I regret to inform the readers that as I write this blog, I just witnessed Tuesday Night Football for the first time, people are talking about the rebirth of the Showtime Lakers, and we are on the verge of seeing a Fall Classic showdown between the Atlanta Braves and the Tampa Bay Rays.We all know the narrative of sports in 2020: Seasons were cancelled before the playoffs in the spring, and everyone went through a bad sports withdrawal throughout the spring and summer, hoping that we would have something to watch come fall.Luckily, all the major sports leagues were able to salvage their seasons, and we got to watch playoff basketball, hockey and baseball at the same time as the NFL regular season.If you told me this a few years ago, I probably would have been psyched at the idea of having relevant sports contests every night of the week.Now that we actually have it, I must say the first word that comes to mind is “lackluster”.Last week, I wrote about the disappointment that was the 60 game MLB regular season, and I had ended the blog with higher expectations that the playoffs would provide redemption, and that I was actually a bit excited at the idea of the expanded playoffs.Also, during the time of the blog, we had yet to see any reports of COVID-19 affecting the NFL, and the Lakers had not yet been crowned champions.Now, I would be lying if I said it was an entertaining week of sports and that I was satisfied how everything went.
On the state of the NBA:
Let’s start with the NBA, where I did not have very high expectations of the Finals, but somehow managed to find myself more nauseated by the result than I was the matchup.First, let me clear the air and say the things I was entertained by: WATCHING (not hearing) LeBron James continue to be the most dominant player on the court at age 36 (with an Anthony Davis in his prime), and seeing Jimmy Butler elevate his game to a level to which we had never seen before by going toe-to-toe with LBJ in games 4 and 5.That was some awesome content to digest, but then reality sunk in as the Lakers bested a Heat team that had a quite a magical run, and earned the affection of basketball fans who don’t identify as either hardcore Lakers fans or hardcore LeBron fans.Quite honestly, I didn’t have an immediate knee-jerk reaction towards the Lakers winning their 17th title until the immediate postgame comments in which both the players and fans left a sour taste in my mouth.I don’t know which was more insufferable, Lakers fans comparing this shortened bubble-season Lakers teams to the championship Lakers teams of the past, or the best player on the planet demanding even more “respect” after proving he still holds the label of the most dominant player in the game.
Listen, I could go into an entire blog about why I think LeBron deserves to be in the discussion with Jordan as the greatest player of all time based solely on his actions on the court, but I personally also chose to incorporate all of the intangibles when judging a player on that topic.If you asked me to give you my top 5 or top 10 of the greatest players of all time, I’d give you my list purely based off on the court performance, but when you want to ask me who the greatest and most dominant individual player of all time was, I will absolutely factor in everything else.Again, this isn’t the time or place to go into that comparison, but the moment LeBron demanded more respect for winning his 4th title (to which he was insinuating almost certainly at the debate between him and Jordan), I instantly ended any thought I gave towards that question.Sorry to the LeBron truthers out there, but I’m going with the guy that bolted to the casino after receiving his trophy versus the guy that demanded more respect from the fans.
The next part of my thoughts on the NBA Finals hits a little hard for me, and it boils down to just not being as entertained by the game as I once was before. Between the weird playoff bubble scenario and the transition of the game even between now and 20 years ago with the Shaq & Kobe Lakers. When it comes to the NBA, the first thing I am troubled about the most is that I was too young to comprehend and appreciate the game from the 1980’s era up to the greatness of Jordan and the Bulls of the 90’s.Luckily, I have been able to witness players like Tom Brady and (arguably) Lebron become the most dominant player of all time in their respective sports, but I certainly do regret that I was unable to see basketball at its peak performance.I have to rely on things like the 30/30’s with Magic and Bird or The Last Dance to be able to attempt to relive those moments, but having missed them live surely is a loss.I started following the sport closely around the era of the Shaq/Kobe teams, and I must say it was startling to hear, what I am hoping was a minority opinion, of how this current team could have competed with the other Lakers dynasties, or how they were as entertaining to watch as those teams.I understand that fans, especially the younger ones, love to get excited about witnessing their favorite team win a championship, but I truly do feel bad for any diehard basketball fan that did not get to watch (and I say this having not witnessed the golden days) of bully ball, and what is was like to see teams like the 80’s or 2000’s Lakers teams.To sum it all up, the league was just so much more entertaining the last time the Lakers won a title, and it pains me to think that those days of the NBA are long gone.
As I ponder where the direction of the NBA is headed going into the offseason, I fear that the narrative of the league won’t change its course anytime soon.In my opinion, the best thing that happened to the NBA this year was to see a team like the Heat make a surprise run and almost shock the world on how they squeezed in and won a title.Everyone reading this blog is well aware of the power which star players around this league command, and the construction of super teams will on further continue.When the Lakers traded for Anthony Davis last year, you cannot deny that Lebron had his fingerprints all over that move, and that he was not vital in orchestrating that move.Everyone knows that Kawhi Leonard signing with the Clippers was contingent upon them acquiring Paul George, or else he might have been winning a title with Lebron and company this year.Everyone hears the talk of how great the Nets will be next year, the time quite literally *collaboratively* coached by KD and Kyrie, two guys that collaborated on where they would play together.Everyone is waiting to see if Giannis decides to give his demands to the Bucks and acquire the star player of his choice, or announce that he will be taking his talents to an already star-ladened team.But then you have teams like the Miami Heat, who are composed of one star player that didn’t have his say on who he played alongside with him.In fact, when the Sixers informed Jimmy Butler that they would not be giving him a max extension, he requested to go to a Heat team that was still considered to be a playoff contender, but was devoid of any major star talent, because of the culture of the organization.I will elaborate more on this subject in a later blog, but for now, all I can say is I hope to see more star players take the Jimmy Butler route instead of the Lebron/KD/Kyrie route.