2012 In Review
Today is new years eve, evidently marking the last day of the 2012 calendar year. Tomorrow a new chapter begins as this book is closed and put away to be re-lived at a later date. To some, this is just another night, another day and there is nothing special because nothing really changes. To others, we can celebrate with out family and friends the changing from one year to the next, and for a lot of people it is a chance to start over, change and become a better person. There were a lot of amazing things to happen in the basketball world in 2012, but why wait to re-live them? Why not re-live them right here and right now. I want to go back and talk about my five favorite NBA and NCAA memories of 2012. And conveniently enough, last years NBA season basically started in 2012 thanks to the lockout.
5. 138 Points from WHO!?!
Does the name
Jack Taylor ring any bells? Well it should, because on Tuesday November 20th of 2012 Jack Taylor a 5 foot 10 Sophomore out of Grinnell broke the NCAA scoring record with a whopping 138 points! The dude went off. He took a total of 108 shots, connecting on 52 of them, and was 27-71 from three, while adding in 7 free throws. This is something truly amazing, like it doesn’t matter what league you are playing in, it is extremely rare for someone to accomplish a feat like this. The record-setting game got the attention of notable NBA superstars, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Carmelo Anthony. Now, of course, there were people out there who had to turn this amazing game and look at the negatives. People started saying that he wasn’t a team player, that there is no “I” in team, And it’s really just funny. His side of the story goes like this: he had a poor weekend shooting the ball and his team came into the game with a mindset that they wanted to get him going and spark him for the rest of the season. They did just that, and before you knew it, Taylor had a modest 58 points at half time. That alone is an incredible feet, but then he really turned it on, and in the second half,he poured in 18 threes to help him to his 80 point second half. This game ranks up there with Wilt’s 100 and Bryant’s 81 and it will be a game that I will never forget.
4. Wildcats win the National Championship (Full Re-cap Here)
How can march madness not be on this list? The Kentucky Wildcats, the number 1 team in the nation at the time, beat the Kansas Jay-hawks in the finals of the NCAA Mens Division 1 tournament in New Orleans. The Wildcats dominated the tournament as they insured their spot in the finals. Led by college player of the year and freshmen, Anthony Davis, and key defender Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky was excellent at shutting down every team that they faced. In the final game they came up against Naismith runner-up Thomas Robinson and point guard Tyshawn Taylor. A deadly duo who had earned their way into the spotlight as the number 2 seed out of the south region. It was a match up for the stars, the projected top two picks, going head to head in the paint. And it did turn out to be a great game, provided you are a Kentucky fan. Kentucky’s big six came up big and at one point the Wildcats were up 18 points, on their way to capturing that illusive first national championship for coach John Calipari. But a Kentucky’s dominance did not end at the NCAA tournament. They carried all the way into NBA draft night as they set a record for most players drafted from the same school in the same year, with 6. Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist went first to the Hornets and second to the Bobcats, respectively. Terrance Jones was drafted by Houston as one of their three first round picks, Doron Lamb went to the Bucks, Marquis Teague was drafted by the Chicago Bulls, and lastly, Darius Miller joined Davis in New Orleans as he was drafted by the Hornets in the second round. What a year for the Wildcats.
3. The Assembly of The Lakers Big 5
During the summer of 2012 another team of super friends was assembled, this time out west. The Los Angeles Lakers were able to assemble what was supposed to be the one team that could realistically compete with the Miami Heat. They ended the long thwarted Dwight Howard in a four team deal, and got future hall of fame point guard Steve Nash in a sign and trade deal. Nash turned down a 36 million 3-yr deal from the Raptors to come play in L.A. with Kobe and Pau. Not only did they put together one of the best starting fives in the NBA, but Mitch Kupchak, Lakers GM was able to add bench depth through the signings of Antwan Jamison and shooter Jodie Meeks. On papers, this team should be able to destroy the Miami Heat with two skilled and talented 7-footers inside, an excellent defender in Metta World Peace, and an aging but wise back court with Nash and Bryant. Now clearly this hasn’t panned out. Five games in to the season the Lakers fired head coach Mike Brown, and hired Mike D’antoni to try to turn things around. Another part of the problem has been that for a large part of the season, the Lakers have been playing in a point guard dominated league with a third string point guard in Chris Duhon as both Steve Nash and Steve Blake have been battling injuries. Nash has only just returned, and as expected, has turned this team around. Another thing is that Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard have little to no chemistry playing together, nor do they work well together in Mike D’antoni’s system. However they are getting better, and who knows where they will be by the time the playoffs come around.
