In the coming months, there are thousands of NBA regular season games to be played. At times it might be hard to keep up with everything happening around the league. Every year with the release of a new schedule, Basketball fans are sure to circle meaningful and important game dates on their Calendar.
Whether it's the return of a hometown star, the return of a former player, the last game in a player's storied career or the debut of a promising young talent there are many key and can’t miss games. Instead of having to pick through the schedule yourself here are 5 games and dates that should definitely be circled on your calendar.
Honourable mention: October 8th, 2016, Philadelphia 76ers vs Los Angeles Lakers
For casual Basketball fans, this game is nothing more than two of the NBA’s basement dwellers going at it. For diehard NBA fans, this game marks the first time that 2016 First Overall Pick, Ben Simmons (76ers) will play against 2016 Second Overall Pick, Brandon Ingram (Lakers). Although this game probably won’t be replayed on TV for years to come, it is always special to watch the top two draft selections play against each other for the first time in their careers. For all, we know these two could be the next big generational superstars in the NBA.
5. NBA All-Star Game February 19th, 2017, New Orleans
NBA All-Star Weekend is back in New Orleans for the first time since 2014. Originally, the festivities were set to take place in Charlotte North Carolina however, because of the Transgender Bathroom Law HB2 the league decided that it would relocate the festivities, for the better. A showcase of best on best NBA talent, the All-Star Game itself may not be one of the most competitive games you’ll see this year, however, it is one of the most entertaining.
The NBA Eastern and Western Conferences will be represented by some of the league's biggest and best names chosen by you, the fan via a fan voting system. All-Star Weekend is the NBA’s premier can’t miss event. From high flying dunks to sharpshooters all eyes will be on New Orleans come February 19th.
4. November 4th, 2016, New York Knicks @ Chicago Bulls: #thereturn
After being traded to the New York Knicks this summer, on November 4th Derrick Rose returns to Chicago for the first time. Rose spent his first seven NBA seasons playing for his hometown Chicago Bulls and won league Most Valuable Player Honours in 2010. Most of Rose’s MVP campaign has been largely overshadowed by various injuries, including a torn ACL in 2012 which, kept him out for the 2012-13 season. Rose never quite could return to form but the city of Chicago was most definitely shocked when the team traded “the city's favorite son”. Now, Rose will be wearing Knicks Orange and Blue as well as the familiar number 25, from his days in High School.
3. November 10th, 2016, Chicago Bulls @ Miami Heat: A legend returns
In quite possibly the second most shocking move this offseason, Dwyane Wade decided not to re-sign with the Miami Heat and instead, decided to sign with his hometown Chicago Bulls. Wade not re-signing with the Heat was inevitable after multiple reports stated that Wade and the Heat had different ideas of the type of contract he would be signing. At this point in his career, the impact of Wade's homecoming will not have the same impact as former Heat teammate Lebron James’ however, he has proven that at age 34 he can still be an impact player and an all around star.
Wade was a member of the Heat for 13 seasons, helping lead the team to three NBA Championship wins, winning Finals MVP Honours in 2006. Plus, 12 All-Star Game appearances as a member of the Heat, winning All-Star MVP Honours in 2010. Interestingly enough, Wade was the only player drafted in the top five of the star-studded 2003 NBA Draft to play his entire career for the team that drafted him until he signed with Chicago. The impact of Dwyane Wade leaving the Miami Heat will definitely be felt this season , however, do not be surprised if Wade is met with a lukewarm reception when he returns to American Airlines Arena this fall.
2. December 25th, 2016, Golden State Warriors @ Cleveland Cavaliers: The rematch
Last season the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers played in one of the most exciting NBA Finals in history. The series culminated in a grueling seventh game with the Cavaliers finally winning their first NBA Championship and halting Golden State's quest for a storybook ending to its historic season. LeBron James fulfilled his promise to deliver the city of Cleveland its first major sports championship in 52 years.
Things have changed for the Warriors over the offseason. The team signed perennial all-star Kevin Durant to help in its pursuit of championship glory. Although this is only a regular season game the steaks will most definitely be high. The Cavaliers will once again be looking to prove that last year was no fluke while the Warriors, will be looking to prove that with their new weapon, they are the most dominant team.
1. November 3rd, 2016, Golden State Warriors @ Oklahoma City Thunder: Oklahoma's hero, returns as the villain
The biggest move of the offseason saw Kevin Durant sign with the Golden State Warriors. Tired of always coming in second, Durant opted to play for the team with the best chance of winning it all. Instead of signing a lucrative, long-term contract with OKC. Fans around the world reacted in shocking fashion at Durant's betrayal. Kevin Durant became a star in the small market of Oklahoma and also won league MVP Honours in 2014.
Durant helped the Thunder to their first and only Finals appearance in 2012, eventually losing to the Miami Heat in four games. As noted before Durant had grown tired of coming in second place. He was the second overall pick in 2008, he came second in MVP voting and he came second in the 2012 NBA Finals. It will most definitely be a hostile crowd at Chesapeake Arena and an even more tense atmosphere. The return of Kevin Durant to Oklahoma City, to square off against good friend and teammate Russell Westbrook, for the first time is definitely the must watch game this NBA season.