The Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat are the NBA’s ultimate versions of a “hero” and a “villain.”
While both teams have talent and the concept of a “big three,” that is where the similarities end.
Oklahoma City is powered by a humble superstar in Kevin Durant and a cast of young players that play with passion. Miami is powered by a superstar that appears self-centered and a cast that Chicago’s Joakim Noah deemed “Hollywood as hell.”
Add in the fact that, on paper, both teams are about as evenly matched as you can draw up, and you have got one appealing series, which the Thunder now lead 1-0 after last night’s Game 1 victory.
People like to throw the conspiracy theory that the NBA is a fixed league and that David Stern holds all the cards. While that idea is just a convenient excuse for upset fans (yeah, Stern would really fix an industry that hundreds of groups of investors put billions of dollars into, which would result in a very, very long time in prison), make no mistake that this NBA Finals is exactly what the NBA wanted.
Sure, it would not mind if storied franchises like the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, or Boston Celtics were represented, but none of those teams present the same kind of appeal as the Thunder, who may come from a small market in OKC but who possess an “it” factor that other teams just don’t have. It’s almost as if when you sit down to watch OKC, it’s impossible to change the channel.
Above all though, what makes this NBA Finals so appealing is that the two best players in the game are facing off, which gives this the potential of being the most watched NBA Finals ever. No one really questions Durant’s status as a top two player, and no one should for LeBron either (sorry everyone, he’s top two). Again, the fact that they are so good, but yet so different, is almost a too-good-to-be-true type of scenario for the NBA Finals.
We’ve seen Finals similar to this before. There was the 2001 Finals, where the best player in the East (Allen Iverson) fell to the two best players out West (Shaq and Kobe). There was the ’97 and ’98 Finals with Jordan facing off with the tandem of Stockton and Malone. However, the storylines of those NBA Finals don’t stack up to 2012’s, and neither of those are as evenly matched on paper.
So, as White Sox broadcaster Ken “Hawk” Harrelson would say, “sit back, relax, and strap it down,” because we are in for one heck of a two weeks.