Speaking of broken down bodies, Hill managed to resurrect himself form the dead (kudos to the Phoenix medical staff), but he seemed broken down towards the end of the year. If he can be saved for another season and Terry Porter can be the coach to put Phoenix over the hump, he has a shot, but as I mentioned with Nash in the last section, draft night (and the weight of Shaquille O'Neal) will play a big part in what Phoenix does this year.

2. Elton Brand

Being stuck on the post-Jordan era Bulls squads and then getting shipped to the Clippers, this poor guy can't catch a break. He may be opting out of his deal though, which means he could possible go somewhere that actually has a shot in hell of contending. He may have to take a little less money, but when you get to year 8 in this league and you are coming off an Achilles injury, you take a shot somewhere. Brand is one of the few Duke players I have ever liked, so I certainly hope he gets to play on the big stage before his career goes ka-put.

1. Jason Kidd

Put aside the off-court issues, the mutiny he led to get Byron Scott fired (New Orleans should send Kidd a thank you card every year for the next 10 years for that alone) and the fact his trade to Dallas basically did nothing for the Mavericks except clog up their salary cap, and you have bridesmaid number one. Probably a Hall-of-Famer, he has been to the Finals twice and been outclassed each time. Had a chance to sign with San Antonio and turned them down. Now he is looking at the final season of huge contract, point guards that are quicker than him every night (Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Deron Williams, hell even Steve Blake), and I think the chances of Kidd being fitted for a title ring are about slim to none.



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