Old-Timers Beware: Final Thoughts on the NBA Season

Old-Timers Beware: Final Thoughts on the NBA Season

Golden State Warriors players and coaches celebrate with the Larry O'Brien Trophy. Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

A lot has been said around the sports world, by writers and fans alike, around the NBA finals. Is LeBron James the GOAT? Is Kevin Durant a chump for joining the team that knocked his out of the playoffs during the previous season? Can Stephen Curry play well in the finals? Well, now that they’re all said and done and I’ve had some time to process all the sense and nonsense, here are some thoughts I have about these finals. Warning, they’re mostly about Kevin Durant, because he’s been the most talked about.

1. We, as fans, put winning championships above all else. Then how are fans that do that gonna knock KD cus he didn’t do it “right”? These same fans would’ve knocked him if he stayed and never won one, saying he “didn’t have it in him.” Don’t move the goalposts, either. It’s the most important thing in sports or it’s not or set limits on what a “legit ring” looks like. I mean, there are exceptions – like don’t go Tonya Harding or Spygate on people.

2. Who cares if a player goes to the team he lost to the season before in the playoffs? Seriously, say that you’re working hard at a mid-level organization that sometimes makes some big moves, but has capped out its ceiling. Then you get an offer from the top organization in the nation/world that took a client you were going after, you gonna stay? Or say you get an offer from Harvard and University of Wisconsin, both full rides: Don’t tell me you getting to UW because it’s your home state. You ain’t. KD took the best offer. We would, too.

3. LeBron definitely had a super team in Miami, just cus he didn’t lose to them doesn’t mean he didn’t put something together just to win a ring; that was his explicit goal. Remember the stage performance when the “Big 3” talked about not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4? They were a completely different team, with almost a completely different set of players, when he came there compared to the season before. Just because they had a harder time figuring out how to play together, doesn’t mean they weren’t a super team. James put it together to beat the Celtics. Which leads to point 4.

4. KD didn’t see Golden State as his obstacle, it was LeBron James, so he picked the organization he felt would give him the best chance of beating King James.

5. I ain’t mad at players taking their careers into their own hands. More power to players and less to owners.

6. LeBron James is the best player of this generation and easily the second best of all time. You can make an argument for him being the 1B best player of all time. I’m not quite ready to make that argument, but it’s there to be made. It’s MJ, James, and then everyone else. MJ used to live in his own land far away from everyone else, but James now has a nice patch on that land. Old heads that don’t recognize this need to get over themselves. It’s completely irrational to think that no one ever could challenge MJ, not to mention nostalgia is a hell of a drug; don’t let it infect you.

7. GS ain’t cheat either, like any smart org they keep looking at ways to get better and they are smart about how they go around collecting and developing talent. The opposite of how Oklahoma City approached things. OKC had a great core team and mismanaged their way out of it. Through poor coaching choices in letting David Brooks stay one to two seasons too long, through poor player development, and through poor retention and collection of players. Let’s not knock a team for doing it better than everyone else. They are a combination of amazing two-way players that no one else has right now, with the best scorer and best shooter in the NBA. They combine Spurs all team play, with Suns space and pace, revolutionary outside shooting, with two-way players. They are the future of the NBA. You can’t replicate by trying to find the next Curry or KD, but you can find players that can play two-ways and do great team ball that are quick and lengthy.

8. Furthering point two, don’t lie, you’d have done the same thing as KD. OKC reached its peak, the team and organization were stalling out and mismanaged talent through the years. KD saw that and Westbrook (as great as he is) put a cap on KD. Westbrook is great, but how many times was KD going to be standing there as Westbrook iso’s up to dribble and shoot? You can’t say you would intentionally choose the harder path over the one of least resistance. Someone says, “I see your great talent and here’s a ‘lotto ticket’ that will give you a 99.9999999% of getting to your life goals since you were eight years old,” or you can work hard for years at a mid-level org and maybe, maybe reach your goals? What path are you taking? Don’t lie to yourself, you already know what you taking, you’re lying if you say otherwise.

9. If you watched the post-game and saw how happy KD and his mother were and still trashed him, you kinda trash. Be happy for the man. He reached his stated life goal since he was eight years old. Don’t be mad because you didn’t do that or because he didn’t do it in a way of your “approval.” You’re real trash for knocking the man reaching his dream, especially when you would’ve done the exact same thing; again, don’t lie.

10. Last note, there has never been parity in the NBA. Rarely has there been more than three or four teams that are true contenders and usually only two to three. Lakers and Celtics split seven rings between them in the ‘80s, Bulls had six in the ‘90s … and those teams were stacked, too. Super teams ain’t nothing new, neither is lack of parity in the NBA. Just how it’s done and how it now looks is a little different. But don’t be the old man yelling at the clouds cuz it’s more player-centric now.

11. Seriously, last note, if you travel to the past and pull those ’80s & ’90s teams to the present to play, they getting destroyed by both Golden State and Cleveland. Magic Johnson couldn’t dribble with his left hand, people, and the defense was iso trash. Watch those games: you have Larry Bird backing down from 20 feet out. 20 feet out! Players now are bigger, stronger, faster, quicker, more athletic, and play against far more complicated defenses. Hand checking wasn’t as hard as y’all make it out to be, again, nostalgia is a hell of a drug. You thought Bird’s back was bad then? Wait until he see’s LeBron James barreling down at him, he’d need surgery on the court. And players these days would destroy iso defense, especially with Golden State’s ball movement, with KD & Step pick and rolls. It’d be a slaughter. And I’m about to drop a bomb as my last sentence, KD will go down as third-best player of all time (he’s 1B as best in NBA right now).
Oh, and Steph is better than Magic Johnson.

Written by Matthew Braunginn

Matthew Braunginn

Matthew Braunginn is a Madison native and civil rights activist.