Non-Mainstream NBA Storyline Preview

Posted: June 12, 2012 in ALL II
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Contrary to popular media opinion the 2012 NBA Finals is more than a battle between good and evil Kevin Durant and Lebron James.  In a star driven sport popularized and polarized between Lebron and anti-Lebron, one can understand the fascination with seeing the greatest basketball player on Earth and the second greatest player in the league.  The Editor-In-Chief addressed the gap between the two stars so I will address the other storylines that should get some attention over the next 4,5,6, or 7 games (if necessary).

Derek Fisher – Still Fighting

Fisher finished off the Spurs by hitting clutch shots to extend a perilous lead to reach another NBA Finals last week.  This is the same embattled Fisher that could not get it done with the Lakers as the 16 seasons finally caught up to him.  Oh the joy of seeing Fisher be a genuine part of the Thunder who knocked off the Lakers and appears as a favorite to pass Kobe Bryant for championship rings.  Yes, it helps that the guy the Lakers were worried about covering (Russell Westbrook) is now your teammate but that doesn’t change Fisher’s desire and will to make big plays when it matters.  Oh and let’s not forget the bigger Eff-You going to Billy Hunter, the Executive Director of the NBA Players Association.  Hunter tried to force Fisher to resign his position as President of the aforementioned association when Fisher suspected foul monetary play – which he (I think) is right about in totality.  Sticking it to the team that cut you is one thing but showing up on the largest stage when someone tried to ruin your name is another thing all together.  Definitely rooting for him to win a title and shove it in Hunter’s face in his soon to be raided corrupt office.

Mario Chalmers – Finals MVP

Not my Finals MVP but he will need to be there for the Heat to win.  Chalmers should be assigned the toughest role in defending Westbrook but the third year man out of Kansas is entering the Finals with the best playoff series of his career and not actually assigned to Russ.  All signs point to some double teaming of Wade or James which means Chalmers needs to step up as a leader of the non-big three.  Conversely, Chalmers cannot slow down the pace when in the open court, something he regretted after a Lebron James cursing out for three minutes.  The Heat WILL lose if their Big Three are the only ones scoring late in games.  Chalmers will need to be the guy to set the table but also take shots with confidence.

Russell Westbrook – Pressure Cooker

Lebron and the Heat have the most pressure on them to win but if they do all of the blame will fall at the feet of Russell Westbrook, a phenomenon that is not new.  When Westbrook carried the Thunder earlier in the playoffs no one cared because the world collectively fought to pay compliments to Durant’s greatness.  When the Thunder loss, Westbrook needed to change.  Too selfish.  Too immature.  He is under immense pressure to be himself but feed the super-duper star.  He can handle it.  Westbrook answered many questions about his decision making and shooting this season, his best of his young career.

Chris Bosh – Equalizer

Bosh was the second best player for the Heat in each playoff series last year.  His absence this year cost the Heat (possibly?) with more games played, energy expended, and more pressure on the team as a whole.  Bosh plays and the Heat win.  The record speaks for itself.  Bosh’s health is critical but a healthy Bosh effectively spreads the defense, moving Ibaka or Perkins out to help James or Wade get to the lane and finish at the basket.  Grantland’s Robert Mays goes into detail about Bosh’s value summed up as: “Using Bosh as a screener/3-point threat (an idea for which Heat coach Erik Spoelstra doesn’t seem to be getting enough credit) opened up the rest of the Miami offense in a way that it had struggled to against the Celtics. When the Heat went small with Bosh at the five and sitting in the corner, it prevented Kevin Garnett from playing the normal defensive center field that he’d been allowed to play all series…Oklahoma City has more lineup [but] the Thunder will likely be forced to go small as well. That leaves Serge Ibaka as the lone post defender, and if Bosh can consistently put together what he did in Game 7, it may leave none at all.”

Big Three Philosophy

Personally, the “Big Three” needs to be added to sports platitudes/saying that have no genuine meaning.  I believe a Big Three need to all be starters like the original, modern big three of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce.  Miami has a big three.  Oklahoma City has three great players but a big two.  Which big three wins out may revitalize or end this argument as many point to the Spurs who never had a big three with Duncan-Parker + Ginobili until “Big Three” became as popular as drinking games associated with Mad Men.

Dwyane Wade – The Magician

He disappears for halves at a time.  Comes up when it matters most (last eight minutes) which excuses the pressure put on his teammates to keep the Heat in contention for 38 minutes.  His play may be excused to injury, but I don’t think Lebron will get that pass (see “phantom” elbow injury).  Step up or prepare to incur the rather of not being there for Lebron.

So those are a few things I will keep an eye out for but allow me to give my two cents on the biggest star with the most to lose.  Do you remember when people felt the utmost disgust for Michael Vick and dogfighting?  Remember when people hated him and felt that he did one of the worst things ever?  Remember when people could not believe that he went to jail while other crimes go unpunished kicking off a silly debate over prosecuting some things versus others?  What I remember most is the emphasis of doing the time for the crime and getting a second chance.  Most hatred for Lebron James can be summarized by “The Decision” and the subsequent pre-success party with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.  No crime.  No death.  Just the most talented player in the world, a guy blessed with everything in his mid-twenties, being arrogant and making a bad decision.  To date he has apologized numerous times, still helps out the community (in Akron and Miami), gives his all every single night leading to the tune of a finals appearance, MVP, and another finals appearance.  And we as a society continue to hate him for a mistake that, honestly, a blip on the radar.  As much as I love Russell Westbrook, I hope the Heat win and we can hopefully end this absurd disdain of a marvelous player.  But with rating projected to be through the roof, I hope America doesn’t back down in the clutch to giving Lebron James a second chance as the hate is blocking a very simple fact: America is underappreciating one of the greatest players to ever walk on to a basketball court.

Heat in Six.



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