OK, that’s ridiculous. But, what can I say… sometimes it’s fun to pretend you’re Stephen A. Smith.
That’s not to say it’s wrong. In the limited way an NBA game can be important, tonight’s Game 5 is the most important there’s been in at least a decade. No, it’s not Game 7. But whoever wins tonight in Dallas is almost definitely going to win one of the next two in Miami (especially if Miami comes out ahead tonight). And for almost everybody involved, there’s alot on the line (OK, maybe not for Mike Miller… he’s going to suck regardless).
LeBron and Dirk vs. Their Legacies:
The most overrated superstar in recent NBA history (as of today anyway) vs. the most underrated. Both would put a bunch of things to rest if they were to win the title. For Dirk, it would mean moving from the third-tier kids table to the second-tier adults table, with only legends like MJ, Wilt, Magic, etc. up at the head table (how’s that for overstretching a metaphor). That Dirk is the best non-U.S. NBA player ever is undeniable (go fuck a moose, Nash). He’s actually pretty close to Larry Bird in makeup, abilities… everything but results. Sure, he was fucked out of a championship by the refs (against Wade and the Heat), but rings are rings… you can’t be mentioned as an all-time great without one (in basketball anyway). He “deserves” one, but it’s still up to him to get it.
And BronBron… where to start? He’s in a bit of a self-imposed pickle, is he. Because of the way he’s been Wade’s bitch thus far in the Finals, it isn’t enough for him to simply win a ring. If things continue as they’ve gone, sure he’ll get that monkey off his back. But everybody will know he got it as a second banana (or third… Bosh is outscoring him thus far for fuck’s sake). Maybe (probably) he doesn’t give a shit. But you can’t be the King if you don’t show up for the battles.
Wade vs. Immortality:
On second thought, maybe Dwayne Wade is the most underrated superstar in recent NBA history. If he wins a second ring carrying LeBron (after carrying Shaq the first time), he needs to be mentioned with the big boys every time, not sometimes as happens now. Kobe, Carmelo, LeBron, etc. may get all the pub, but there’s nobody in the NBA since Jordan that I’d rather have on my team with a big game on the line. If only he wasn’t such a despicable human being.
Rick Carlisle already has a ring (as a benchwarmer for the ’86 Celtics), but kind of “deserves” one as a coach. He’s the only coach in NBA history to take three separate teams to the Conference Finals. And in his previous two stops, he had some awful luck. He was fired by the Pistons a year after winning Coach of the Year, only to see his replacement Larry Brown (who also kind of “deserved” a ring) win the championship. And he was rolling with a juggarnaut in Indiana when the Artest/Jackson brawl destroyed his team. By all accounts, he’s one of the best coaches in the NBA.
Eric Spoelstra looks adorable on the sidelines, and… well that’s about it. But maybe it doesn’t matter.
Deserving Supporting Players:
Jason Kidd: One of the best PGs in NBA history, who made two consecutive Finals almost single-handedly (only to run into Shaq and Tim Duncan in their primes). He’s been playing at a high level since the year The Dilemma and I graduated high school.
Peja Stojakovic: Maybe the best Serbian ever to play in the NBA (which is actually saying something). Was on the 2002 Sacramento Kings, who are the only team to have a case this century of getting more screwed by the refs than the ’06 Mavs.
Tyson Chandler: In his tenth NBA season and still only 28. The Bulls traded Elton Brand for him on Draft Day 2001 (when they also got high-schooler Eddy Curry). Don’t really have anything here… both are just really depressing.
Juwan Howard: Will the last Fab Fiver also be the first to win an NBA championship?
Good Vs. Evil:
Sorry, Stephen A. Smith took over my body again.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t some truth to this as well. The reason that basketball is so rewarding to follow is that it has a rhythm, a karma that other sports don’t. The NFL is pretty much random at this point, and MLB is zzzzzzzz. What, oh, sorry about that. But the NBA consistently rewards two things: tenacious superstars and team chemistry.
The Miami Heat, more than any of their other faults, threatens to upend all of this. Their roster and their play is a mess… but they have three All-Stars, including two of the best three or four players in the league. Nevermind that one of them is a complete pussy when the pressure is on.
If they win this year, it sends a message to the other teams in the league that a new era has dawned. And it won’t be as fun to watch.