May 30, 2016, 5:20 am
It’s that randomly selected, serves-no-actual-purpose-outside-of-it-being-on-a-weekly-basis time of the week again! That’s right, Last Week This Morning is back with another edition of hot hoops basketball scoops and words and swish! Shoot, slam, mama there goes that man, hand down, man down, GINOBILIIIII!
Thunder vs. Warriors
How could I possibly start off a weekly recap column without opening on Warriors vs. Thunder thoughts?
I wrote in this very column two weeks ago about how having the Oklahoma City Thunder win the NBA Finals would make for the best story. In the interest of not repeating myself, I’ll let you go read that here if you’d like, and simply recap by saying that I like NBA drama, and an Oklahoma City win would result in the most slash best NBA drama.
This is so much fun, by the way. I mean, that isn’t a bold statement or anything, but if you think back to how most NBA folks felt about this series heading into it, I’d say most predicted a good series but an eventual Warriors win, which is to say, everyone had high hopes for an interesting series, and heavens to Betsy they’ve exceeded all expectations.
In that previous referenced column, I came stupidly close to actually predicting a Thunder win with no facts to back it up. I just had a hunch that the Thunder had made a mental hurdle when they defeated the Spurs in the fashion that they did, and when/if mentally sharp, they can, should, and would compete with anyone.
Stephen Curry was still an injury question mark, and while I would eventually talk myself out of a full-blown prediction, man did I think OKC could pull off an upset here.
That doesn’t make me special, by the way, plenty of people saw what I saw, and this series couldn’t be closer heading into Game 7.
For as much mental strength as the Thunder showed against the Spurs, I did not like how they looked down the stretch in Game 6 against the Warriors.
I try to avoid harsh or negative words like ‘choke’ to describe a loss like the one the Thunder saw in Game 6. That’s partly because I feel like there is some sense of … I don’t know … when I hear people say the Thunder ‘choked’ it sounds like they are suggesting they are mentally stronger. That they would react in a less-choking manner if put in a similar situation. I like to read body language and play sports therapist as much as anybody, but I just don’t feel comfortable saying something that strong.
So, with respect, and with using more friendly and less-suggestive words than ‘choke’ or ‘quit’, I am very concerned with the Thunders’ mindset heading into Game 7.
For whatever reason, they had a mental and physical collapse in Game 6 down the stretch. I don’t know if you can come back from that, particularly when the 73-win Warriors are your opposition and you’re playing in Oakland. I just have a very hard time seeing the Thunder pull that one off, but hey, I already expressed my allegiance to the Thunder, I’m rooting for their story, and in this case, nothing would make me happier than to be wrong.
And if they do pull it off, oh man. That is some serious mental strength, let me tell you. If they can seriously put the end of the 4th quarter in Game 6 behind them, Game 7 should be fantastic.
The NBA released voting results for their All-NBA teams, and while some people were upset about the results, I’m not sure what the voters were supposed to do differently?
The most-notable criticism was the selection of DeAndre Jordan to the All-NBA first team, which ‘forced’ (and I use that term loosely here) Kevin Durant to the All-NBA second team. It really had nothing to do with Jordan. The NBA has rules for this sort of thing, one ‘center’ needs to be on each team, and the forward positions were occupied by LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard, and that forced Durant off the first team.
What can you do about that?
Nothing, and I hope the NBA keeps it that way.
Despite how marginalized centers have become in recent years, I don’t think that we should just stop acknowledging the position.
Obviously Kevin Durant is a better player than DeAndre Jordan. Most of the players on the NBA second and third teams are better than DeAndre Jordan, but that slot is for that position. If you want to make an overall ‘these are the five best players in the NBA’ list at the end of every year, cool, fine, I’m on board. I’d argue that MVP voting kind of serves that ‘these are the best guys’ purpose, but hey, that is only one mans opinion.
Now, I don’t think that DeAndre Jordan is the best center in the NBA, either, but that is another conversation for a different day. Besides, there is nothing more boring than reading someones thoughts on All-NBA voting. Who would ever write such a thing?
Steven Adams Is A Star
Is there a player in the NBA playoffs that is having a better social run than Steven Adams? Shout out to Bismack Biyombo for making things interesting in the East for a few minutes, but Steven Adams is delivering quality off-court entertainment on a daily basis, and I certainly appreciate it.
Steven Adams has probably always been ‘this’ guy, but during the course of the regular season there is so much NBA noise that it makes it hard for non-star players’ personalities to shine. Adams’ is basically a household (NBA household, but still) name at this point, and part of that is because of how hard he plays, and the other part of it is the efficiency of his sound bites.
He’s giving ESPN, and radio dudes across America quality audio content every single day, and it appears completely genuine. It doesn’t seem forced, or fake, or fame seeking in any way, shape, or form.
I’ve watched and/or heard at least 30 clips of Adams throughout these playoffs, and I can specifically remember 15-20 amazing lines, or phrases, or takes, or perspectives that he’s shared. As an NBA fan, and as someone who genuinely cares about the popularity and healthiness of this game, I love it. People know who Steven Adams is, and I don’t think they did a couple of months ago. Keep doing your thing, mate.