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Shaun Powell

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Count your blessings this season -- it's a good time to be an NBA fan.
All photos: NBAE via Getty Images

For NBA fans, there's much to be thankful for


Posted Nov 25 2009 11:03AM

We're all thankful for something. We just don't recognize it as much. Some things, we take for granted. Others, we express gratitude for only sporadically. Mainly on a specific day of the year.

So, in the spirit of what's coming on Thursday, here are 25 blessings the NBA should count:

25: Conseco Fieldhouse

All of the traditional arenas (Boston Garden, Fab Forum, Chicago Stadium) are gone. The best of the new is located in Indiana, hoops heaven, and has all of the nostalgic throwback touches that separate the building from all the rest.

24. Mikhail Prokhorov

The Russian billionaire is bringing deep pockets and a deeper love for basketball, exactly what the Nets need from an owner to survive. There's hope for the franchise after all.

23. Good guys

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade aren't prima donnas, even though they could be. You see it in so many other sports, where a superstar pulls rank and takes advantage of his fawning public. Sure, it sounds strange, giving someone credit for being a professional and a decent human being -- isn't that what we're all supposed to be? Nobody's perfect, but these two ambassadors try awfully hard to be.

22. Brandon Jennings in Milwaukee

High-profile rookie plays in a small market, which helps spread the wealth, and the word about the Bucks. For a while there, people forgot about Milwaukee. Now you can find a Bucks jersey in Kalamazoo without searching too hard.

21. Christmas Day monopoly

Celtics vs. Magic. LeBron vs. Kobe. Nuggets vs. Blazers. Wade plays, Nash plays. While the sports calendar takes a breather, the NBA has the date all to itself. After the NBA Finals and the All-Star Game, this is the most visible day of the season.

20. Oklahoma City

Nobody wanted them to leave Seattle, a great basketball town saddled by too much political mumbo-jumbo. But at least the Team Formerly Known As The Sonics found a place with a porch light on.

19. Ailing but able

Kareem, Maurice Lucas, Brian Grant, Paul Allen. Hanging tough in tough physical times.

18. Jerry Buss

Has there ever been a better owner in the NBA? He spends and rarely meddles. He always seems to make the right decisions involving players, coaches and management. He kept Kobe back when half of L.A. wanted Kobe gone.

17. Loyalty and stability

You don't see it many places. San Antonio's different. Greg Popovich, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker have been together for what, 20 years? Wasn't too long ago when Duncan could've left town. Instead, he trusted his heart, and the Spurs are still winning.

16. Mark Cuban

Say what you will about the man and his emotions, the good outweighs the bad.

15. Arvydas Sabonis

He opened the door for what we see now: Talent pouring in from all over the globe. It made sense that he played for Portland. He was truly a trail blazer.

14. Marv Albert, Jeff Van Gundy

Best play by play, best analyst. Candid, informative and refreshing. Contrary to what TV executives think, not many announcers add much to a telecast. They're the few that do.

13. Winning teams in L.A. and Boston

No, no one's saying this is the mid-1980s all over again. But with basketball struggling in New York, it's good for the league to have great players and winning teams in important markets with rich tradition.

12. Jerry Colangelo

He knows how to put together an international team that's capable of both winning and representing the country with dignity.

11. Steve Nash

Along with Molson's, Celine Dion and Wayne Gretzky, the best thing to come here from North of the border in decades. Not only is he good (two-time MVP), he's also entertaining. That combo is always worth the price of admission, either down here or up there.

10. No widespread scandal

As it turned out, only one referee was on the take. The NBA, or any other professional sports league, couldn't survive a gambling network among the officials.

9. Superman

First came Shaq, unstoppable center and playful man-child. Now the nickname belongs to Dwight Howard, nearly-unstoppable center and playful man-child. Who knew the cape would stretch for years?

8. Phil Jackson

Gotta love his style. It's different. The most accomplished coach in NBA history doesn't try to control every possession, or block the view of courtsiders for 48 minutes, or scream during timeouts. He wins championships.

7. The shot clock

Still the most important innovation the league has ever known.

6. Charles Barkley and the Smiths (Kenny and Steve)

Sir Charles is in a class by himself as an NBA entertainer. Kenny plays a good straight man. And in an era of ex-players and coaches making basketball seem like a calculus test, Steve makes the game simple and easy to understand on NBA TV.

5. David Stern

The commish hasn't lost his touch. Good thing, too. He'll need it at the negotiation table in a few years.

4. NCAA Tournament

This is still the prime talent showcase for the NBA, giving us a chance to see Who's Next.

3. Dwyane Wade

Great.

2. LeBron James

Greater.

1. Kobe Bryant

Greatest.

Shaun Powell is a veteran NBA writer and columnist. You can e-mail him here.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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