May 16, 2016, 1:06 am
Good Morning, and welcome to Last Week This Morning – The NBA column where everything’s made up and the points don’t matter. Conference finals!
I’d like to see the Oklahoma City Thunder win the championship this season, and I’m going do my best to convince you to root for them as well.
First and foremost, I don’t really care who wins the championship this season, this is just for funsies, but I cannot watch a sporting event without at least some passing rooting interest. If I’m not rooting for either team at the beginning of an athletic event, I’ll find a reason to pick one team over the other as the game progresses.
In most cases, I root for the best story. I’ll frequently ask myself ‘what outcome is the most interesting?’ and root according. If we’re OK calling the Cleveland Cavaliers the Eastern Conference representatives in the NBA Finals (and I am) that leaves you with three options – the Cavaliers, the Thunder, and the Warriors.
I love Russell Westbrook, in large part because he has such an interesting ‘story’, or at the very least, the media has crafted and assigned him a ‘story’ that I find fascinating, and nothing would make me happier than to see Westbrook carry a team to a Finals victory and watch that narrative change. Right now, he is an athletic freak maniac chucker who could be a multiple time champion if he’d only defer to Kevin Durant. I’m exaggerating, of course. The Westbrook narrative has a lot of nuance and most of it’s fair! But he is an amazing player who probably gets more criticism than he’s earned because he’s so fun to talk about. I want to see how his legacy changes after winning the big one.
The Golden State Warriors are Finals favorites and for good reason. They just finished up the greatest regular season in NBA history, and they are amazing, literally. We’ve talked about the Warriors ad nauseam, but they are what everyone claims they are – a NBA powerhouse that could win the next five NBA championships and it wouldn’t shock me. As a fan of parity I cannot root for the Warriors. If you’re telling me I have to root for someone (and that is another angle I approach sporting events from – you MUST pick a side) it’s not going to be the favorites. I like fun. The favorites aren’t fun.
As a fan of NBA chaos, I cannot root for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavaliers are the most combustible contender. A plethora of plugged in NBA people have predicted some sort of a LeBron James exodus should the Cavaliers lose, and I cannot think of a better way to spend my summer than with a ‘Decision 2.0’. Please, please, please, please, PLEASE! I probably want the Cavaliers to lose more than I want any of these teams to win.
I feel for Cleveland sports fans, I really, really do! I want them to win something someday, and I’m sure they will, but having Cleveland suck is such a huge part of sports culture in 2016 that I’d hate to see that go away PARTICULARLY when the alternative is another potential LeBron James circus. GIVE IT TO ME, basketball gods. Give me the circus.
Charles Barkley said something last week that really hit me, and it meant a lot considering where these words were coming from. Barkley referenced the fact that he never won a championship when talking about how he’d like to see Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook win one before they hang it up. To make a long story short, Barkley wants great players to win a championship, and I agree with that sentiment. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are awesome. They are generational talents. LeBron James has a ring, the Warriors have a ring, Russ and KD don’t, and I’d like to see them get one, particularly while they’re still together.
TL;DR – I’m rooting for the Thunder, because I think that would create the most interesting NBA storyline.
I think I like Dwight Howard now
If you missed it, drop whatever you’re doing immediately (or at least stop reading this) and go watch Dwight Howard’s fascinating interview on TNT from last week. I’m not saying it was a perfect interview, or that all of the TNT crews’ criticisms were fair, or that all of Howard’s answers were satisfactory, but the interview itself was riveting. I couldn’t take my eyes off it.
I really respect Howard for answering every tough question with about as much sincerity and candor as you could possibly expect, and on some strange level, I find myself hoping Howard finds a good fit somewhere next season.
I didn’t expect to talk about different coaching changes every week, but this offseason has been downright nutty in the coaching world. Just when you thought everything was starting to settle down, Scott Skiles resigns as head coach of the Orlando Magic. As a lifelong Skiles ‘hater’ (I use that term VERY MUCH in jest, I’ve talked about how hard it is to evaluate coaching in the past, but I’m not a huge fan of Skiles’ style) I do think that this can and will work out for the Magic.
I think Rob Hennigan is a very good general manager. I don’t think Skiles was the best fit for a rebuilding team despite how well I thought they performed at times this season. The mid-season Tobias Harris trade was ill-advised, but by and large, I still like what the Magic are doing, I still believe in the young talent there, and I like it a lot more under the coaching of Frank Vogel, Ettore Messina, or (potentially) one of the other solid coaching free agents out there.