When I was a kid, I got separated from my dad at a carnival, for what seemed like an eternity. But my dad said it was only about a minute, and he was never more than 10 ft away, watching me the entire time. To me, at 7 or 8 years old, it felt like forever! When my dad finally came over and put his hand on my shoulder, I had crocodile tears in my eyes, in a complete state of panic. But I remember what he said next, “I was just across the isle, but you couldn’t see me, because you panicked, and let your emotions get the best of you.” That is one of the lessons that I learned as a kid, that has really stuck, and a lesson I teach my kids today.
We saw a bunch of kids learn that lesson. OKC lost in the NBA finals, not because they didn’t have the talent, but because in crucial times, they let their emotions get the best of them. They aren’t the first team to do this, and won’t be the last. I think back to the late 90’s when Jordan and the Bulls were trying to get past the Pistons, en route to 6 of 8 NBA championships, they went through it! Before the Lakers won 3 in a row, Kobe had to tone it down a bit. And I have to admit, I have let my emotions get the best of me as well. For the last few years, I have let my personal dislike for some of things Lebron James did in the past affect my better judgment. I wanted OKC to win, but deep down, I new it wasn’t time yet, but I just couldn’t stand the though of Lebron getting a ring. But he stepped up big time, and won it. Now, I’m still not much of a Lebron James fan, but I can no longer deny his impact on the game. While he may not be the most talented, or the most focused, he is without question, the most dominant player to step on an NBA court since Shaquille started tearing down rims in 1992. He’s both skilled and powerful. But his past decisions have cast him as a villain, and to be honest, I’m not sure he isn’t good for the NBA.
Beyond that, here are some general observations from this years playoffs.
1. Kevin Durant will surpass Lebron James as the best player of this generation (post Kobe). Just as Kobe did, post Jordan. Durant showed, on the biggest stage in professional basketball, that he is the real deal, but that’s not what drew me to this conclusion. It’s the total body of work. He is one of the best shooters in the league, while his assists numbers may not be as good as Lebron’s, he does a better job of getting/allowing his teammates to get going. Lebron has the ball in his hands so much, that it becomes difficult for his teammates to get going on their own. The greatest example of what of what I’m saying, is watching his effect on Dwayne Wade! Wades points per game are the lowest they’ve been since his rookie season, same thing for his assists. While Durant has learned how to thrive with other great players on the floor with him. Both Westbrook and Harden have had careers. That to me is the difference. People talk about how James makes everyone else better, but the truth is, he only makes bad players better. He can’t sacrifice of himself enough to allow his all-star caliber teammates to thrive. Which leads me to my second observations…
2. Somebody’s gotta go!!! – Either James, or Wade? But they can’t co-exist. They both have to dominate the ball to be successful. The problem is James is such a physical specimen, he is the easy choice. Which means nothing but bad things for Wade. Bosh is always the target of ridicule, but he showed his worth during the playoffs. When he came back during he Boston series the Heat finally started playing like champions. There’s something to be said about the GLUE guy, he gets over looked, but without him, the team simply doesn’t go.
3. The way the Heat team is currently constructed, they will always be better than 90% of the NBA, so they will always have a chance. BUT, the 3 teams that are better than they are, and there will always be 3, will challenge them for a championship, so they will have to always be on. They won it this year, and will no doubt be in the running next year, but OKC learned what playoff basketball is all about. Not to mention the Bulls will be healthy next season, so while there is no doubt the Heat will always be a contender, I’m not so sure Lebron’s prediction of many more champions may take more than just putting on the jersey and showing up to the Arena