The National Basketball Association finally kicked off its 2011-2012 season yesterday with a five game cross country marathon.
Beginning in New York City with Atlantic division rivals the Boston Celtics visiting the Knicks, and ending in Oakland with the Los Angeles Clippers taking on the Golden State Warriors, there were more than 15 hours of pro basketball on TV yesterday; a welcome sight after the entire season was in jeopardy just less than a month ago.
New York, Miami, Chicago, Oklahoma City and the L.A. Clippers all posted wins, besting Boston, Dallas, the L.A. Lakers, Orlando, and Golden State, respectively.
Easily the most thrilling game of the day was the Miami Heat in their revenge match against the Dallas Mavericks. After losing the last game of the last season, and therefore the NBA championship on that same floor back in June, the Heat were red-hot all game, leading by as much as 33 points and never trailing throughout the matchup. The Heat lost the championship four games to two last year to the Mavericks, and played with a chip on their shoulder. And according to their best player, LeBron James, all they have to go from here is up.
“I got a lot of work to do still,” James said matter-of-factly. “I’m just a better player than I was last year.”
The National Football League got in on the action as well, offering a marquee primetime matchup: the Chicago Bears visiting pro football’s defending Superbowl Champions, the Green Bay Packers.
Aaron Rodgers, by far the best player on the league’s best team, threw five touchdown passes as the Packers beat the Bears 35-21.
The Packers are so successful, they have already earned the number one see in the playoffs and the only question is whether they should play their starters in their season finale or rest them for game one of the playoffs, avoiding possible injury.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy weighed in on the situation: “We’ll look at all of our options,” McCarthy said. “But I’m not going to stand here and tell you we want to give away opportunities to win the game. We’re going to play to win the game next week. I’m not real excited about a division opponent coming in here and think we’re not going to do everything we can to get to 15-1. But health is an issue for us. I think that’s stating the obvious.”
Winning or losing their season finale will not matter to the Pack, who go into the playoffs as the Superbowl favorites.