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Yay, the Eastern Conference is Relevant Again!

February 23, 2011

As my sister said, if you haven’t heard about the “resolution” to the MeloDrama, then you’ve been hiding under a rock.  Everyone seems to have a different opinion about whether or not the trade will help the Knicks – some are convinced that this will elevate them into the discussion about Eastern conference contenders and others are not so sure.  Personally, I don’t care that much – what makes me excited is the return of the Eastern Conference.

In my mind, you need three ingredients for exciting playoffs (regardless of the sport):

  1. Competitive teams
  2. Interesting personalities (such as players that people love to see lose)
  3. Battles fought between teams over and over

After MJ retired, the Eastern Conference went through a period where the average basketball was mediocre, at best.  Sure, there was an Eastern Conference team in the Finals every year but most NBA fans considered the Western Conference finals to be the “real” Finals.  In addition, the merry-go-round of coaches in the Eastern Conference was in stark contrast to Western Conference teams like the Lakers, Jazz, and Spurs who, not by coincidence, continued to win at a high-level over a long period of time.   This is all to say that the state of basketball in the (L)eastern Conference was very sad BUT I think we have some reason to be excited now, especially for this year’s playoffs…

In the past year, these following events have made the Eastern Conference more interesting than it was a year ago:

  • Some significant players left the Western Conference for the Eastern Conference (Amar’e, Boozer, Carmelo, and as of today, Deron Williams);
  • The league remembered that a Boston-LA Finals could be exciting, even without a single all-star below the age of 30 playing for either team;
  • Some Western Conference players experienced devastating injuries, rendering their teams less relevant/competitive (Blazers, Houston);
  • The Knicks shed most of the shackles of the Isiah era (or did they?);
  • Oh yeah, and some guys named LeBron and Bosh decided to move to South Beach.

I don't think Joyce likes any of the players in this picture - she probably would've preferred that I put up a picture of D.Rose or JoNo. (Photo credit:

I think we’ve fulfilled #1 and #2 above – there’s a fascinating mix of players, some villainous and others simply with outsized personalities.  More importantly, most of the competitive teams are young – it’s possible that the top teams in the East (minus Celts after another 1-2 years) will meet several times in the playoffs in the upcoming years.  It’s great for the league, because you want each playoff series to build off of the previous battle between the two teams.

Bottomline, I’m happy because my Bulls are good again but even more excited because the first few rounds of Eastern Conference playoffs will finally feature some great storylines.  There will still be some great basketball and storylines in the Western Conference but with the return of the Eastern Conference, this means I’ll have twice as much compelling basketball to watch!


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