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The Current NBA Golden Age

Folks, here we are standing at the doorway of yet another NBA season - the 38th such season since the NBA/ABA merger in 1976. Many people will be eager to suggest prior eras as being the true golden age of the NBA, with the "Bill Russell ridiculous dominance era," the "Magic / Bird amazing rivalry era" and the "Michael Jordan threepeat repeat era" all coming immediately to mind as being worthy of consideration. I think this is wrong, at least from a fan perspective. Right now is the golden age of our favorite team sport and, as such, we should be honored to be involved and, let's be clear, we fans are as involved as we have ever been. At least I think we are. This all probably deserves a closer look.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Now before I get too far into this thing I want to make a comment that is meant, and should be taken as, equal parts ridiculous claim and astute observation. The statement is this: any era that is currently being experienced, in any context, is the only true golden age. The past is too subject to misinterpretation and the future far too unpredictable to worry about about either of them other than an academic level. The here and now, present time, current reality, that's the closest we ever get to real and actual truth and it's where we are probably best advised to focus our attention. Today is the golden age and it always will be.

It's also possible that I just wanted to wax poetic about this phrase so I had an excuse to share this song. Who knows. That moment fleeted and, frankly no longer matters. It's irrelevant. The golden age of this article is right now, the moment you are reading it. The brief amount of time I spent writing it has passed. So here is a great song you can listen to right now.

Moving on...

Lebron James is as good at basketball as anyone we have seen and yeah, that probably includes Michael Jordan. On the court James is just really fun to watch. I know that there are people who want to say he disappears, or that he isn't competitive enough, or didn't have enough competition,  or that he needs to win exactly seven rings or whatever, but from a basketball aesthetic standpoint he's more or less perfect. Also, it's been pretty effective if you think about it. I'll pause so you can....

I think it will be interesting to see how James plays now under extremely unique circumstances alongside Kevin Love who might possibly be the perfect Ying to the James Yang. Personally, I don't believe that the alleged weight loss will have much of an impact but I suppose it could limit some of his ability to simply overpower other players. Regardless Lebron James makes this the golden age.

The intermingling of American born players with international players in the NBA continues to occur at historic levels. At least it seems like it does. It's not like I counted or looked it up or something. And it's not just the prevalence of players from all around the world that makes professional basketball so fun right now. There are also other high level basketball leagues and international competitions such as the Olympics or World Cup which give we basketball fans a nearly non-stop opportunity to observe and discuss top notch basketball players in action. It's will be very interesting to see how Nikola Mirotic, widely considered the most NBA ready player in Euro-Leauge last season, fares as a Chicago Bull this year. Equally interesting will be the fate of Cavaliers head coach David Blatt who could potentially double the candidate pool for future NBA coaching jobs if he finds immediate success. Add these to the already growing legend of players such as Tony Parker, Pau and Marc Gasol, Dirk Nowitzki and Manu Ginobili along with literally dozens of others (including the Timberwolves own Nikola Pekovic and Ricky Rubio) and international basketball makes this the golden age.

Another interesting factor in today's NBA is the way in which analytics is changing the game and the raging debate surrounding this surprisingly controversial way of gathering information about what wins basketball games. Information is truly king and in this digital age we have more information available to us than ever before. The number of websites out there compiling and attempting to make sense of every meaningful statistic is a thing of absolute glory. Technology is providing us with tools for observing players and plays from every angle and speed imaginable (and a few that perhaps weren't imaginable).

The NBA's willingness to embrace social media sharing platforms such as vine and youtube means that as a fan I never have to worry about missing a big play. If something great happens it will be posted repeatedly on my twitter feed as well as all my favorite NBA websites. Equally interesting here is the extent to which we as fans are being allowed, and even encouraged, to participate in the broader NBA community. Do you disagree with your team's local beat writer? Start a blog. Think you have the stumbled upon the perfect formula for determining future NBA success? Write a paper, present at a conference, or rant about it on a podcast. We fans can gather together for a seemingly endless conversation with other likeminded individuals from around the world right here on the information super highway. It doesn't matter what your angle of fandom, this internet allows each of us to discuss the fluidity of our favorite players shooting release or to rank which players would look best in late 1980's short shorts according to our own personal internetting preference. There is room for us all. The internet makes this the golden age.

At their core sports are about the players who play them and this current NBA is no exception. Fortunately we are blessed with a range of exciting and interesting players to watch and enjoy as fans. Some of these players are seasoned veterans at the top of their game while others are budding superstars on the cusp of becoming the next big thing. Most fall somewhere in between. Who amongst us could have predicted the season Goran Dragic had last year? Come on, be honest. Anyway, it was fun as hell wasn't it? This league has a myriad of exciting players of all stripes for us fans to get excited about. We are, remember, under no obligation to to choose the best players as our favorite players. Sometimes, for whatever reason, we simply like to watch a certain player play. That's ok. Embrace this and make each game you watch your own personal golden age of basketball. There are more than enough fun and exciting players in the NBA right now in 2014 to keep us entertained. Damian Lillard, Ricky Rubio, Mark Gasol, James Harden and Anthony Davis make this the golden age.

Of course, if none of this works for you there are always Charles Barkley highlights.

Well, there you have it, my argument for why this is the golden age of NBA basketball. What do you think? Am I crazy? Am I right? Both? Were you trying to find a website for tips on spinning your own yarn but you accidentally clicked on this link sent to you by your significant other? There will never be another Bill Russell or Michael Jordan. Each was amazing and unique in his own way. Who cares which was better or who's better now? it's fun to talk about of course, but ultimately it doesn't matter. There will also never be another Tim Duncan or Lebron James. Let's enjoy these guys while we can because each of them is also pretty damn amazing and unique. Join with me to make 2014 the best season ever to be an NBA fan because wouldn't that be sweet? I think it would be.

I'll close with a few bullets of specific things I am looking forward to this NBA season and then a song I simply cannot get enough of right now.

  • How will Paul Pierce mesh with the Wizards? He could be just what is needed on what was a very fun team last season.
  • Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah are both very smart and entertaining big men. If Gasol has anything left in the tank it could be pretty cool.
  • The Phoenix point guard experiment. Just collect competent and versatile, but short, NBA players and give them all minutes. Why not?
  • Who will make the playoffs in the West and what will the seeding be? I'm glad I'm not a betting man because this thing seems a little wide open at this point.
  • Who is going to emerge this year? Last year Damien Lillard and Goran Dragic seemed to step it up. Does Anthony Davis have another level? Two more levels? Three? How about Steph Curry? How much better can he get?
  • Is Jason Kidd really coaching the Bucks? Interesting. And Derek Fisher is coaching the Knicks. What.... !?!?!?! That's just plain crazy
  • Will  Bradley Beal figure out how to be a consistent star? How about Lance Stephenson? Klay Thompson? Enes Kanter? Ok, I'll stop. This is kind of a wasted bullet. Can't just list everyone. That's not writing, that's listing. Very different pursuits.
  • I'm not generally a hater but it could be fun to see Kobe stay healthy and still struggle.
  • Rasheed Wallace coaching watch. Come on NBA, make this happen.
  • I reluctantly admit that the Clippers are interesting.
  • I'm calling it now: Boogie Cousins is making the All-Star game.
Here's the song I promised. Turn it up and enjoy the season!