Thursday, May 10, 2007
Western Dominance Manifest
It’s a phenomenon that baffles and upsets many NBA fans, one that is difficult to explain, and difficult to demonstrate, but its also a universally accepted fact: The East is least, the West is best. Since Jordan hung up his sneakers, the NBA has had to struggle with the reality that basketball is just played better in the NBA’s western half. Today, the all-NBA teams were released, and surprise, surprise, not one of the players on the first team plays for an eastern conference squad (Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, and Amare Stoudemire). That’s not surprising, these are the five best players by position in the league right now. What’s surprising to me is how natural it feels. At no point in reading those names did I think, ‘wow, that’s kind of unfair that the east is unrepresented.’ It’s gotten to the point that it is just natural that the best players, and thus the best teams, are all located out west. But wait, you argue, two out of the last three championships were won by teams in the Eastern Conference. True though this may be, it had more than a little to do with the fact that while the Lakers (in 2004) and Mavericks (in 2006) were busy fighting through the Western gauntlet, the East’s elite face little competition in the first round, and often breeze through round two as well. The fact is, the West features more quality teams and players all the way through (well, at least seeds 1-8) whereas the east features duds every year (looking at your Orlando Magic).