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Fourth and Long

I have been discussing the NBA much more frequently than normal over the last few months and if any of you are wondering why then you obviously have not been watching the playoffs.

I have been amazed at the number of overtime games during this post-season. It has made for great television and high drama.

The large number of games requiring extra time to decide a winner just goes to show that despite everyone’s fear that off-season acquisitions like the ones Miami made last year might kill parity within the league, it has certainly not.

Take the Miami and Chicago series. Despite the 3-1 series lead the Heat currently hold over the Bulls (at least that is the record as I write this) it could just as easily be a 3-1 series lead the other way.

Miami may have the “Big 3” but Chicago has the MVP in Derrick Rose. Rose has been unstoppable at times and while it is certainly not in my nature to bash former Duke players I must admit that I have to agree with the assessment of most NBA talking heads and question the ability of Carlos Boozer to be the second scorer, defender and team leader that the Bulls need him to be.

Despite the lack of a legitimate second scoring threat the Bulls have given Miami everything they can handle for three of the four games played thus far.

Over in the Western Conference Finals, Dallas holds a 3-1 series lead over Oklahoma City. Much like the Miami and Chicago series mentioned above, the Thunder could easily be the team preparing for game 5 (by the time this is printed we will all know who won that one) with the 3-1 advantage.

This series has been especially compelling for me as it has several great storylines. Dirk Nowitzki has been playing the best basketball of his career and while solidifying himself as the best European player to ever play in the NBA, he has managed to force discussions of where he belongs amongst the greatest players of all time…from anywhere.

Less talked about is the re-emergence of Jason Kidd. Kidd has long been forgotten about when discussing the league’s best players, but his play this season has also been better than normal. While Kidd has often been discussed as one of the best true point guards of his generation many forgot he was still in the league.

I don’t know how many trips Kidd has left in the fountain of youth, but don’t be surprised if he becomes the “x-factor” in a run through the Finals.

Oklahoma City seems to have nothing but youth and while they may not have the experience necessary to topple a veteran laden Mavericks squad, the Thunder have made believers out of many other doubters throughout the playoffs.

Kevin Durant has been spectacular at times and much like Derrick Rose, is only a piece or two away from being a permanent fixture on the Western Conference Finals and maybe beyond.

All this seems a shame when you consider that the chances of there not being a lockout/holdout next season seem slim to none. I hope I am wrong of course, but history tells me that the NBA doesn’t like to be considered any less stupid than the NFL, MLB and even the NHL.

All three have been known to have a work stoppage over money in a bad economy and if they can do it then the NBA is bound and determined to make the same mistake as well. I guess now we will see if NBA Commissioner David Stern is as smart as everyone thinks he is.

David Friedman is a long-time contributor to Roanoke-Chowan Publishing. A Bertie High School graduate, he and his wife currently reside in Wilmington. David can be reached via e-mail at dave@gate811.net.