LeBron's Cavs help bring focus back to the hardwood

Fri Oct 24, 2014 4:17pm EDT
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By Frank Pingue

(Reuters) - After a tumultuous offseason that forced the National Basketball Association to confront the delicate issue of race, the league will usher in a new season starting next week that could prove to be one of the best in years.

The defining story of the offseason could have been LeBron James's return to his home state's Cleveland Cavaliers, where the game's most popular player hopes to ease the pain from his defection in 2010, but instead racism dominated headlines.

However, with Donald Sterling having sold the Los Angeles Clippers and Bruce Levenson disposing of his share of the Atlanta Hawks, both over racist comments, the focus can now finally return to the hardwood.

Thankfully for the NBA, there is no shortage of tantalizing storylines to keep fans focused throughout the 2014-15 season that tips off Tuesday with three games, including the reigning champion San Antonio Spurs hosting the Dallas Mavericks.

James' quest to bring a long-awaited NBA title to Cleveland, the return of Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose after two substantial leg injuries and whether five-time champion Kobe Bryant has a final act up his sleeve for the Los Angeles Lakers are just a taste of the stories fans will be following.

There is also plenty of interest in how the post-LeBron Miami Heat, coming off a lopsided loss to the Spurs in the NBA Finals, will perform now that the team's Big Three has been reduced to Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Fans of the Indiana Pacers, who fell to Miami in the Eastern Conference finals the last two seasons, will be willing All-Star Paul George back to health after he suffered a broken leg that could force him to miss the entire season.

Reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant will miss at least the first month of the season while recovering from a fracture in his right foot and when he returns will be expected to get the Oklahoma City Thunder positioned for a title run.   Continued...

Oct 20, 2014; Columbus, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) spins past Chicago Bulls forward Tony Snell (20) at Value City Arena. Cleveland won the game 107-98. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports