From the ugly NBA Lockout finally coming to an end after losing more than 2 months of games, to the exciting finale of Team USA’s journey to London in pursuit of Gold in the London Olympics, to the Kentucky Wildcats winning their program’s 8th National Championship, the 2012 calendar year was chock full of exciting moments.
Just missing the cut for 2012 was the OKC Thunder making the franchise’s first ever trip to the Finals, Derrick Rose tearing up his knee in the Playoffs, Kyrie Irving Winning NBA Rookie of the Year, and Lehigh and Norfolk State upsetting high seeds in the NCAA Tournament.
So let’s take a look at our Top 12 Hoops Moments of 2012.
While most hoops fans agree that Lebron James is the current reigning best basketball player on the planet, Thunder forward Kevin Durant is gaining ground fast. In only his 5th NBA season, “The Durantula” has already won 3 consecutive scoring titles, becoming only the 7th player in league history to accomplish such a feat. Of course, he has a ways to go to match Jordan and Chamberlain, who each won 7 consecutive scoring titles.
For a short stretch during the month of February, the hoops universe was overcome by the phenomenon known simply as “Linsanity.” In undoubtedly the feel good story of the year, undrafted 2nd year point guard from Harvard, Jeremy Lin, was thrust into the NY Knicks starting line-up and almost single-handedly saved the Knickerbockers’ season. He avered 22.5 points and 8.7 assists, including numerous double-doubles and a game winning shot against the Raptors, leading the Knicks to a 9-3 mark heading into the All Star break. Unfortunately, Lin’s success in New York was short lived as he signed a free agent offer sheet with the Houston Rockets in the offseason.
On December 17th, 2012 longtime Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim joined some elite company that includes only Duke’s Mike Kryzewski and “The General” Bob Knight, as the only collegiate coaches to amass 900 career Division I victories. Boeheim, already a Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inductee in 2005, has taken the Orangemen to 29 NCAA Tournaments, including winning the 2003 NCAA National Title, most famously with the aid of then fabulous freshman Carmelo Anthony.
It’s been a long time coming since the NYC borough of Brooklyn has had a major sports team to call their own. Not since baseball’s Brooklyn Dodgers left New York for Los Angeles has the BK been so proud as modern day as the Nets officially moved basketball operations across the Hudson River to the Barclays Center to start the ’12-’13 season. Although coach Avery Johnson has already been fired in favor of assistant coach PJ Carlisimo after a 14-14 start, Brooklynites can rejoice in the fact that the Nets are in “BK” to stay.
After 14 NBA All Star selections, 5 NBA Titles, 4 All Star Game MVP Awards, and 2 Scoring Titles, there’s not much left for Kobe Bryant to achieve on his way to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. But in early December, Kobe surpassed the 30,000 points scored plateau, moving him into 5th place All time behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Wilt Chamberlain, and Michael Jordan. In fact, at age 34, he’s also the youngest to ever reach the milestone.
As a player, Michael Jordan was accustomed to success on every level, from hitting a game winning shot to win an NCAA Title at UNC, to winning 6 NBA Titles as a pro. But as an NBA GM and now as majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, success has been hard to come by. His teams have been bad, so dreadful that last season’s Bobcats limped to an embarrassing 7-59 mark, setting a new league mark for futility, based on their miniscule .106% winning percentage, surpassing the longstanding ’72-’73 Philadelphia 76ers, who finished 9-73 and a .110 %.
What a remarkable year for Anthony Davis. After finishing 2011 as the #1 ranked HS player and committing to the University of Kentucky, Davis would go on in 2012 to set NCAA single season records for blocked shots, helping the Wildcats take home the 2012 NCAA Championship, and earn NCAA Player of the Year honors as a freshman. Davis became the unanimous choice by the New Orleans Hornets as the #1 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, then was a late addition to the gold medal winning Team USA hoops team in the London Olympics.
The accolades for Lebron James just keep coming as LBJ was named the 2012 NBA MVP in May, putting him in select company. He joins only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Larry Bird,Magic Johnson, and Moses Malone as the only other players in NBA history to win 3 or more MVP Awards. James and his Miami Heat teammates would go on to win the 2012 NBA Title over the Thunder.
In a move that was delayed more than a year after Dwight opted in on a final year of his contract in Orlando, the Magic pulled the trigger in 2012 on a blockbuster trade that sent arguably the Association’s best big man to the LA Lakers, Andrew Bynum to the Sixers, and Aaron Afflalo to Orlando. In the short term, the Lakers got the better of the deal, as 2 time NBA Champion Andrew Bynum has yet to play a game for the 76ers. Success has also been slow for Howard as the Lakers have struggled to stay at or near the .500 mark under three different head coaches.
Proving to the haters that the era of recruiting one-and-done elite level high school players does indeed work, John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats won an exciting NCAA Tournament to win the 2012 NCAA National Championship. Led by 4 freshman(Anthony Davis, Michael-Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, and Kyle Wiltjer), along with 2 sophomores(Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb), the Cats bested the Kansas Jayhawks in the Championship Game to win the program their 8th National Title. Kentucky would go on to see 6 players selected in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Exactly one year after losing to Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals, the Miami Heat beat the OKC Thunder 4 games to 1 in the 2012 Finals. James was named Finals MVP in one of the most dominating performances ever by an individual player. “King James” would go on to also win league MVP and help Team USA win the Gold Medal in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Led by legendary NCAA coach Mike Kryzewski, Team USA beat the best that the World had to offer in winning the Gold Medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. USA Basketball had many stars on their overseas trip, most noticeably Carmelo Anthony, who connected on 10 3 point shots and a USA single game record 37 points in a romp over Nigeria. Lebron James and Kevin Durant, with his team leading 19.5 ppg, where also key in Team USA bringing home the Gold over both Spain and Russia in the Medal Rounds.