Chasing Down The Latest NBA News
The above image was taken as LeBron James rapped on stage with LMFAO while the Miami Heat partied at Club Liv (same club the Dallas Mavericks went last year, for all you lovers of symmetry out there) celebrated their Game 5 series clincher of the NBA Finals. While reports of the exact lyrics James sang differ, I like to imagine it was possibly “Now that I’ve ascended the mountain, I find myself reflective in the steps I took to get there, and the steps I will take from here, and I wonder what will come next in my life now that this quest is finished.” Or maybe it was “Na-nee-na-nee-boo-boo, I gots me a ring you fools, Skip Bayless can stick his head in a deep fryer.” Of course, both of those lines have terrible rhyme schemes, and make for absolutely horrendous hip-hop. But they do make you think.
Whether you love it or hate it or wish it would go away, the question of when or if Lebron James would get his ring has been a main piece of the overall NBA narrative for virtually the entire time that he has been in the league. Everyone has made their points on it, changed their points on it, and overall beaten it absolutely to death over the years, and it has sort of become a familiar part of our lives, kind of like a nasty birthmark, or in-laws.
With that question finally answered, what do we talk about now?
Hit the jump for the rest of Jordan’s piece…
“Not Four, Not Five, Not Six, Not Seven…”
Sure, the Miami Heat have won their title, but we all know one measly title isn’t what Pat Riley had in mind when he (and the players themselves) helped assemble this team. This was supposed to be a dynasty, a thought that Lebron himself stupidly voiced before a single game was ever played, providing perfect bulletin board material for opposing teams and a silly soundbite for talking heads.
I’ve made no secret of the fact that I am a fan of the Heat and Lebron James, but even I realize that predicting eight-plus titles is of course the height of hubris. But with one title in their pocket now, the question begs to be asked. Just how many could this team possibly win?
After the game a question like that was posed to Miami’s Big Three, and Dwayne Wade smartly played it off, saying they would celebrate this one and see where the future would take them, while Lebron claimed winning the one was “the hardest thing he’d ever done.”
Next year, at least, the Heat look as if they could make another run through the East with Derrick Rose likely to be out for the majority of the season, the Celtics getting older (which has to become a problem eventually, right? RIGHT?), and Orlando in a state of flux. But none of that guarantees that whatever team comes out of the West won’t be up to the challenge. A revitalized Dallas team? A freshly point-guarded Lakers group? The Zombie Death Squad Spurs? Or maybe even a newly refocused Thunder, eager to prove that this series was a lot closer than the mere five games would suggest?
Nothing is written in stone, and sure, Miami is talented enough to win two or three titles. Four is probably stretching it. But you cannot overstate the focus, skill, and even sheer luck that winning a title requires. The reason dynasties are so heralded in sports is that one title is so difficult to obtain that multiple titles are unexpected.
Could Miami run the table the next few years? Sure. But dynasty is a heavy word to throw around before even two championships have been won.
So Who Is On The Clock Now?
While I would love to believe we all have better things to do than to harp on how poor player X has not won a title yet, but I strongly suspect that isn’t the case. Ringless players are and have always been a huge topic of discussion in any and every sport, and NBA basketball will not become an exception just because LeBron James won a title. So who are the next superstars who will have this burden placed upon their shoulders? I figure you have a few different sets of guys here.
You have the young guns who have yet to win. Derrick Rose is in this group, and is clearly a player that has the potential to win it all, but has been plagued by injuries and is potentially being asked to shoulder too much of the offensive load. Kevin Durant also falls into this category, and anyone who watched him cry after the Finals loss knows that he will internalize that pain, use it to get better, and likely relish his next chance by destroying anyone in front of him. Also an intriguing though is young Kyrie Irving in Cleveland, whose Rookie of the Year campaign has him looking like a player who could easily grow into someone who leads a championship team.
But what about guys who are a little older and already in their prime like Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard? Carmelo has been linked with James since a series of high school games between the two, and his New York Knicks alternately played like the best and worst team in the league in various stretches. If they can stay healthy and put it all together, they could challenge the Heat for the Eastern throne sooner rather than later. Howard finds his career up in the air, as it is thought that he will be moved before the beginning of next season, but if placed on the right team, it is clear that he could put a team over the top as the league’s best center and rim defender.
But the guy who I would really love to see win the Larry O’Brien trophy? Christopher Quantavious-Percy Paul. Paul’s otherworldly skills running the point have and time stuck with less than stacked Hornets teams have largely given him a pass on the ringless debate, but his trade to Los Angeles saw him revitalizing the Clippers and having them looking like a legitimate playoff team…right before running into the San Antonio Buzzsaw. With only one more year on his Clipper contract, Chris Paul will be a recurring storyline next season, and while the progression of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan will be key to Paul’s possible ascendance, it is, ahem, about damn time that league’s best point man proved his worth.
Whatever the league has in store for us next season, I’m sure it will find a way to make us all forget just how much fun this psychotic whirlwind of a season was, and to be honest, I’m sure we will all be thrilled to not have to hear the words basketball related income this postseason. But if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that the narrative may change at any time.
But the narrative will never die.
Jordan Akin also figures that with advances in science, and his high level of income, that he will never die. You are welcome to attempt to kill him (or at least his articles) on Twitter @jakin1013, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.