Today is the last day of not only 2019, but the entire 2010s. Another decade has come and gone, and with it, sweeping changes in the hoops landscape.
A common feature on this site is a series called “A Decade Back” where we find an event or topic that happened roughly one decade ago and take you back to that moment to relive what it felt like at the time. We’ve big fans of 10-year periods at Nothing But Nylon, and that’s continuing as we say goodbye to the world’s most recent one.
Remember 2009? Long shorts, the Warriors weren’t the Warriors, and two-point shots were allowed. Many things have changed since Dec. 31, 2009, when the 2000s ended, so let’s recall just how far we’ve come in the last 10 years.
At the Start of the Decade…
Lakers are NBA Kings
Phil Jackson is back and in full swing. The Lakers won the championship in 2009 after making it to the Finals in 2008, and after everything the world watched the team do to start the decade, another run of dominance doesn’t seem outlandish.
Ten years later, and the Lakers look like they’ve going back to the playoffs this season for the first time since 2013. The early portion of the 2010s was friendly to the organization, but the rest hasn’t been so much.
LeBron James was Still a Cavalier … The First Time
It was months before The Decision would be made on national television in the coming summer, and questions were swirling about James’ future in Cleveland. There were many suitors, but at this point, no one knew where he would go or that his choice to take his talents to South Beach, and those who followed him there, would have a profound effect on how free agency and roster construction in the NBA worked for the rest of the decade.
Phoenix Mercury Win Two in Three
With a 27-year-old Diana Taurasi as its driving force, the Phoenix Mercury won the WNBA championship in 2009, their second in three seasons after triumphing in 2007, too. Could Taurasi, who was hitting her prime, turn Phoenix into the next 1997-2000 Houston Comets, 2001-2002 Los Angeles Sparks or 2003-2008 Detroit Shock?
The answer was no, that didn’t happen. The Mercury did win a title again five years later, but they didn’t take the league by storm. The 2010s WNBA belonged to some different names.
The Lynx Aren’t on the Radar
The team that would go on to win four of the upcoming decade’s 10 available championships and make six appearances in the WNBA Finals in that span were irrelevant at the end of 2009. The Lynx had just finished a 14-20 year, missing the playoffs yet again. Jennifer Gillom lasted only one season before Cheryl Reeve was hired in December 2009, their third coach in three years. Since beginning play in 1999, Minnesota had only made the postseason twice and was yet to get out of the first round.
I don’t think anyone would call the Lynx irrelevant now, but that’s the difference a decade can make.
Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, Jim Boeheim, and Tom Izzo Must Be Retiring Soon
Nope. Wrong. They will never retire. Get used to it.
Tennessee is on Top of Women’s Hoops Sport
The Vols won titles in 2007 and 2008, the seventh and eighth in program history. Not only that, but in the 2000s as a whole, Tennessee appeared in five other Final Fours and made it to the title game in 2000, 2003 and 2004. Sure, 2009 wasn’t exactly up to standard as Tennessee finished 22-10 and as a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament before losing in the first round, but surely that wasn’t a sign of things to come, right? This is Tennessee. This is women’s college basketball. There’s no way the Vols could fall much deeper than that…
Long Shorts or Go Home
The last couple of years, kids have spurned the long shorts for short shorts. If you go to a high school game today, boy’s or girl’s, you’ll likely see one or two players from each team with their shorts rolled up so much at the waistband that it you’re concerned for their circulation. That trend has started to blend into college ball as those players age up to the next level, and it will inevitably take over the professional ranks, too.
It has been a fascinating thing to see change. I can remember 10 years ago as a young high schooler, I could never be caught dead in shorts that ended above my knees, especially when it came to basketball. It is the complete opposite now, and a funny bit of information that shows those of us who are old enough to have watched it that the passage of time is real, and there is nothing you can do about it.
What will the basketball world look like Dec. 31, 2029? Will an animatronic Coach K still be coaching at Duke? Will the Knicks still be bad? Will UConn still be the preeminent face of women’s college basketball?
Get your predictions in soon, but the clock in ticking. We’re hours away from the start of the 2020s, and that means a whole lot of uncertainty coming our way. That’s why we watch, isn’t it?