What a difference a year makes.
This time last June, I was rooting my ass off for the Cavaliers to bring a long deserved title back to the city of Cleveland. I blame it on the Believeland phenomenon because I really didn’t give a piping hot pizza bagel about the Cavaliers but for the snake-bitten history of the franchise and its town. Granted, the great Lenny Wilkens not only played for the team, he later coached them. And yes, Lebron’s history with his home town team is now the stuff of legend. But for reals, this organization has given the NBA more cool names than titles. A top five cool names list? On it!
The Cool 5 of Cavaliers Lore
World B. Free
John “Hot Rod” Williams
This time around, I’m more chill. And while I can’t bring myself to pull for the Warriors (It would be like rooting for Brad Pitt to get laid, really), I most certainly can be alright with them winning it all. Because it means Kevin Durant will find himself at the top of the basketball world, and . . depending on how this series goes down, perhaps the new King of his sport. Because if he plays the rest of this series the way he played tonight, who could argue he hasn’t supplanted Lebron as the game’s top player? I wouldn’t.
My allegiance to the Heat and Lakers prevents me from rooting for other teams unless they are prohibitive underdogs, which kinda cancels me out of this series altogether seeing as how these clubs were chalk from the get. I’m not hating on the “threematch” because I happen to dig the drama of a rock opera rivalry with the sexy contrasts. It’s hot and it’s cool. Both! And it’s why I love this game.
Hey, I’ve been in love with the Association ever since I went to see a hot shot young gun by the name of Larry Bird play the Knicks like a rec team at Madison Square Garden. I got to see Bird, McHale and Dennis Johnson, Bernard King and Sugar Ray Richardson that night. And then things got real. Over the years I took in Kareem and Magic and my all time biggest man crush . . Pat Riley, coaching them up. I saw Artis Gilmore, Sydney Moncrief, George Gervin, Adrian Dantley, Dominique Wilkins, Julius Erving and Moses Malone and Elvin Hayes. Once I got wheels, I trekked down I-95 to Brendan Byrne Arena off Exit 16W where the joint was much less romantic but the patrons were every bit as involved. I took road trips to Philly where my friend George would take me to dinner and a Sixers game at the old Spectrum. A few years later, I was involved with a young lady who was dating a member of the Sixers (The dude was married, but I never could get a name out of her). Lemme tell you, those tickets were like Studio 54 to a young man who loved the game the way I did.
Admittedly, I’m a lapsed fan as far as live proceedings are concerned. I went to one lousy game this year, and watched my Heat get their 13 game winning streak snapped by the Sixers. I’m guessing that was the Karma Police paying me a visit. It’s okay, I deserved it (Even if Pat Riley didn’t.)
As for the Dubs and Cavs, I’m picking Kevin Durant and leaving it right there. He played like the best player in the universe tonight, and I’m loving the idea that the Cavaliers have no blessed idea how to stop him unless they plan on dropping a MOAB on Oracle Arena. Durant was every bit of his bad self, with a karate kick finish. And now he’s played in six Finals games (five with OKC in 2011) and is averaging just a split of a tic under his jersey number 35. He’s that good, and better. And . . and . . and . . if that wasn’t plenty ’nuff, he stared down Rihanna after she yelled ‘Brick!” while he was shooting a free throw. My. Man.
I would love to see KD in a closeout game. And I would love to see who guards him in the most pivotal moments of that game. And I would love it (very much) if Lebron was the guy, because hey, to be the King . . you gots to beat him. And I would really, really love it if last year’s 73 wins needed 35 in order to find redemption. And if that happens, I just might hoop and holler the way I did for Cleveland last June.
I’m very okay with that.