The Revival of 'The Association'

       When Lebron James decided to "take his talents to South Beach" the NBA became the laughing stock of professional sport. As a big Lebron supporter I respect his move to help him win titles, but it left NBA fans feeling that the regular season no longer mattered. The Heat were the "beasts of the east" and rolled their way into the finals year after year. Although the Western Conference still produced complete basketball teams from 1-8, fans from the East had nothing to cheer for. The satisfaction of simply just "making the playoffs" was gone because there was no faith moving forward. Ask Charlotte Bobcats (now Hornets) fans how that feels, a non playoff team for years until the likes of Kemba Walker lead them to get railed in the first round by the NBA's best.

      But now, things have changed. Not only in the East might I add. In the West, the injury plagued Thunder and the aging Spurs are clinging to low seeds. Basketball fans from Oregon are enjoy the play of their resilient Blazers. Nick Batum and (now injured) LaMarcus Aldridge have Rip City hoop fans salivating over a top seed. But in the East, the tides have turned. The "stacked" Cavs are barely in  a playoff spot, while Atlanta is having a season to remember. Jeff Teague has become a household name and is leading his Hawks much like Dominique Wilkins once did.   His supporting staff of veteran and finally healthy (knock on wood) Al Horford along with emerging star Paul Millsap have the whole state of Georgia on the edge of their seat.

      Although we may see teams like the Bulls, Cavs, Spurs or Thunder in the finals, the energy in this league is at it's highest in years. It now is well worth your time to stay up and watch those 10:30 west coast clashes. From the splash brothers in San Fran to the high flyers in LA, no west coast game is a bad one. Yet again it is a dog fight for the last spot. The stingy Suns led by the Morris brothers, are battling for the final spot again, with other teams of their kind. West Coast basketball has become fast, stingy, and hard nosed.

   All in all there's no doubting that the NBA is back, it' impossible to predict and incredible to watch. With young stars proving their worth night in and night out, when asked if I think the Association is back, I have no doubt.