Growing up, every young basketball player has dreams. Dreams that he is an NBA star. Dreams that, while shooting around in his driveway, he plays out the final seconds of a playoff game. Taking that final shot for the win.
They are dreams only so many can fulfill.
When ESPN was filming it's "Will You Be Watching When?" NBA playoff promotional ads, the producers asked LeBron James, Amare Stoudemire, Tracy McGrady and Dirk Nowitzki to recall those special moments from their childhoods.
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers
In James' first trip to the playoffs, he posted staggering numbers of around 30 points, eight rebounds and six assists per game. This season, James is averaging 27 points, seven rebounds and six assists per game.
Despite the team's late season struggles, James and the Cavaliers will be back in the playoffs this season and should contend with the East's best for a shot at the title.
Amare Stoudemire, Phoenix Suns
It should be noted, of course, that they were without their superstar big man Amare Stoudemire. This season, Stoudemire has made what looks like a complete comeback from the microfracture surgery he had on his knee that knocked him out for most of last season. With a new number signifying a new beginning, Stoudemire is posting similar numbers to those prior to the injury.
With the addition of his 20 points and nearly 10 rebounds a game, the Suns have high hopes that it will be enough to push them past the rest of the West and into the NBA Finals.
Tracy McGrady, Houston Rockets
This season is a different story as T-Mac has played at an MVP level. He has started nearly every game this season, and Houston has needed it. With Yao Ming out for more than 20 games, T-Mac carried the Rockets on that bad back to the fourth best record in the West and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
T-Mac's teams have failed to advance past the first round in his previous five chances. This season may be T-Mac's best chance to break that streak.
Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks
Nowitzki has always been a superstar but this season, with the help of his teammates, Nowitzki has elevated his game and has been the leading candidate for MVP all season long. After last season's disappointment, though, he realizes that regular-season records and awards mean nothing if they can't win the NBA championship.
Despite averaging more than 25 points per game, Nowitzki struggled at times in the Finals. With the way he has played this season, Nowitzki and the Mavericks should get their chance to redeem themselves.