As far as measures of retribution are concerned, this NBA Finals went off without a hitch. The Heat lost to the heat before losing to the Spurs. Which one was more impactful will be Twitter fodder for months to come, though the answer is truly (painfully?) obvious. Tim Duncan re-asserted his claim as the best player of his generation, as well as his astute normcore brilliance. Kawhi Leonard has become the Duncan to Duncan’s David Robinson, hopefully. LeBron James has some serious pondering ahead of him. Basketball is fun.
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.
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.
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?
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.
The 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.
Jason Collins officially became the first openly gay professional athlete to play in one of the four major North American sports this week, and the immeasurable positivity surrounding his situation has rendered any predicted backlash moot. Elsewhere, LeBron becomes Bane, as if he wasn’t that already, and Boogie Cousins returns to his scheming, maniacal ways.