In last year's movie "Rocky Balboa," the fictional fight between the octogenarian Rocky and the lean, young Mason Dixon was billed as "Skill vs. Will." In that spirit, I shall give these finals it's own nickname - "The Roar vs. the Bore."The Roar:
Let's face it - LeBron James just looks like a more refined physical specimen out there. He's the best athlete in the league right now. Highlights of his Game 5 performance
against the Pistons show that even when the referees put away their whistles and allowed LeBron to be fouled multiple times on individual plays, it didn't matter. LeBron was stronger and faster and more determined. And even when there were two or three defenders hovering around him at any given time, it didn't matter. LeBron was stroking jumpers and threes with Larry-MJ-lovechild accuracy. And he's making it look easy. Some may argue that the Pistons' defense played weak, but the Pistons' D wasn't weak; LeBron made it look
weak with superior skill. Watch his defenders - they are good athletes trying damn hard to keep up with him, and he's blowing past them. LeBron is simply on a different level right now.The Bore:
Tim Duncan is everything that is right AND wrong about pro basketball.What is right:
Duncan is the most fundamentally sound player in the league and (Bill Walton superlatives aside) may the best ever at just quietly and methodically killing his opponents. His greatness is in his consistent excellence and his ability to get his shot. Rarely will you see him off-balance or fading away. He finds his spot, takes his time, and hits that 8-footer off the glass often regardless of the defense playing him. He is frightening - not a Hannibal-Lecter-eat-your-face way, but in a bubonic-plague-that-will-slowly-but-inevitably-kill-you way.What is wrong:
The way I feel - and the way every fan outside San Antonio - feels about Tim Duncan. This guy is going for his fourth NBA title. Even as the parts around him have changed, he has been there, winning and winning and winning. Watching him play should give me chills. But I don't get chills. And yet, I would be the first person to get on my high horse and say, "We need to stop worshipping these high-flying, selfish, hyperathletic players and worship those who play the game soundly - like Tim Duncan." Still, TD doesn't excite me. He should, but he doesn't.The Prediction:
The Spurs' team game should prevail - and easily. The Spurs should win another championship. But if somehow the Cavs win this series, make no mistake, LeBron will have given us the greatest NBA post-season performance ever. Forget about Larry and Magic and Michael. For various championships, Larry had McHale and Parish, Magic had Kareem and Worthy, And Michael had Pippen, Grant, Rodman, etc. If the Cavs win, LeBron will win it. He will score. He will distribute. It's all on his shoulders. Sure, he needs his role players, and he needs the other guys to "do what they do," but this is his team. He is The Man.The Preference:
Seeing as the Spurs have become the Bad Boys lately (the infamous Bowen foot defense, the ubiquitous Tim Duncan "I'm Tim Duncan, call a foul!" facial expression), I'd love to see the Cavs take this thing. Anyone else sick of the Spurs? Show of hands....thought so.
My selection of individual over team goes against all of my most firmly held beliefs. But hey, LeBron isn't Kobe - he plays the team game more consistently, and says all the right things (Hell, he has the basketball intellect and overall maturity of a 40-year-old), so I can feel like less of a tool by cheering him on.
But even as I'm getting excited every time LeBron touches the ball, I'll be inwardly wondering how it came to be that Tim Duncan's greatness seems to have been swept under the table (aside from the "We really don't appreciate Tim Duncan like we should" statements that have become all the rage with commentators).
If you feel a cough coming on, LeBron, be careful...it could be the plague...
Labels: bore, Cleveland Cavaliers, Lebron James, roar, San Antonio Spurs, Tim Duncan