What if I told you that one documentary could spotlight what was missing from today’s NBA landscape?
We are nearly one week removed from the completion of the NBA Finals. The Golden State Warriors avenged last year’s loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers by taking this year’s matchup four games to one. Kevin Durant became the Finals MVP and celebrated with his new team.
It should’ve been a defining moment in the NBA. Instead, a hollow feeling emerged.
Warriors’ fans might say how they needed Durant to win despite having Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Cavaliers’ fans might say how it took four superstars to beat their one in LeBron James. The fans on the outside looking in might state that their teams don’t stand a chance against either team.
A glimmer of hope arrived in the form of a tale from the past on June 13 and 14. ESPN’s latest 30 for 30 documentary featured the storied rivalry of the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1980s. “Celtics/Lakers: Best of Enemies” was fitting to see this war take center stage once more.
It’s highly recommended viewing whether you love the sport or not, but it also exposed the NBA’s current problem: lacking conviction.
Larry Bird led the Celtics to demolish the Lakers. Magic Johnson fueled his Lakers to embarrass the Celtics. These two cities in Boson and Los Angeles had so much animosity that it made everyone pick sides.
In the end, both teams earned mutual respect from each other. But the hatred remains.
Granted, we’re not asking for brawling to return. That only diminishes basketball’s beauty.
If anything, we just want the fire to return. Where is the passion of yesteryear?
We should see LeBron James festering over what happened to his Cavaliers. Instead, he’s acting like nothing happened.
Maybe he got so used to losing in the Finals that it doesn’t affect him. His Finals record is 3-5, after all. Yet, that’s no excuse to take a laissez-fair approach after playing in the culmination of the season.
We need to see these players care about whether they win or lose. We lost that with the majority of these players.
However, there are a few who are like that. Ironically enough, Durant and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder are built from that old cloth.
Durant was vilified for his no-nonsense demeanor when being interviewed about the blowouts the Warriors were giving to opponents. He didn’t care because he knew about the task at hand.
Westbrook didn’t watch the NBA Finals, which apparently stunned a few fans. Why wouldn’t he watch an NBA Finals with his former teammate in Durant, who left the Thunder because he didn’t believe he could win a championship with that team?
There are more players like that, but too few to mention. We need more of that. Emotion must be put back into this game to survive in the long haul. This isn’t a financial problem; it’s a competitive one.
If more players looked back and played like their role models, then this NBA will surpass everything by tenfold.
The talent and skill do not match the passion and intensity that is needed to truly dazzle basketball fans. Perhaps it’s time they start showing that when October 20 rolls along.
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