They say the mainstream playground fad is dead (Where have you gone, Hot Sauce?), but in the NBA — and really in this whole major pro sports thing — the essence of the park still thrives: It’s a constant proving ground.
Maybe it’s because today’s media is quicker than ever to judge, jury and execute; a few public missteps (or just one if it’s big enough) and we’ll gladly anchor you with a label that will take years to erase. Maybe it’s because in today’s economic times, fans want a better reason to spend their money on luxuries like NBA tickets and League Pass cable packages. Maybe it’s because there are just so few spots for so many ballplayers that job security at the highest level is never safe.
To an extent, Dime #53 cover athlete Carmelo Anthony proved himself last spring. In his sixth playoff appearance in six years in the League, ‘Melo finally got over his first-round jinx and shot the Nuggets into the Western Conference Finals, handing out 40-point stat lines and game-winners along the way. While he lost the penultimate duel to Kobe, ‘Melo moved out of T-Mac territory and into the class of players who have proven they can win when it matters. During a rare offseason for ‘Melo that didn’t involve a Team USA commitment, we caught up with him as he continued to build his off-court empire for this, his fourth Dime cover, the second time he’s graced the cover of our NBA preview issue.
Dime #53 has been on newsstands for weeks, and today makes its debut in digital form RIGHT HERE.
In addition to spotlight features on ‘Melo and Al Jefferson, we have our blowout 2009-10 NBA preview piece, identifying the storylines and newsmakers we feel will define this season — from Shaq to Brandon Jennings to Dwight Howard to the impact of next summer’s free agent class on this season’s on-court product, the rise of young contenders, and the beginning of a new Golden Age for a certain position.
And don’t forget the NCAA preview and the national high school preview. If you’re interested in the future of the pro game, you need to know the key players making noise on the amateur level.
Wintertime is here, and with it, the playgrounds and parks that serve as 24-hour proving grounds are mostly quiet. The game has moved indoors, under the lights, and now it’s time for the world’s best to do their thing. Time to prove themselves once again. Is there a better time of year?
- Austin Burton, Associate Editor