2012 NBA Preview

Twenty-three reasons this will be the high-flying-est, nasty-ass dunking-est B-ball season in decades.
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Twenty-three reasons this will be the high-flying-est, nasty-ass dunking-est B-ball season in decades.
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Twenty-three reasons this will be the high-flying-est, nasty-ass dunking-est B-ball season in decades.

1. Blake Griffin’s Junk in Everyone’s Face

Illustrated for Maxim by Tyson Beck

2. Frenemies Forever

The quest for Olympic gold in London was a sweaty, huggy, smiley dancefest, but now that Le­Bron, Durant, Carmelo, Kobe, and company are going to be battling it out on the floor once more, it’s going to be a blast watching all that leftover goodwill quickly dissipate with one well-placed elbow to the solar plexus.

3. Return of the Rose

With all the talk centered on the Heat–Oklahoma City rivalry, we forgot how friggin’ great Derrick Rose is, and one day his ACL is going to be just fine. This year’s finals match-up is far from decided.

4. Getting Chucked Up

Whether he’s poking fun at Shaq’s mumble or breaking down Amar’e’s post game, Charles Barkley is that rare analyst who doesn’t have you reaching for the mute button or the nearest shoe to hurl at your flat-screen. Honestly, our only real complaint is that he dropped all that weight.

5. SoCal Smackdown

Comedian Adam Carolla on the budding Lakers-Clippers rivalry.

“It was fun to be a fan in L.A. last year, with the Clippers finally being good. But do any of their players even know what a clipper is? I bet they think clippers are the things you use to carve designs into the side of your head. The Lakers at least know that their name has to do with a lake. Anyway, as a Lakers fan, I think getting Nash was great, and while I’m excited for Dwight Howard, part of me feels like we’re stocking the company softball team with a bunch of ringers. I mean, how many more championships do we really need? I don’t need to see the deck stacked in our favor.”

6. And Now... the Brow!

College Player of the Year, national champ, Tournament MVP, number one pick, Olym­pic gold medalist: not a bad year! So what is Anthony Davis most looking forward to as he hits the NBA? “I wanna play against Kevin Garnett,” he says. “He’s one of the few idols I have.” Dude, be careful what you wish for.

7. WWJMDN?

What will JaVale McGee do next? That’s the burning ques­tion in the Maxim offices. With all due respect to Metta World Peace, the NBA has a new Head Headcase in Charge. But if the Nuggets’ freakishly gifted center could only remember which direction to run, he could be one of the game’s best big men.

8. Melo's Time

Happy Endings star and New York superfan Adam Pally on the Knicks.

“It’s been hard to be a Knicks fan for so long, but I feel good about this year. When they don’t suc­ceed, it’s easy to blame the best player, Carmelo Anthony. But he’s a three-time Olympian, a national champ at Syracuse. He’s a winner. Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby were great pickups. Our bench is deep. Every time Amar’e Stoudemire’s injured, the next year he’s huge. He and Melo know they have to win, and the three seed in the East is possible. Losing Jeremy Lin sucked, but honestly, I didn’t love him. He’s such a Jesus freak. It’s hard to root for a guy who thinks you’re going to hell because you’re Jewish.”

9. So What's Next For Linsanity?

Seriously, we have no idea. As Knicks fans, we hope lots and lots and lots of turnovers.

10. Players on Twitter

@TheRealJRSmith I can’t watch the game like this! Damn you @TheRealTahiry

@JaValeMcGee34 My love is shampooable! I mean conditional.

@MettaWorldPeace (Ron Artest) I love my pet penguin.

11. Seeing Michael Jordan Fail

We’re not sure what’s worse: MJ’s ’stache in those Hanes ads or his stew­ardship of the Bobcats. Not to be dicks, but it’s kind of nice to see a guy so great at one thing be so shitty at another. OK, we are dicks.

12. The Curse of the Trailblazers

Bill Walton’s feet. Greg Oden’s dong. Brandon Roy’s knees. Fate’s been so cruel to Port­land—how will fans cope if Roy, their former all-NBA swingman, succeeds in his comeback with the T-wolves?

13. Ogling the WAGs

Where else are you going to see supermodels like Adriana Lima (a.k.a Mrs. Marko Jaric) in person?

14.  Point Breakout

Illustrated for Maxim by Tyson Beck

NBA TV’s Greg Anthony on the golden age of the point guard.

“We’re seeing a renaissance at point guard,” says Anthony. “The current crop is as physically gifted as they’ve ever been.” Here we asked Anthony, who manned the point for more than a decade in the NBA, to give us his thoughts on the league’s best.

Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls

“If you look at every facet of the game, he’s the best…as long as he’s healthy.”

Chris Paul, L.A. Clippers

“He’s like a quarterback, a guy who can totally take over a game.”

Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets

“Sometimes he gets lost in the discussion, but I think he’s going to have a tremendous season.”

Rajon Rondo, Boston Celtics

“As far as pure, pass-first point guards go, he’s as good as anyone.”

Russell Westbrook, OKC Thunder

“I thought he was unduly criticized last year for not passing more, but he’s got to score. That’s his role.”

Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs

“He’s coming off his best season. He was brilliant.”

Steve Nash, L.A. Lakers

“It’s going to be exciting to see what he does in a new situation.”

LeBron James, Miami Heat

“People never understand that LeBron James is a point guard, and an elite one.”

