The NBA playoffs stand to become just another replay of the weepy, whiney show featuring big names like Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant. Can an underdog like Jeremy Lin return in time to add some spice to the mix?
A late playoff return by Lin could give storybook ending for New York Knicks
It's a season characterized by ups and downs. One month gets flushed away by injuries and bad play. The next month the New York Knicks are a hot pick for a dark horse in the playoffs. Now injured again and fighting with their second head coach of the season, New York battles every night just to stay in the playoff conversation. At the heart of their woes is surprise point guard Jeremy Lin, who took the NBA by storm when he came off the bench to save the Knicks' season. Now his Cinderella story took a tragic nose dive when he tore the meniscus in his right knee. Unless New York makes the playoffs and advances deeper than the first round, Linsanity fans won't get to see their hero on basketball's biggest stage. Can the Knicks do it? Aside from obvious reasons, there is another one fans haven't considered.
Soap opera with Howard and Orlando Magic won't go away
One thing the NBA isn't light on these days is vocal whiners. Among the biggest, literally and figuratively, is All-Star center Dwight Howard for the Orlando Magic. After kick starting a firestorm of trade rumors that ended in anti-climax when he chose to stay put, Howard couldn't keep his face out of headlines again when he openly admitted he wants head coach Stan Van Gundy fired. It's just another episode in a never-ending soap opera that basketball fans grow sick of. Where those like Lin make the papers because they try hard and America loves underdogs, Howard makes it for never knowing what it's like to feel satisfied. Magic fans can relate. The 26-year-old big man isn't alone, either.
Bryant has turned the Los Angeles Lakers into a three-ring circus
Where Howard can't make any decision, Kobe Bryant is so desperate to win a sixth title that he thinks he should make all the decisions for the Los Angeles Lakers. Not only did he criticize the front office for trading old staple stars like Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher, he also won't challenge his own teammates like Andrew Bynum to stop acting like an idiot. So to cover up those minor headaches, Lakers coaching has pushed Bryant as an overlooked MVP choice. That doesn't make up for past misbehavior. First ballot Hall of Fame doesn't make a player impervious to questions. For the success he's had, people tire of Bryant hogging the playoff spotlight.
The 2012 NBA playoffs need the New York Knicks in them. The media coverage alone would draw interest from fringe basketball fans. However, for the team itself, they would love a chance to complete the Jeremy Lin story with a happy ending. A return from a season-ending injury to steal face time from veteran moaners like Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant is too much to ask for. The Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers will get in regardless. One can only hope New York hangs on too.