Posted: Thursday May 18, 2006 11:55AM; Updated: Thursday May 18, 2006 2:02PM
The battles between Avery Johnson and Gregg Popovich will likely decide the Western Conference for years to come.
Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)
Buzzer-beaters, breakout performances and points galore have made this spring's playoffs among the most memorable in a long, long time. SI.com's NBA writers offer the moments that fans will be talking about long after the Larry O'Brien trophy is hoisted in June.
1. Playoff rivalries
Five rivalries formed by these playoffs will bear watching in the future:
LeBron James vs. Gilbert Arenas: After losing their first-round shootout, Arenas will have much to prove in future meetings -- especially at the free throw line.
Gregg Popovich vs. Avery Johnson: -- The top teams in the West are run by these best friends and former colleagues who know each other as well as any two coaches in the league. Their rivalry will persist for as long as Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki are wearing their respective uniforms.
Kobe Bryant vs. Steve Nash: -- The ultimate one-on-one player vs. the ultimate team leader: After their provocative seven-game series, Bryant will be looking to overtake Nash in the Pacific Division standings -- and in the MVP balloting.
Manu Ginobili vs. Ron Artest: -- Unfortunately for the Spurs, they haven't seen the last of each other. The Kings will be back with a renewed defensive intensity around Artest, whose No. 1 target will be the defending champs' wing scorer. -- Ian Thomsen
2. An owner other than Mark Cuban to amuse us
So there was Clippers owner Donald Sterling on May 8, strolling into US Airways Center in Phoenix for Game 1 only to find his courtside seat occupied. "I think you're in my seat," he said to a blonde-haired woman. "No, these are our seats," she replied politely. "No," insisted Sterling, "these are my seats. I'm the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers." "Nice to meet you," she said. "My husband is the owner of the Phoenix Suns. And I can assure you we've been sitting here all season." Penny Sarver, wife of Robert, then helped Sterling with his GPS. It turns out that he and a companion had the same numbered seats in a different section.