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OTG's Defining NBA Moments of the Decade: 2012

Via cnn

OTG takes a look back at the top 5 NBA defining moments from each year throughout the past decade.

Honorable Mentions: The Nets move their franchise from New Jersey to Brooklyn.

5. Dwight Howard is traded to the Los Angeles Lakers

via bleacher report

Coming off a crushing loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the second round of the 2011 playoffs, the Los Angeles Lakers were looking to retool and re-energize their roster. In an attempt at exchanging some of their youth for an opportunity to immediately compete for a championship, the Lakers traded budding center Andrew Bynum as part of a four-team trade that would ultimately land Dwight Howard in Los Angeles. The Lakers would go one step further by signing free agent, Steve Nash to join their existing core of superstar Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest and Pau Gasol. Although the season wouldn’t play out as many expected, the hype that surrounded this team to begin the 2012-2013 season was epic.

4. Linsanity Takes Over New York City

via bleacher report

It was a 26-game streak that would completely transform the life of Jeremy Lin. On February 4, 2012, Lin was thrown into a game by coach Mike D’Antoni – seemingly out of desperation as the Knicks roster was beginning to thin out due to injury. However, the undrafted Harvard product would unexpectantly explode for 25 PTS and 7 AST, leading the Knicks to a win. Lin followed that performance up with another phenomenal showing against the Jazz, scoring 28 points. Lin would go on to lead the Knicks on a 7-game winning streak, and a 16-10 record before his season was ended by an injury. Lin would ultimately leave New York in the offseason and sign a life-changing contract with the Houston Rockets. Although short-lived, Linsanity remains one of the most exciting memories in the Knicks recent history.

3. Derrick Rose tears his ACL for the first time

via nba.com

Coming off a phenomenal season in which he became the youngest MVP in NBA history, Rose’s encore season was plagued with injury. Even though he was only able to appear in 39 of a total of 66 games (the season had been shortened due to a lockout) Rose was still named an all-star in 2012 – unfortunately, this would be the last all-star appearance to date. In Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs, he tore the ACL in his right knee and his season was over. Rose would miss the entire next season while rehabbing his knee injury and although he would eventually return to the court in 2013, he would only play 10 games before tearing his meniscus in his other knee, ending that season as well. Rose has seen somewhat of a renaissance over the last two seasons, however, the decade would have been so very different if the dynamic point guard had been able to remain healthy.

2. James Harden is traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Houston Rockets

Via bleacher report Coming off a run to the 2012 NBA Finals, one would expect the OKC Thunder to try and keep their young core together with hopes for competing for multiple championships in the coming years. Shockingly, that is not the route ultimately chosen by the franchise. After failing to agree to a contract extension in the offseason, OKC would send James Harden to the Houston Rockets in exchange for Kevin Martin, and two first round picks that would become Mitch McGary and Steven Adams. At the time, it was becoming clear that the Thunder underappreciated Harden’s ability as he was still only a 6th man in the team’s rotation, while Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka had all become full-time starters. For Harden, the trade would become the best thing to happen to his career. The Rockets immediately made him their franchise cornerstone and ‘the Beard’ would finish the season with averages of 26 PTS, 5 REB and 6 AST, and has been named an all-star in each of his seasons since joining Houston. As the years have gone on, Harden’s star has exploded to the tune of 2 MVP trophies as well as some of the most iconic scoring performances in NBA history. One can only imagine how different the league would be had Harden stayed with OKC.

1. LeBron James finally wins an NBA Championship

via nba.com

With all the pressure in the world on his shoulders, LeBron James entered the 2012 postseason on a mission. LeBron and the Heat began their playoff run with a relatively quick disposal of the Carmelo Anthony led New York Knicks. In the second round, however, things started to look bleak. After Chris Bosh was temporarily sidelined with injury, a deep and talented Indiana Pacers squad would take a 2-1 lead on the Heat. LeBron responded with a 40 point, 18 rebound and 9 assist showcase to even the series, and ultimately led the Heat to eliminate the Pacers in six games to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. James and the Heat would then find themselves facing elimination in Game 6 of the ECF in Boston. LeBron would heroically lead the Heat to victory posting 45 points, 15 rebounds and 9 assists, in a career-defining moment – the Heat would win the series in seven games, returning to the NBA Finals. LeBron would closeout the 2012 season averaging 29 PTS, 10 REB and 7 AST in the Finals and finally captured that elusive NBA Championship.