I can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed the playoffs as much as I have this year. I didn’t root for any particular team so I was able to sit back and watch. There were several compelling angles: Old heads vs young legs. The Spurs winning streak, reaching their peak in a beautiful display of basketball in Game 2, only to lose 4 straight. The Thunder, figuring it out and raising their level of play, proving they had too much fire power-knocking out 3 champions along the way. In the East, seeing The Heat, overcoming Bosh’s injury, surviving a standing 8 count to take out the Pacers. Watching the Celts just grind it out, using their sheer will to force The Heat to a game 7.
I thought it would have been nice to see The Spurs vs Celts, to see Garnett and Duncan, along with other vets in one last show-down. But sentimentality aside, what we’re getting now is 2 teams with stars in their prime. I can’t wait for this series to start.
Now if you want to get on Lebron because of the way he faded in last years finals, fair game. But, unless you live in Cleveland or Ohio, James has simply taken enough flak for the decision. It seems he’s the most scrutinized player ever and people are nitpicking in ridiculous comical ways. In true Skip Bayless fashion, someone even said the reason he played so well in Game 6 is because he didn’t want it to come down to the last few minutes. Then why not do that every night? Utterly ridiculous! This notion of Batman, Robin, etc. is unfair as well. Lebron is suffering from The NBA’s Michael Jordan syndrome. The NBA has tried desperately to duplicate the Jordan Phenomenon (which is why Wade won his 1st championship from the free throw line, but I digress). Lebron is more Magic than Michael anyway and besides all that is neither here nor there. And let’s say The Heat wins but Lebron doesn’t play well OR he plays well but doesn’t hit a last second shot. The criticism will be, yeah he won a championship but he can’t close. Sort of like yeah Tiger has those 14 majors, 73 tours wins but what we should focus on is that he’s never come from behind. Silly. I also hope this doesn’t become a rooting interest for Lebron because there may have been a racial element to the decision and why it continues to have legs. Most of that is less about ‘Bron than it is about those people who feel that way but its neither here nor there. And besides, The Thunder’s big 3 are Black too.
Durant, Westbrook and Harden are just young studs and it’ll be interesting to see if they’re a little nervous in their 1st trip to the finals. People have been expecting their youth to hurt them, so far it hasn’t. But then again they were much more talented and younger than the teams they face. That won’t be the case in the finals.
In any event, I’m hoping for something like the 2002 Western conference finals between the Lakers and Sacramento Kings. I don’t want to make a prediction because then I’ll end up rooting for that team and I’d rather sit back as a fan and appreciate it. I’d be happy for either team. Maybe I’ll write a comparison of both teams big 3 or position-by-position strength vs weakness.
Until then The Thunder in 5 (couldn’t resist).