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15. King James Reigns

Illustrated for Maxim by Tyson Beck

Why is LeBron so good? For starters, he’s one of the freakiest physical specimens in the history of sports. It’s science!

LeBron James is having a pretty decent year: 2012 has seen him win the regular-season MVP, his first NBA title, the finals MVP, and an Olympic gold medal—a haul equaled only once before, by some guy named Jordan. How to explain it? “Size matters,” says Tim Gay, professor of physics at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. “It’s almost like they took a point guard, with the defined musculature and speed, and expanded him in every direction,” explains Gay. “And an increase in size and muscularity means an increase in kinetic energy.” Which is why when he is coming down the court at full speed, the smartest defensive play is to get out of the friggin’ way.

16. Can the Heat repeat?

Dwyane Wade on Miami’s prospects this season.

“A lot of good teams from last year got better, but we got better, too. Obviously, there are younger teams that may have a bigger championship window, like OKC. The Lakers are always going to be one of the best, and the Clippers have done a great job. The Celtics had an unbelievable summer. I love what Brooklyn has done, and there’s always going to be a great rivalry between us and the Knicks. But we have a team that can win a championship every year. At the end of the day, that’s all you can ask for.”

17. The Dawn of the Superteams

ESPN analyst Jalen Rose on big threes, big fours, and more.

“Dwight How­ard on the Lakers is excellent—the league’s always been at its best with superteams. When the Celtics and Lakers were dominating in the ’80s, Magic had Kareem and James Worthy. Bird had Kevin McHale and Robert Parish. So I like seeing the Heat, Celtics,

and Knicks up the ante. All great teams have three stars. Imagine being Kobe: One day you’re playing with Shaq, then you get Pau Gasol, and now Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. But the Heat are still the big three to beat.”

18. Rolling Thunder

Saturday Night Live’s Bill Hader on Oklahoma City’s rise.

“Growing up in Oklahoma, everything was about college sports, so getting a pro team was so big for us. And I’ll be honest, if I were starting a team, I’d take Kevin Durant over LeBron. I love the way he’s acted with Russell Westbrook, especially when Skip Bayless was criti­cizing him and Durant was just like, ‘Hey, Bayless, that’s my teammate. Fuck off!’ I like that when I watch the team, Durant, Westbrook, and James Harden all think they’re the best player on the floor. And one thing I learned from sit­ting near the floor is that Har­den is funny! It’s the fucking finals, and he was saying shit that was hilarious, almost like it was a pickup game. I’d love to have him host SNL.”

19. The Old-Timers' Last Stand?

Two years ago Dirk Nowitzki got the monkey off his back, leading his Mavs over LeBron and Co. to claim the first ring of his career. Five months ago Tim Duncan was leading the Spurs on an improbable 20-game win streak that had them looking like favorites to win the title. They’re two of the greatest power forwards ever, and two of the best players of their generation. But going into this season, it’s going to be interesting to see if the league has passed them by.

20.  No Sleep in Brooklyn

Illustrated for Maxim by Tyson Beck

Deron Williams on how to get New Yorkers to trade in their Knicks tix.

“Brooklyn is pretty excited,” says the Nets all-world point guard. “This is their first

pro franchise in a long time.” True, Brooklyn hasn’t had a pro team since the Dodgers hightailed it for SoCal in 1957, so now with Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace joining Williams on the Barclays Center floor, could the perpetual second citizens challenge the Knicks for Big Apple supremacy? Will MSG’s season ticket holders start tearing up their tickets and cross the East River in droves? “We talked to Spike Lee,”

says Williams of the Brooklyn hero and Knicks superfan. “He said he ain’t changing.”

21. Unconvincing Nerds

Jalen Rose on the changing styles in the NBA.

“When I came into the NBA, I was one of the youngsters who thought the Urkel was a nerd look, so we went with the bling style. But players have to pick their poison. Would you like to see the chains and shirts and pants three sizes too big? Or do you want the Russell Westbrook look, with the bright-colored shirts and glasses? The thing is, only about 10 percent of these guys actually wear those glasses to see, which I think is going too far. But it’ll come back around. It always does.”

22. Can Boston Bounce Back?

Comedian and Bostonian Bill Burr on the Celtics’ chances.

“The Celtics last year were one of my favorite teams ever, with the amount of heart that those guys showed. When they won the title a few years ago, it was more of a bandwagon thing, since they’d been so bad for so long. But I love Kevin Garnett. He seems like the only guy I know who curses more than I do. I’m sorry to see Ray Allen go to the Heat, but with Rondo and Pierce, we still have a big three. I just wish we could get younger. But Doc Rivers is one of the NBA’s best coaches, and as a fan I think they can challenge the Heat again. As long as the Lakers don’t win. My hatred for the Lakers is blinding.”

23. Fans Like This Guy

If you watch enough NBA, you may have noticed Jimmy Gold­stein, the NBA’s biggest fan. The elderly multimillionaire is hard to miss, what with the alligator suits, cowboy hats, Steven Tyler mug, and buxom blondes on his arm. Jimmy goes to more games than anyone not paid to be there. (Last year he hit 95 percent of Lakers and Clippers games—home and away.) Also, he lives in Jackie Treehorn’s mansion from The Big Lebowski. Jimmy has nothing to do with how the season will go, but, shit, how awesome is this guy?

Related Links

The Best, Worst and Best-Worst Athletes on Twitter

The 12 Dumbest Athlete Arrests

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