The Return of the NBA

After writing a lot about books, movies and video games the last few months, so today is the time to write about the return of the biggest league in my second favorite sport, basketball.
I’ve been a huge fan of the NBA since my teenage years, but I never played organized basketball.

Yesterday evening, the NBA kicked off its 2013-14 season and I’m really excited for it. Here are a few things I’ll be watching throughout the year.

Can the Heat three-peat?

The last two years, the Miami Heat have come away with the championship rings thanks to LeBron James elevating his game to a new level. At the moment, he is the best player by far. But the rest of the league has not been sleeping and championship teams have a tendency to get fatigued by their success. Younger, hungrier teams might be ready to pounce on any perceived weaknesses. Especially in the Western Conference, one superstar seems primed to take the next step in his development: Kevin Durant.

Will KD win the MVP?

Without his currently injured sidekick, Russell Westbrook, the 25-year-old superstar will need to lead the Thunder team on his own for the next few months. While he is good enough to lead the team to more than enough wins, will it be enough to keep in the pole position in a stacked Western Conference? If he does keep them fighting for a 1-seed, he will definitely be a strong contender for the league’s MVP award.

Which Point Guard will be the most fun to watch?

My favorite position in Basketball is the point guard. And there is an incredible number of fantastic players at the position, all playing with a different style. There’s Chris Paul, a leader on the court capable of taking over whenever he needs too; there’s Stephen Curry, arguably the best shooter in the league; there’s Ricky Rubio, a flashy pass-first playmaker and of course the youngest MVP ever, Derrick Rose, returning from a torn ACL. These are just the players are the ones I’m most excited about. But of course, it would be foolish to count out the older geniuses Steve Nash, Deron Williams, Tony Parker, the up-and-coming superstars John Wall and Kyrie Irving as well as the currently rehabbing Rajon Rondo and Russell Westbrook. Every night you’ll be able to see a fantastic duel at the guard spot.

Who will win the Lottery?

This year, there are two tiers of teams: the contenders and the tankers. With the 2014 draft shaping up to include the greatest amount of talent in years, teams like the Suns, Celtics and 76ers have blown up their teams to finish as low as possible. Especially in January and February, when other teams will be eliminated from playoff contention, it will be fun to see who joins the “Riggin’ for Wiggins” (named after probable no. 1 pick Andre Wiggins) craze.

How good will Kobe still be?

And the last question is about Kobe Bryant, who tore his achilles tendon last season and will return to the game sometime this season. Will he be able to continue his quest of catching Michael Jordan and his six years as well as Kareem and his scoring record?
Has his time on the sidelines rejuvenated him? How good is the old Lakers team? Kobe will want to prove all his haters wrong and I’m looking forward to seeing the Black Mamba step back on the court.

Will you be following the NBA? Who’s your favorite player? Or team?
Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

I’m back on Friday with chapter 22 of “An Elusive Hero”!

Sincerely yours,
Albert

Summer Sports events in Switzerland

I’m still going through finals as I had my first exams last week and still have a few lined up this and next week. Unfortunately this leaves me with little time for writing. I hope to be able to write more starting next week, but until then, my posts will be a bit shorter than normal.

On Saturday, one of the biggest sporting events in Switzerland started: The Tour de Suisse. On the same day, the Swiss football team took another step towards qualifying for the World Cup 2014 in Brazil with a hard-earned 1-0 win against Cyprus. Inspired by these two events I’d like to highlight the most important sports events in Switzerland in the next few months.

Tour de Suisse

The one-week cycling tour around the whole country is among the most important preparation events for the illustrous Tour de France starting in July. Today, the tross is travelling through the canton Fribourg to Meiringen, the site of the famous Sherlock Holmes museum. Other destinations this week include Meilen on a leg which will pass through my hometown of Zollikon, and Flumserberg.

For a more thorough write-up of the Tour de Suisse, please check out this blog post on “A humorous guide to Switzerland“!

Eidgenössisches Schwingfest Burgdorf

The end of August will bring one of the unique Swiss sports into the spotlight: “Schwingen”. Probably best translated as Swiss wrestling, the highlight of every “Schwingers” career are the national championships held every three years. This year, the Schwingfest is held in Burgdorf, a few kilometres from the village I grew up in. Unfortunately, all 4’000 tickets were sold out in record time. But if you want to catch a glimpse of a traditional Swiss sport, you should tune in on the between August 30 and September 1.

Tennis Suisse Open Gstaad

Surrounded by the Bernese Alps in a little valley, Gstaad has always been one of the most famous resorts in Switzerland with stars such as Roger Moore spending their winter months in the little town. Between July 20 and 28, right after the famous tournament in Wimbledon, some of the best tennis players in the world will meet in the beautiful mountain ressort of Gstaad. The fan favorite will probably be Stan Wawrinka, the second-best Swiss player who should be the number one seed at this year’s tourney.  Gstaad is worth a visit in summer with numerous hiking paths inviting visitors to explore the hilly surroundings. The tournament provides tennis fans with a great occasion to visit the Bernese Oberland.

Start of the Swiss Football Championship

Football only takes off one month. The highest tier of Swiss football is set to return to action at the end of July. Teams in the division are located in Aarau, Basel, Bern, Lausanne, Lucerne, St. Gallen, Sion, Thun and Zurich. Until the start of the next season, many village teams hold their annual fun tournaments open to amateurs and registered players alike. These tournaments are the key to survival to many of the clubs who provide a hobby for thousands of kids around Switzerland. So if the weather permits I can only recommend you support your local team! Another treat for football fans are the international top teams using the excellent Swiss infrastructure to prepare for their domestic championships. Among the teams this year are Borussia Dortmund, this years Champions League runner-up and former German champion VFL Wolfsburg.
So these are the sporting events in summer I can recommend looking into. Feel free to add other recommended events in the comments below!

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Sincerely yours,
Albert