Saturday, May 23, 2009

The NBA – Where Overhype Happens

All the conspiracy theorists in and around the NBA like to talk about how the league is pulling for a Kobe vs. LeBron final, and it's doing everything in its power to make that happen. Uh, duh! Let's keep in mind that the NBA is a business. Competitive disparity, solid basketball and credibilty matter, but ratings and marketing dollars matter more. As long as you know and accept that, all the political BS that comes with the sport is somewhat bearable. It's not perfect, but it's better than baseball.

What's worst right now is that all the so-called critics, pundits and experts are actually buying into the series being a foregone conclusion. The media is dishing out Cleveland Cavalier hype like pink slips at AIG (that Game 1 loss to Orlando brought them down a peg or two). I'll contend that LeBron James is a once-in-a-lifetime talent, and is damn close to surpassing Kobe as the best player in the league, but in a team game, the guy has a weak supporting cast. Mo Williams is decent, but mainly he's just fortunate to play alongside LeBron, which makes his role much easier and look much more glamorous than it really is. From there, W-E-A-K. Like David Beckham's bicep weak. Yeah, they're a fun team to watch. True, they bulldozed the competition in the first two rounds. But a team capable of greatness, they are not.

As for the Lakers, they are a team on the verge of greatness ... if only they could sift through their apparent sense of lethargy and/or entitlement. Maybe they didn't get the mass text from Phil, but they qualified for the playoffs and are a popular pick to win it all. They're playing like these games are preseason throwaways. They play the prolific style of basketball that they're capable of until they get bored and just watch as teams come storming back. It's makes the average fan want to reach into their television and bitch-slap Ariza and Odom into waking from their asleep-on-their-feet state. The team is loaded with potential, and it's shown flashes of that greatness, but they've yet to do so consistently. That's where the great players are supposed to step up. That's where Michael would speak up in the huddle, look his guys in the eyes, and will them through the tough times. Kobe has yet to master the mind games.

We've got two great match-ups in the Conference Finals. But before the media crowns King James' Cavaliers as NBA champs, or predicts the awakening of the Lakers, let the games tell the tale. I realize it's their job to make assumptions and critique, but sometimes the bandwagon mentality just gets old.

For the record: I do foresee a Cavaliers/Lakers Final, and I think it'll take both teams 6 games in their current series to get there. From there, Lakers in 6.

1 comment:

Almond Surfboards & Designs said...

columbia was a good call. very well written and insightful piece.