One of the better weeks of the season in the NBA has come to an end. With meetings between the former NBA Finals champs meeting the new kids on the block in Lob City and LeBron James meeting his reputation’s arch-nemesis against Kobe Bryant and the LA Lakers, there are some power shifts taking a handle on the league.
Alpha Dog Drama Settled in OKC Thunder
Or at least for the moment. Russell Westbrook can go back to enjoying his franchise monetarily stating his worth to the world and Kevin Durant can sit back with the knowledge that he is truly the organization’s Commander-in-Chief.
The OKC Thunder has temporarily pacified the head honcho battle in the small town franchise between both Westbrook and Durant by locking Westbrook in to an $80 million extension. According to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski:
All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook has signed a five-year, $80 million contract extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
Thunder general manager Sam Presti finalized the deal with Westbrook’s agent, Thad Foucher of Wasserman Media Group, on Wednesday night.
The Thunder will hold a news conference when the team returns to Oklahoma City on Sunday.
The agreement, which begins next season, solidifies the franchise’s two cornerstone players – Westbrook and MVP candidate Kevin Durant – for years to come. Westbrook, 23, has emerged as one of the NBA’s most dynamic young guards. He made second-team All-NBA in just his third pro season a year ago.
Maybe now the individual battle for respect and a higher-echelon reputation can be put on hold for the flurry of cash rushing into Westbrook’s bank account. The admiration of OKC’s front office should be enough to tide him over for a while. Meanwhile, Durant knows the truth of the matter.
Whether he voices his opinion publicly or continues to defend Robin on a consistent basis in the eyes of the media, Durant understands that he can win bigger and better with a happy Westbrook on his squad than one consistently pouting and proving a point.
LeBron James and Chris Bosh step up, but how long will Flash be relevant?
It may be because of the delicate timing of Dwyane Wade’s absence against Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, but Wade’s perplexing injury history puts a question mark on the rest of his career in the league. Not to say that his jersey is going to be retired with a sole ring on his tab.
But, with the brisk arrival of his 30th birthday and an injury that threatens prolonged time out off the court, Wade’s career could very well be consistently interrupted by nagging plantar fasciitis, sprained ankles and other injuries that are just enough to ruin the direction of the season.
On the other side of the trio based in South Beach, LeBron James seemingly proved himself head to head against Kobe Bryant in only one of the REGULAR SEASON games of his career where the scope can make or break him. James did not shrink away in the fourth quarter, even though he bricked a couple of his jumpers. He scored nine points in the last quarter of the game and ended the meeting with 31 points, 8 rebound, 8 assists and 3 blocks (including a LeBron-esque block that he made so famous in Cleveland chasing down Matt Barnes’ easy layup). This only further added to his average over Kobe in any game he has played against the Black Mamba.
Will this game quiet LeBron haters? Hell no. If he had lost, you should have expected the internet masses to come up in arms against him in epic proportions. However, since he won, it is just a regular season game, according to the forward-thinking logic of Kobe lovers (also nicknamed THE LAKER GANG).
Chauncey’s Game-Winner against the Dallas Mavericks
Oh boy, NY Knicks. Look what you’ve done. You made a hell of a steal adding Chauncey Billups to the deal, no matter how much you gave up. However, pushing him out the door after not even an entire season without an option at the point may turn out to be one of the dumbest moves in franchise history. Not THE dumbest move, but undoubtedly sitting in the top twenty.
Watching Billups put up that two-point jumper against Dirk Nowitzki and the defending NBA champs must have been a stab to the heart of every Knicks fan who believed the release of Mr. Big Shot and the addition of Tyson Chandler to Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire’s ying would produce a lot more than they have seen thus far.
The Knicks are plain old mediocre while Billups is coasting in one of the league’s most exciting and most promising franchises. Ah well. You can’t win them all!