2. The King Finally Has a Ring
The lockout shortened season started off slow thanks to out of shape players and little training camps. But lucky for us, it didn’t end that way. We made it all the way to the spring to witness the birth of a rivalry that could last a decade. The Miami Heat met the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA finals and in five games, LeBron James had his first ring. Don’t let that last sentence fool you however. It was no cake walk for the Heat as this could have just as easily been the Thunders first championship. Game after game James and Durant went at each other the two best players, going at it for five games in a row, now that’s good basketball.
Game one went to the Thunder in OKC. The Heat took the next four, and just like that, all of the LeBron ‘having no ring’ joke ended. The best player, was now playing for the best team, and was able to achieve what he was unable to do the previous year. LeBron James was named as the Finals MVP and the childhood dream was fulfilled. Later that summer, LeBron and Durant helped team USA to capture gold at the London Olympics. A couple of months later and he received news that the Heat had signed guard Ray Allen and forward Rashard Lewis, making the Heat instant contenders to repeat as champions. The Miami, Oklahoma City rivalry is one that I will always look forward to watching and luckily for us, they played on Christmas where Miami was able to win by 6 103-97.
And although those previous four stories were amazing, the one that stood out for me was the emergence of Asian sensation point guard Jeremy Lin. Jeremy Lin only graduated out of Harvard 3 years ago, and is now a house hold name. It all began with a little bit of luck, Jeremey was signed off of free agency by the knicks after being released by the Houston Rockets because the Knicks needed point guards. At the time, he was their fifth string guy, behind Iman Shumpurt, Raymond Felton, Mike Bibby and Baron Davis. But seeing as all of them were injured except for Shumpert. One night, against the Nets, he got some playing time and scored 25 points while racking up 7 assists. The next night he poured in 28 and 8 assists, and all of a sudden, he had a following. People started coming up with puns involving his last name, “Linsation, linning” but only one stuck. Linsanity. And there is was, a name for what this kid was doing. Night in and night out he showed class, emotion and at a time when the Knicks were without Carmelo and Amare, he brought MSG wins. Lin’s jersey quickly became one of the top-selling on NBA.com and in a week he became a global super star. Over the next three weeks, the Knicks would go on to win 9 out of their 12 games with Jeremy Lin in the starting line-up. When the Lakers came to town, he rose to the occasion and dropped 38 points, and got the win over Kobe. Days later the Knicks traveled to Toronto to face the Raptors. At the Air Canada Center there was a huge ovation and reaction to Jeremy Lin’s visit to Canada. There was also a large Asian contingency at the game and Lin showed them what they wanted. He knocked down a three at the end of the game to win it for the Knicks, and even though they were the away team the crowd went nuts. I mean think about it, here is a guy that comes out of nowhere, to becoming the main attraction on the biggest stage in New York in a matter of days. A kid coming out of Harvard, (Although he wanted to go to Stanford) making it to the NBA. An Asian having success in a sport where Asians are few and far between. A guy who showed the maturity of an NBA veteran who has been here before. No one has gotten this much media attention so quickly, and he handled it perfectly and never made a mistake. He took a nation by storm and no one will ever forget that month of Linsanity.
Yes, 2012 was a long one, but there is so much to look back on its hard to say goodbye. All the shots, buzzer beaters, passes, stories, emergence’s, wins, losses, trades, and signings will always be remembered. This was the year that everything was supposed to come to an end, but we’re all still here and boy, am I excited for 2013. Have a wonderful New Year. I’ll talk to you next year!