I’ve been traveling and never got this up. I know America has been waited with baited breath for how I interpret what happened in Miami. So, now that it’s a weekend later, and everyone’s moved on, here’s some quick thoughts and other news of the weird. (By the way, LeBron last year was totally right about people moving back to their miserable lives as soon as the series is done–3 days after the finals, and I’ve completely forgotten why I cared. It’s not that different than a bad reality show; ultimately, we get caught up in passionately rooting against the villain, but when it’s over, it’s just on to the next thing…)
Has LeBron James matured? Seems like it. He said all the right things, read a lot of books, and did the major post-series hugs with the right people. Those still unconvinced like the people at Deadspin and Paul Shirley aren’t providing a lot of actual evidence to the contrary. But we have no idea, right? Chris Broussard isn’t going to tell us–he’s the guy who told us that the Knicks all wanted a coaching change, when it’s implausible to believe that anyone on the team other than Carmelo wanted it. We heard all sorts of horrible things about LeBron in Cleveland, after he left Cleveland. We heard all sorts of terrible stuff about Jordan after he retired. It’s easy to tell that people didn’t like Barry Bonds in the clubhouse–so easy, that it probably wasn’t as true as it seemed. But it’s a lot harder with this one. The nice thing is that the journalists are starting to re-appear with the series over and with the need for provocative declarations done, so now we are starting to get the real stories about what actually happened.
Will the Thunder be stronger next year because they lost? I wonder on this one because they don’t seem to realize how much of the problem was defense and not playing hero ball. They may have another year of disappointment before they figure out, as LeBron seems to have, that you need to pass the ball out of a double team. (Did Scott Brooks ever counter Miami’s double-teaming the ball at the top of the key? It sure didn’t seem like it. And KD killed them twice in the second half being picked trying to dribble through triple teams.)
Do you have to lose before you win? In basketball, it sure seems to be the case. The Thunder appeared to be a basketball version of the Florida Marlins–a young, talented, and fearless team that beat the Yankees on sheer bravado. But then, suddenly, they were immature, not knowing how to set their own tempo, not knowing how to handle the Heat’s inevitable runs, not knowing how to handle the final possessions of the game. The Heat did all the old man things–flopped, fouled, frustrated, slowed the game down, and generally left the Thunder muttering to themselves.
Other things now that the season is over…my favorite head case is Tim Lincecum. He’s not just dealing with a rough season, he’s coming to terms with his own mortality. R.A. Dickey is on an amazing run, looking to match Tim Wakefield’s 14-1 start in 1995. And it’s interesting that ESPN last night focused entirely on his ability to throw the knuckle ball, but not on his personal battles with sexual abuse as a child, particularly given the earlier events of the weekend down in not so Happy Valley.
Congrats to Ashton Eaton.
And congrats to the city of Portland for having arguably some of the best professional sports fans anywhere in the U.S. Their display on behalf of the Timbers yesterday was inspiring. That’s what sports are all about, and it points to a real future for MLS. Every soccer league needs a West Ham, and Portland is it. Is there another set of professional sports fans that can be that effusive for a team that is neither any good, nor has any star players? Thinking…thinking…thinking…. Is this just hipsters gone wild? Of course, Chris Ryan was on this a year ago.
Final news of the weird. I don’t know what happened at W.i.P. the other week, but if Tony Parker goes blind in one eye as a result, he better sue the club, or Drake, or whomever was responsible, for more than $20 million.