As the NBA lockout lingers on like a bad hangover or the movie “Gigli,” we here at Dime have decided to go on a field trip. We’re hopping in the time machine and going back to 1998, the year of the last NBA lockout. A little “then and now” if you will; who were the best players in the league then, and what are they doing now.
But let’s make this a little more interesting…since we’re back there, we might as well see what the top players in today’s game were up to in 1998. This may call for a few high school visits, maybe even a middle school drop in (talking to you, Durant), but we have our permissions slips and we’re ready to go!
Then: Duncan and his Spurs won the title in ’98-’99 with a 4-1 trouncing of the New York Knicks. He was named Finals MVP after averaging 27-14 and an impressive 45 minutes per game. At 22 years of age, Duncan was only in his second year in the league, but his performance in the Finals was just the beginning of his perpetual dominance.
Now: Duncan just concluded his 14th year in NBA. Though he’s not the governing force he once was, he’s still productive. Timmy averaged 13-9 this year and was named an All-Star for his 13th time.
Then: Malone was named MVP in ’98-’99 for the second time in three seasons. He averaged 27-9-4 in the regular season, 22-11-5 in the playoffs and took his Jazz to the Western Conference Semis before losing to Portland in six games.
Now: Malone took his talent’s (or feet) to Sketchers and filmed a “Shape-Ups” commercial. He’s also rumored to be considering a coaching job with his former alma mater, Louisiana Tech.
Then: Mourning put up arguably his best numbers in ’98-’99, averaging 20 points, a career-high 11 rebounds and a career high 3.9 blocks as he went on to be named the Defensive Player of the Year. The Heat received the No. 1 seed in the East heading into the playoffs but were knocked off by the eight-seeded Knicks in the first round.
Now: ‘Zo has been quite active since his retirement in 2008, establishing the “Zo Fund for Life.” The organization seeks to raise money and awareness for the fight against focal glomerulosclerosis, a disease he was diagnosed with in 2003. Focal glomerulosclerosis is a life-threatening kidney disease. ‘Zo received a kidney transplant a month after the diagnosis from a close family friend.
Then: Iverson won his first of four scoring titles in the ’98-’99 season, averaging 26.8 points per game. He took his sixth-seeded Sixers past Orlando in the first round of the NBA playoffs, then lost to Indiana in four games. Iverson was also named to his first of three first team All-NBA’s.
Now: As of right now, Iverson is playing basketball in Istanbul for the professional Turkish club Besiktas Cola Turka. He signed a two-year, $4 million contract in October of 2010. Iverson scored 15 points in his first game with the club.
Then: Playing with the Phoenix Suns, Kidd averaged a career-high in assists (10.8) and was named to his first of five first team All-NBA selections. Though his Suns got swept in the first round of the playoff’s, he averaged 15-10.
Now: Well…let’s just say Jason Kidd had a pretty good year. Kidd and his third-seeded Mavericks won the NBA championship, beating the Miami Heat in six games. This was Kidd’s first NBA championship. He also dished out his 11,000th career assist during the regular season. Kidd currently holds the NBA record for most games played among active players; he’s also second all-time in assists and third all-time in three pointers made.
Mike Dunleavy Sr.
Then: Dunleavy was named NBA Coach of the Year in ’98-’99 with the Portland Trail Blazers. They won the division title, finished 35-15 (only a 50 game season because of the lockout) and were awarded the No. 3 in the playoffs. They went on to beat Phoenix and Utah before losing to the NBA Champion Spurs in the conference finals.
Now: Dunleavy stepped down as coach of the Clippers in February. He retained his position as General Manager before being fired a month later.
Then: Durant was 10 years old during the lockout. He attended elementary school in Suitland, Maryland (creepy…I know) and according to ESPN’s Tom Friend, was a tall, gangly kid who wasn’t very good until the seventh or eighth grade.
Now: I think we can safely say that Durant has improved a bit since those days. For the second year in a row, Durant was the NBA’s scoring champion (27.7 ppg). He was also named first team All-NBA, his second in two years.
Then: At 13 years of age, LeBron was playing for his AAU team; the Ohio Shooting Stars. The stars qualified for the under 8th grade National Championships in Salt Lake and ended up losing in the finals to the Southern California All-Stars by two.
Now: I think we all now what LeBron’s been up too lately…
Then: Dwight had just enrolled in the Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy during the lockout. He was actually a point guard at the time. Two years later, he grew to 6-9 and was moved to the block. Rightfully so.
Now: Howard averaged a career high 22.9 points per game this year, along with being named an All-Star, first team All-NBA and NBA Defensive Player of the Year. However, his Magic lost in the first round of the playoffs to Atlanta.
Then: Unlike the rest of these guys, Kobe was actually in the league when the lockout went down. He averaged 20-5-4 in his third year in the league, beat the Rockets in the first round of the playoffs, only to be swept by San Antonio in the next. Kobe and Shaq were on good terms at this point. I think.
Now: Kobe just concluded his 15th season in the NBA. Similar to the ’98 lockout, his Lakers got swept in the conference semis by the Dallas Mavericks. Kobe averaged 25-5-4 this year, was named All-Defensive first team for the ninth time and first team All-NBA for the ninth time as well.
Then: Like Durant, Rose was only 10 during the ’98 lockout. However, Rose was ahead of schedule compared to Durant, already having one two city championships with his under-10 traveling team.
Now: 2010 will be a year that Rose never forgets. Not only did he lead his Bulls to the best regular season record in the NBA (62-20), he averaged a career high in points, rebounds and assists. He also was named MVP, becoming the youngest ever to win the award at the age of 22.
Then: Thibodeau was an assistant coach with the New York Knicks during the ’98 lockout. He spent seven years with the team before joining the Rockets in 2004.
Now: Again, 2010 may go down as ‘Tibs’ favorite year. He was named Coach of the Year and lead his team to an NBA-best 62-20 record. Last June, he reportedly signed a three-year, $10 million contract with Chicago.
What do you think?
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