Arakotaram: NBA is the ‘other woman’

From September until January, the NBA is a forgotten mistress.

College football and the NFL — the demanding wives — take up the typical sports fan’s time. Despite all its cries for attention, the NBA gets ignored until after the NCAA and the NFL have moved on. It’s not fair, but it’s the way it is. Since I’m just as guilty of this philandering as anyone else, I’m devoting today’s column to the NBA. As they say, hell hath no fury like a woman (or David Stern) scorned.

Without further ado, your (very) abridged NBA Power Rankings:

1. Cleveland Cavaliers (9-2): After dropping two of their first three games to two of the best teams in the NBA (the Hornets and the Celtics), the Cavs have won seven straight games in dominating fashion. LeBron James is putting together another MVP caliber season, including a ridiculous six-day stretch in which he scored 41 points three times. The addition of combo guard Mo Williams gave the Cavs their first legitimate perimeter threat to take the pressure off of LeBron, and it’s paid off.

2. Los Angeles Lakers (8-1): Before Friday’s loss to the Pistons, the Lakers looked absolutely unstoppable. Their average margin of victory has been 14.4 points, nearly seven points more than the second-place Cavs. Plus, Kobe finally seems to have found the sidekick he’s been waiting for in Pau Gasol. For the first time since 2004 — Shaq’s last season with the Lakers — Kobe is averaging fewer than 20 shots per game. In addition to Kobe and Pau, the Lakers also have a great group of young talent, headlined by Andrew Bynum and the underrated Trevor Ariza.

3. Detroit Pistons (7-3): I loved the Allen Iverson trade. Not only did the Pistons get the best player in the deal, but they also cleared substantial salary cap room for the summer of 2010, in which nearly every big-name player, including LeBron and Chris Bosh, are on the market. The Answer gives the Pistons what they’ve lacked the past three years: a bona-fide superstar who can take over the game in the fourth quarter. After three consecutive losses in the Eastern Conference Finals to some of the NBA’s biggest stars — Dwyane Wade, LeBron and Paul Pierce — the Pistons hope they’ve found their own answer.

4. Boston Celtics (10-2): Remember when everyone was so concerned about the Western Conference’s dominance over the East? It’s funny how fast things change. The Celtics’ victory last June, compounded by the sudden decline of perennial Western powerhouses like Dallas and San Antonio, signaled a shift in the NBA’s power balance. That’s been even clearer this year, as four of the league’s top five teams hail from the East.

5. Atlanta Hawks (6-4): Their recent three-game slide aside, the Hawks look like they’ve finally grown up. Despite losing Josh Childress to Europe, the Hawks picked up where they left off last year after taking the eventual NBA champions to seven games in the first round. They have all the ingredients of a potential dynasty: an unstoppable scorer (Joe Johnson), a solid point guard (Mike Bibby), a talented big man (Al Horford) and an underrated glue guy who does all the little things (Josh Smith).

So, even though you probably won’t pay attention to your mistress until January, at least you now know her top five positions.

Karan Arakotaram is a junior in

Ezra Stiles College.

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