NBA's old guard, step aside

NBA play-off reliables, like the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, are in danger of being pushed aside by younger teams not used to consistent play-off success.

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A passing of the torch is a traditional rite in most walks of life, but it can get a tad tricky in the world of sport.

Like when the team that is supposed to be handing over the torch is actually hanging on for dear life, utterly unconvinced their time has passed.

Sorry, Lakers, Spurs and Celtics, but it is the end of an era.


The young bucks are everywhere and, ready or not, they are completely certain their moment has arrived. Upstarts are ready to take down the NBA blue bloods.

Some, like the Miami Heat, were expected. Some are a modest surprise, like the Chicago Bulls.

And some have simply crashed the party, like the Memphis Grizzlies.

The new kids on the block are threatening to complete a play-off coup. The No 1-seeded San Antonio Spurs were eliminated in the first round, the Los Angles Lakers lost their first three games of the second round and the Boston Celtics lost their first two.

It is the NBA as you have never known it, because in the past 12 years since Michael Jordan retired and the Chicago Bulls dynasty died, the NBA Finals have been a relatively private affair.

The Lakers have won five and lost two. The Spurs have won four.

The Celtics and the Detroit Pistons have won one and lost one.

But barring turnarounds by either the Celtics or Atlanta Hawks, the Eastern Conference will send either the Bulls or the Heat to the finals. The West could still offer either the Thunder, Grizzlies or the Mavericks.

And this doesn't seem to be just some flukey one-season anomaly. The Heat, Thunder, Bulls and Grizzlies are full of young stars, but the Spurs, Lakers and Celtics are dotted with ageing ones.

The Spurs won their four titles behind Tim Duncan, who turns 35 this summer. Kobe Bryant (33 in August) and Derek Fisher (36) are two of eight Lakers over 30. The Celtics' Ray Allen will turn 36 in the off-season, Kevin Garnett is already 35 (playing on 55-year-old knees) and Paul Pierce turns 34 in October.

They are trying to hang on, but the kids are ripping the torch from their grasps.