Everything is at stake right now in the NBA playoffs: pride, bragging rights, and a royal place in basketball history.
How will we remember Kevin Durant, as the guy who ran to play with Steph Curry to win NBA titles but has never won one without him?
What about Nikola Jokic? Sure he’s a two-time MVP but he has never taken his team to the NBA Finals and a title. He knows critics will keep bringing this up if he doesn’t win and that will irk the hell out of him.
MVPs are impressive, but great basketball players are ultimately measured by how many Larry O’Brien Trophies they win. Joker desperately needs one to shut up all the guys who think he’s overrated (they’re stupid by the way).
And fifty years from now how is history going to look back on LeBron James and Steph Curry? If Steph wins his fifth title this year, that puts him ahead of LeBron who has four. LeBron has scored the most points in NBA history but how can we say he’s truly better than Steph if Steph wins more NBA championships?
Then there’s Jimmy Butler. He’s on the verge of becoming one of the all-time greats if he can carry his Heat team to the NBA title. If he does, he’ll solidify his place in the league’s Hall of Fame. No one will ever forget Jimmy Buckets.
I don’t remember so much being on the line for so many NBA top players all at the same time. In these next few weeks, someone will emerge and win this whole thing, and that will elevate them into new stratospheres of basketball superstardom. This will drop the rest of the guys who don’t win down a notch on that basketball ladder, not being quite good enough, tarnishing their places in basketball history.
All are great, but one will rise to be the greatest this year, and we will think of that guy in loftier and more revered terms. In this season of ferocious competition to win the title, one of these guys will stand above the rest.
What’s clear to me is it’s going to be a furious battle to ascend to the top. These guys have huge egos and spend their lives practicing their crafts. They want to be remembered among the greatest players ever.
Basketball is, in the end, about guts. Playing the game makes your legs ache and feel like they’re aflame. Your chest gets pumping and heated, and it becomes harder to catch your breath. You don’t know how long you can go on, but you just do hoping the other guy quits, which almost never happens. This all wearies your mind.
You keep playing, keep hoping, and keep wondering. The other guy takes his shots. You take yours.
You hope your teammates come through. Everything is uncertain until the very end.
When that end occurs, one of these guys is going to be triumphant and glorified in a way I haven’t seen in basketball in a long time.
Sammy Sportface, a sports blogger, galvanizes, inspires, and amuses The Baby Boomer Brotherhood. And you can learn about his vision and join this group's Facebook page here:
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