NBA’s young guns are ready to fire

Sports Geek
Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
Jeff Sauer

New blood is always good for the game, in any sport.

It’s kind of like bacon. You either like it or you’re wrong.

There’s a momentum shift taking place in the National Basketball Association right now, with a crop of emerging young stars capable of carrying their teams to new heights, whilst delivering championship titles to ZIP codes other than the usual places.

As the highly touted class of 2003 – LeBron, Carmelo, D Wade and Bosh – enter the prime of their careers, the next generation of stars has also arrived, and they look ready to stake claim to supremacy amongst the league’s elite.

Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, DeMarcus Cousins, Stephen Curry and Blake Griffin, all drafted in the last five years, are burgeoning right before our eyes. More importantly, a few of their teams are at the top of the standings.

Durant and Rose grab most of the headlines, as well they should, but the most underrated player of the bunch is up in Minnesota, where we hadn’t heard much about him until a recent foot-stomping episode irresponsibly put his name on the front page.

Kevin Love is averaging – get this – 25 points and 13 rebounds per game. Throw in Rubio – the player, not the politician – and his nine assists per game, and the T-Wolves may have some serious mojo going on real soon.

The biggest question marks this season are the Celtics and Lakers.

They don’t look like perennial powerhouses anymore. The problem being that both teams are older than the mountains. Their average age is close to 5 years older than the league’s youngest team – and that’s quite a variance.

I’m not dissing either of these storied franchises; the last time I checked they still had 33 banners hanging from their rafters, and their rivalry back in the ’80s reinvigorated the entire game of basketball at a time when attendance and interest in the game had declined significantly.

But the time has come for the Celtics and Lakers to reload, which is harder than it sounds in basketball.

The best reload of all-time was a draft day trade in 1996, which landed the Lakers the 13th pick in the draft.

Rumor has it that some teams didn’t even know about 17-year-old Kobe Bryant at the time.

The other dominant team of the past decade, San Antonio, is still in good shape. The Spurs look old on the surface, but they’re not. They currently sit in familiar territory – first place in the Southwest division.

Seven of the last 10 championships have been won by the Lakers, Celtics and Spurs, but the times they are a changing. …

Back to the Super Bowl

Rick from Tampa writes:

“Hey Sports Geek. Why didn’t Belichick just let Bradshaw score on first down, thereby saving two timeouts with over a minute to play? I also think the coach blew it by challenging the Manningham catch. He could have saved a timeout there as well.”

Rick: Because the Hoodie is never wrong. Seriously, you pose a good question. There were plenty of what-ifs in the final two minutes of the game.

What if Wes Welker would have made the catch? And what if Belichick had not challenged the call as you say? It was fairly clear to me, at first glance, that Manningham was in bounds with possession, but too close not to challenge.

The first part of your comment makes perfect sense, kind of like Mike Holmgren allowing Terrell Davis to score back in the ’98 Super Bowl. As a coach, you can only make that call if you have a great quarterback to rally your way back, and Belichick certainly has one.

In Holmgren’s situation, he had the best quarterback in the game at the time, Favre, so it was the right coaching decision in the moment, and the Packers almost came back to tie the Broncos late in regulation.

What kills me about this year’s Super Bowl aftermath is the Wes Welker bashing.

It’s not like the guy pulled a Bill Buckner.

Jeff Sauer is a longtime western Colorado resident and former Roaring Fork Valley resident. He can be reached at

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