The Changing of the Guard
About once a decade or so, the reigning superstars of the NBA fade away, giving way to the next generation of younger, more gifted and more self-assured athletes. This change comes as surely as the rising of tides or the setting of the sun.
In the 90's we watched as Bird, Magic, and Isaiah gave way to Jordan, Charles, Patrick and Karl. As the 2000's began, those players found the spotlight shifting to Kobe, Duncan, Shaq and Garnett.
As we witness in awe the spectacular moments of the 2011 NBA Playoffs, we are once again watching the curtain fall on this generation's wave of NBA stars.
A decade ago, Shaq and Kobe teamed up to win a championship for L.A.. Tim Duncan helped the Spurs to the league's best record with 61 wins. Garnett led an otherwise unspectacular Minnesota team to the West's 8th seed. Dirk Nowitzki helped the Mavericks upset the veteran Utah Jazz and Allen Iverson was breathing life into the long-sleeping 76ers (stats courtesy Wikipedia.) The rise of the new NBA superstar was in full swing.
Now, 10 years later, many of these players are still in the playoff mix, and they seem unaware that the same pattern is inevitably occurring, just as it did for Stockton, Malone, Robinson, Barkley and even Jordan before them. Yet the signs are all around.
Iverson is enjoying the 2011 postseason in Turkey, Shaq just spent his team's first round matchup in a suit and Duncan returned home early for the start to his golf season. Kobe is hanging tough, still productive but nowhere near his dominance of half a decade ago, while Garnett leads the battle-weary Celtics into a clash with South Beach's resident superstars. And Dirk, though sickeningly productive, can only hope to make the next few games close before bowing out once again earlier than he'd like. The sun is setting on these illustrious careers.Continued on the next page