Playoffs bring time to reflect on season's memories
Posted: Wednesday April 19, 2006 12:20PM; Updated: Wednesday April 19, 2006 1:38PM
As impressive as Tony Parker's off-court life has been, his fearless forays into the paint have been even more eye-opening.
Marty Burns will periodically answer questions from SI.com users in his mailbag.
Wednesday night marks the end of the 2005-06 NBA regular season.
What will we remember most about this year's regular season?
It was the year Larry Brown's old team (the Pistons) dominated and his new team (the Knicks) imploded. It was the year the Clippers made the playoffs and the Hornets turned it around. It was the year they played some big D in Big D, while a few miles down I-45 they said, "Houston, we have some injuries."
It was the year Steve Nash kept the Suns bouncing like a soccer ball on his head and Kevin Garnett got tired of carrying the T'wolves on his slender shoulders. It was the year one Franchise (Stevie) moved and two more (Seattle, Portland) threatened to follow suit. It was the year a 7-footer (Dirk Nowitzki) won the Three-Point Contest and a 5-foot-9 guard (Nate Robinson) won the Slam Dunk.
Memorable contests? There was that wild 152-149 double OT Sonics win at Phoenix on Jan. 22, the most points scored in an NBA game in 11 years. There was LeBron James beating out hometown favorite Tracy McGrady for All-Star MVP in Houston. And, of course, there was Kobe Bryant's 81-point masterpiece, which came on the same day as the aforementioned Sonics-Suns tilt.
To be sure there were some headaches for David Stern as well. Ron Artest put his Nikes in his mouth again. Antonio Davis took a walk on the wild side. Chris "The Birdman" Andersen tried to fly a little too high.
But through it all, they kept playing. Now here we are at the end, with 16 teams getting ready to square off for the ultimate hoops prize. After more than five months and 1,230 games, it's finally time to get on to the real season. Soon enough the Pistons, Spurs, Heat, Mavs and all the other top title contenders will write the final chapter to this season.
Until then, here's a look back at the top 10 things I'll remember most about the 2005-06 campaign (in reverse order):
10. TONY THE TIGER
Spurs point guard Tony Parker has always been a good finisher around the basket. But this year the fifth-year Frenchman took it to a whole new level, seemingly converting every runner and floater and teardrop he attempted. Despite standing just 6-2, he ranked among the NBA leaders in points scored in the paint all season and wound up shooting over 54.0 percent from the floor. Not since Tiny Archibald has a little guy been so deadly inside the land of the giants. It's not often one sees an established NBA star like Parker dramatically improve an aspect of his game like that in one summer. Especially when he could have spent the time hanging out with his girlfriend, Eva Longoria.