Is the LeBron-to-Lakers trade the final nail in the coffin for the Eastern Conference?
Over the past few years, LeBron James has been firmly in control of the Eastern Conference. His teams have made the NBA finals every year since 2011. James’ blockbuster trade to the Lakers has left a huge vacuum in the already diluted Eastern Conference. It has cast a bright spotlight on the fact that the gap between the two conferences continues to grow at an alarming pace.
Western Conference dominance is a principle as firmly established as gravity. Fans scattered all around the globe are cognizant of the strength disparity between the NBA conferences, and when Adam Silver took notice of the same in a notable press conference, everybody nodded their heads in unison.
Western Conference teams have won 12 of the last 18 championships. Every player on the last four All-NBA first teams now plays on a Western Conference team. Four of the last five NBA champions carry the Western Conference flag.
The only exception coming from the LeBron-led Cavaliers in 2016 when they came back from a 3-1 deficit to win the NBA Finals for the very first time in the history of the NBA. The 4-1 rout by the Warriors in the 2018 Finals had tarnished LeBron’s Finals legacy a bit and we all knew, changes were imminent.
Magic Johnson had a long chat with the man who would go on to change the face of his franchise, and in many aspects, the NBA landscape. LeBron agreed to a 4-year/$153.3 million Dollar deal and the basketball world skipped a breath.
Many have argued that what they are witnessing with the Warriors, are a once-in-a-lifetime super squad, that beats the will & resilience of any other team in the league. That is true to the core. But what’s also true, is any great sport is defined by its greatest rivalries.
And by the look of things now, the game of basketball is just a one-team show these days, where GSW is sailing through to their Larry O’Brien trophies one after the other, once it crosses a regular speed breaker in LeBron James. In fact, this year it will be slightly different.
If things go well for James in the playoffs, he will meet the mighty Warriors in the Western Conference Finals or this might just be the season when LeBron doesn’t make it to the Finals since 2010.
What the above prediction does is it puts things into perspective about the status quo in the West, where the Rockets, Warriors, Spurs and probably now the Lakers will be gunning to win the Western Conference trophy more than reaching the biggest dance of them all, the Finals.
Meanwhile, the East can breathe in peace and fight amongst mere mortals, waiting for their formidable opponents and the inevitable result, unless the gods that watched over the 2016 Finals rise up again and another miracle ensues.Published 18 Aug 2018, 18:08 IST