The San Antonio Spurs may be the best-run organization in the NBA by many standards, but one area in which it may have a clear-cut, unparalleled advantage made itself apparent prior to the Spurs’ 114-97 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals. Elsewhere, Kevin Durant deservingly wins the MVP award over LeBron, and Mark Jackson sees his way out of Golden State, for better or (more likely) for worse.
1. Portland finds a snake in its locker room at the AT&T Arena, subsequently loses Game 2 by a wide margin: The Trail Blazers were greeted by a non-poisonous snake when they arrived in the visitor’s locker room prior to Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Spurs. Many players, including Thomas Robinson and Mo Williams, were rattled by the snake’s presence, and San Antonio’s animal control unit has now been revealed as the best in the league. Executive of the Year R.C. Buford has really earned his title for this one, and it’s probable that Coach Pop and/or Danny Green handled the snake themselves, unimpressed by the snake’s unorthodox method of slithering. Stick to the fundamentals.
2. Kevin Durant wins NBA MVP for the first time following an all-universe season: After winning his fourth scoring title in five years with 32.0 points per game, as well as achieving a career high in assists, Durant received the MVP award, knocking LeBron James from the throne for the first time since Derrick Rose won in 2011. Durant then gave one of the most lauded acceptance speeches in recent memory, noting the contributions of Russell Westbrook, Caron Butler and his mother, among others, toward his progression as a player and as a person. Particularly given his otherworldly play during the Westbrook injury stretch in early 2014, Durant is entirely deserving of the award, and he has proven his great character and intense devotion to simply playing basketball.
3. Following a first round exit, Mark Jackson is relieved of his duties as head coach of the Golden State Warriors: There are so many layers to this firing that will probably start to reveal themselves in the coming months. The players adored Jackson, but they seemed to be the only ones. The turnover rate of assistants under Jackson was insane. Jackson had to win big to justify his actions. While much of this may be true, the culture of this season’s Warriors as an “us against the world”-type team would not have been nearly as prevalent had it not been for Jackson. Steph Curry has really come into his own as one of the league’s finest players under Jackson, and there is no telling what a disruption like this might do to players like him and Klay Thompson, as well as many of the other younger Warriors. Is it too early to call for an installation of Andre Iguodala as player-coach?