Starting this Sunday the NBA is finally back. After a lock-out lasting months over pay disputes, why should we care about the action? Can one of Liverpool FC's shareholders win the championship?
1) Unpredictable short season:
The lockout has meant the season has been cut from 82 games per team, down to 66. How will this affect the rhythm of teams? They will all need to start fast, if the top players have not kept their fitness up, they will get found out quickly. There could be some surprising results, and some top teams missing out on the play-offs.
2) Two teams in LA:
Long suffering LA Clippers fans finally have hope. Forever in the shadow of city rivals LA Lakers, they intend to become 'noisy neighbours'. This was confirmed by the blockbuster trade to sign Allstar Chris Paul, and their owners have stated now is the time for the side to step up.
3) Can LeBron go one better?:
LeBron James is a five time NBA Allstar and two time MVP, but he has never won an elusive championship ring. Last year's trade to Miami Heat was supposed to bring him just that, but the Heat lost in the finals of the play-offs despite James' best efforts. Whatever happens in this unpredictable season, Liverpool shareholder LeBron James' quest for gold is going to be one of the big stories.
4) Unmissable season opening:
The season tips off on Christmas Day with five must-see games. First up is the Boston Celtics v New York Knicks. The really unmissable game is the Miami Heat v Dallas Mavericks, a re-match of this year's NBA finals, with LeBron James up against Dirk Nowitski. The Chicago Bulls face the LA Lakers, the LA Clippers face Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder face the Orlando Magic. What a start- and the games can be watched on ESPN. Talk about making up for lost time...
5) Olympic year
This is a special year for basketball, for it will be one of the flagship sports at the London 2012 Olympic Games. So there is no better time than now to invest some time in the sport. The US team won in 2008 but lost every game in 2004 so the gold is far from assured. The Chicago Bulls Luol Deng will be the star of Great Britain's team, and hoping to wow the home fans.
image: © Keith Allison