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2014 NBA Finals - Game Four

This is Kawhi Leonard’s world. We’re just living in it.

In an NBA Finals that was supposed to be dominated by the Big Three, Tim Duncan’s potential farewell, Gregg Popovich’s in-game interviews and Pat Riley’s slicked back hair, there has been a runaway star in a player who seems to want to be anything but. Kawhi Leonard is the soft-spoken, three-pointer-making, slam-dunking phenom who is leading the San Antonio Spurs against the two-time defending champion Miami Heat.

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LeBronTP

We’ve finally made it. After all the hubbub surrounding the playoffs, the near-upsets of the first round and the predictable Conference Finals matchups, we are finally at the NBA Finals. Vince Carter sent us back a decade in his playoff performances, but he + Dirk  the second round. The Wiz kids did what they could to throw the East into oblivion, but the Pacers stood up when they needed to do so. Try as he might, Kevin Durant is still second-best (in his own conference!). The San Antonio Spurs machine continues to crank out tiki-taka victories. The Miami Heat have the world’s best player and a bunch of pretty decent complements. Lo and behold, it’s a rematch of the 2013 Finals, when we saw the scariest basketball player on the planet for a brief spell.

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LMA

Let’s talk about the playoffs. LaMarcus Aldridge is staking his claim as the best power forward in the game. Blake Griffin, meanwhile, is shakily maintaining his throne after a disappointing first game against the Golden State Warriors. Chris Paul’s family lineage indicates a history of assistance, but the fourth quarter is when he takes it all upon himself. The Mavs are stressing out the usually unflappable Spurs, whose now 38-year-old anchor must take more responsibility. Wizards gonna Wiz, and Grizzlies gonna Grizz. The Hawks are up on the toast of the East, the Indiana Pacers, and their defensive master has more in common with Russell Stover than Bill Russell. The Thunder are not dominating as usual. Even the Bobcats are pushing the mighty Heat, with Al Jefferson trying to do his best Willis Reed impersonation. This is the first round of the NBA playoffs. Does it get any better than this?

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Smits

 

You may ask yourself, “Why, Blog Lord, is there a picture of Rik Smits and Patrick Ewing at the top of this week’s 3-Pointer?” There are a number of reasons, some better than others: firstly, I am going to the Netherlands for my final undergraduate spring break, and the Netherlands has produced exactly one (1) decent NBA player, Smits. This is a celebration of that. Second, ’90s NBA is best NBA, although we might be catching up with this era. Finally, it sort of looks like Ewing might block that Smits shot, which was probably the last great thing any Knick or Knick-related entity did on defense. Elsewhere, Phil Jackson and the Knicks are a teenage pseudo-romance, and the Heat and Pacers, sans Rik Smits, are struggling, but they’ve earned that. Also, we may finally have seen the last of one of the most brilliant point guards in NBA history.

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PhilThe ongoing grotesque carnival of human misery that is the New York Knickerbockers “basketball” franchise is at it again, with reports surfacing that the team met with 11-time NBA champion and maniacal guru Phil Jackson about possibly becoming the next head coach to stroll the sidelines of Madison Square Garden. No word yet on incumbent Mike Woodson’s reaction yet, though I have an idea of what it might look like. Elsewhere, the Lakers receive a full-on franchise posterization courtesy of their in-house rivals, and LeBron is not into sleeves.

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BlakeThe halcyon days of Blake Griffin as “the world’s best dunk artist who just happens to play professional basketball” are over in Los Angeles. Without Chris Paul, Lob City has managed to go 12-6 without their leader and guide, Chris Paul, and Griffin’s magisterial performance in a losing effort against the Heat on February 5 was one of the most exciting and thought-provoking games of the season. Elsewhere, Dan Gilbert is doing his best not to foster a Steinbrenner-Martin relationship with Mike Brown, and the Lakers played out an near-video game scenario against those very same Cavaliers. Also, the Brow is an All-Star for the very first time, and Damian Lillard can destroy anything with a basketball in his hand.

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20111130_Royce_White_seatedRoyce White remains enigmatic, and Houston GM Daryl Morey seems to believe that laying claim to the “worst first-round pick ever” is a point of pride. The YMCA league all-star continues to frustrate and perplex fans and the media, even two years after his last competitive basketball game. Elsewhere, Carmelo Anthony scores 62 at Madison Square Garden, showing that he’s probably tired of losing, and the basketball-viewing public should take time to appreciate the excellent generation of players we are able to see on a nightly basis right now. It may never happen quite like this again.

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drake_and_ford.jpg.size.xxlarge.promo

2013 brought many strange occurrences and changes. From the triumphant, like Jason Collins’ admission of homosexuality, to the tragic, like the Boston Marathon bombings, to the downright necessary, like Pope Francis and the charge toward universal acceptance. Toronto got some run, with Drake and Mayor Rob Ford (pictured above) giving the Ontarian capital a few things to consider aside from the Maple Leafs’ collapse and a distinct lack of Chris Bosh in recent years. It also brought a website, born of a hellish New York morning and a few text and Facebook messages, which, we hope, you have enjoyed thus far. Now, several of us discuss 2013 in its many forms. How could 2014 ever follow this performance?

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Courtesy of AP Images

Courtesy of AP Images

Hope you’ve had a supreme 2013 and that there is more in store for 20-1-4. LeBron is turning 29, having already accomplished enough to merit Hall of Fame induction if he retired tomorrow. What is in store for the King, maybe halfway through his career? Also, James Harden as the theoretical unstoppable force facing an entirely movable object in free throws, and Andrew Bynum is this year’s George Sauer, probably without the journalism aspirations. But you never know with that guy, and that hair.

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