The year is 2025. Confetti is falling on Karl-Anthony Towns as he points to the rafters in honor of the late Flip Saunders. Towns just won his first NBA title after years of coming up just short. Upon gathering his emotions, he shares a moment at center-court with the defending champ Giannis Antetokounmpo. For several seasons now, the two have widely been considered the best players in the league.
LeBron James, at the age of 40, just completed his retirement tour alongside a very special teammate… his son LeBron James Jr. Just like his father, Bronny was selected first overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Dan Gilbert’s recent sale of the team opened the door for LeBron to make a second return home after famously departing again in the summer of 2018. The Cavs failed to make the playoffs, but the father-son duo provided us with a storyline that we hadn’t seen since Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr. both laced them up in 1990.
After finally calling it quits, LeBron kicked off his retirement with a bang. He sent a group text to old friends Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Paul to gauge their interest in a joint venture. Days later, the Banana Boat Sports Group was swooping in to purchase the New York Knicks after a mental breakdown and kazoo-related assault landed longtime owner James Dolan in a mental hospital. Knicks fans everywhere rejoiced.
What else is new in the NBA world at the quarter-mark of the century? Well for starters, the Supersonics made their long-anticipated return to Seattle, while another new franchise arrived south of the border in Mexico City. With the formation of these two western teams, the Memphis Grizzlies were moved to the Eastern Conference, but have no fear, Grit-and-Grind still exists.
Conferences, although still intact, no longer hold much value outside of scheduling. The sixteen teams with the best regular season records are allowed into the playoffs, regardless of their conference. No longer do inferior Eastern Conference teams make it to the postseason while worthy teams out West get sent home early. The 2025 playoffs featured an unprecedented ELEVEN Western Conference teams and just five teams from the East.
Even the structure of the NBA All Star game has been reformed. What used to be a showcase of “East vs. West” is now formatted as “USA vs. The World”. The most recent exhibition pitted American-born players such as Michael Porter Jr. and Markelle Fultz against international stars like Ben Simmons and Nikola Jokic. The increasing number of foreign superstars is a sign of how much the game has truly grown.
However, the more things change, the more they stay the same. LaVar Ball’s opinions and hot takes are still dominating the weekly headlines, Joel Embiid is still overindulging on Shirley Temples, and Dion Waiters is (yep, you guessed it) still the most irrationally confident player in the league. The NBA may still be the craziest league in sports, but we wouldn’t want it any other way.
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