The NBA Season is winding down, which is terrifying me. To demonstrate how far apart baseball and I have grown over the years I now call the months between the end of NBA Season and the beginning of the NFL “tennis season.” #TeamNadal. Even though my Utah Jazz did not even make the playoffs this NBA playoffs promised ample opportunities to be right and enjoy myself. Here are the 4 main predictions/thoughts I had before the playoffs:
1) Lebron James is the best basketball player in the world and well on his way to GOAT status.
2) Why Can’t The Spurs Win The West – they keep winning 60 games and seem ageless?
3) The Knicks Cannot Win with Melo. He is a second tier star that Knick fans think is a first tier star.
4) The Pacers are going to beat the Knicks in 6. They do not have the established “star” yet of Melo’s hype, but they are much better than the Knicks.
Well, not to start calling myself the Righteous Sports Guy, but four for four. The Spurs are now in the Finals. Sure Russell Westbrook’s injury helped, but the Spurs completely dismantled the Grizzlies, which I don’t think many people could have predicted (even me). This makes me happy only because it has the potential to move Tim Duncan (2 regular season MVPs and 3 time Finals MVP) ahead of Kobe on the best player/best leader all time list (as much for Kobe as it is for Kobe fans who I do battle with). The Knicks lost exactly how I believed they would, while Knick fans continue to say that “Melo needs more help” instead of saying “the Knicks need to build around a star who plays a complete game and makes teammates better.” Good luck Knicks with the 6 seed and a first round exit in 2013-14. Lebron is proving to be the most electrifying man in sports entertainment (sorry The Rock). Lebron’s court intelligence, dominance of every aspect of the game, and freakish athleticism (only Lebron could make last night’s block of George Hill appear to be predictable and routine) have made Lebron my favorite thing to watch in sports that is not a Usain Bolt sprint. I root for him because I want to keep watching him play basketball (and based on last night’s illegal screen foul call, I believe David Stern also wants to watch him play more) and because I like seeing his irrational haters more angry.
But before a Spurs-Heat Finals is official, the deep, disciplined and admirable Indiana Pacers remain in the way. The Pacers appear to have the kind of team I wish the Jazz had. They have a near-superstar Paul George (before the playoffs I said Paul George for Melo straight up would be a huge win for the Knicks, even just for this year and was called crazy), several very good players and most importantly, Roy Hibbert. When Hibbert entered the NBA I was not a fan. First off he went to Georgetown, a sworn enemy of mine ever since law school. Second, his body and game resembled an evolutionary predecessor to NBA bust Hasheem Thabeet. But then Hibbert did something. He worked his ass off. He is now arguably the second best center in the NBA behind a healthy Dwight Howard (but no one likes that guy anyway). And he co-starred on a couple of episodes of Parks and Recreation. How can you not like Roy Hibbert?
So now America is presented with three possible choices/leaders in the NBA Finals: Lebron James, Roy Hibbert and Tony Parker. Now I am squarely in James’ camp for reasons listed above. However, Hibbert is a respectable and admirable choice. But unless you are from San Antonio or Paris I cannot respect a choice of Tony Parker.
If you root for Lebron James you honor America’s tradition of greatness and exceptionalism (and ignore today’s current narcissism and jealousy of those clearly better than you)
If you root for Roy Hibbert you honor America’s tradition of hard work leading to success and defying expectations (though admittedly the expectations of a 7’2″ black man succeeding in the NBA are slightly higher than normal).
However if you root for Tony Parker (especially as some sad bitter struggle against Lebron) then you are supporting a man who fu*ked a teammate’s wife, cheated on his Hollywood actress wife and is based in a foreign country. In other words, Tony Parker may be the best embodiment of America today!
So enjoy these last 6-10 NBA games of the season before tennis gets into full… swing!