Another NBA season is in the books, and there was no shortage of drama and storylines that kept every basketball fan on their seats. Around this time, as the NBA Finals have finally come to a close, us fans are able to look back at a memorable season that has set Twitter ablaze a few times this past year. All the tension and the drama motivated by various stroylines of this past season makes me think of a parallel universe where the NBA is the WWE. This season had intense feuds, inspiring comebacks and epic showcases of greatness, and as a way to recap a year of hoops, I’ll be locking myself up in my dreamatorium and look back at this NBA season through the millions (and millions) of eyes of the WWE universe.
DX / OKC Break Up
I believe it’s only fitting that I start this recap with the infamous story that broke on the 4th of July, an event that had everyone in anticipation for the start of the season, to see two brothers go to war against each other. As soon as Kevin Durant announced his “new chapter” on the Player’s Tribune, the Brodie was left high and dry.
It was time for KD to start winning a ring, and it seems like the only way to do it was turn his back on the Brodie. Without even so much as a phone call, and after being up 3-1 in the Western Conference Finals, your comrade leaves to jump over the fence to join the very team you were just 1 game from beating to head to the Finals. That had to be as painful as the excruciatingly long wind up time to set up and hit a Pedigree.
Triple H turned his back on D Generation X, and straight up planted Shawn Michaels on to the mat signifying that he seriously intends to chase that gold, and thus effectively beginning a legendary feud between two close friends, and ending a superstar tandem. The KD-Russ feud is a perfect parallel of the Triple H-Shawn Michaels feud in terms of the level of talent involved, the jaw dropping betrayal and the incredible amount of hype fueled by the fans that continued to throw wood in the fire and proceeded to pour gallons and gallons kerosene through a bevy of twitter memes.
No one’s going to deny each superstar’s greatness but now we can only play “what if?” when reminiscing about these two superstars and openly wonder what would’ve happened if they remained together.
With the last one standing out of the original young Thunder core, Russell Westbrook went on a mission. In a league where super teams are the trend, Westbrook was the lone superstar on the Thunder, and THE man of Oklahoma City.
As soon as the season Westbrook hit the ground running, en route to a record breaking 42(!) triple doubles in a season surpassing Oscar Robertson’s old record from a lifetime ago. In a super team era, it was refreshing to see players like him put the team on his back and lead his teams through sheer grit and tenacity only the Brodie can play with. He wasn’t interested in making friends with anybody. You were either with him (on his team) or against him, and like the Tasmanian devil, he ran rampant through the league with reckless abandon, ala Stone Cold Steve Austin, WWE’s number one badass. There are a number of Stone Cold antics from his book of badassery you could choose from, but Westbrook’s season, to me, showed shades of Stone Cold driving a Zamboni into a WWE ring in Detroit and proceeded to charge the ring full of police, with the only intention of letting all hell loose upon “The Corporation”.
The season may not have ended in a title, but there’s no denying the greatness of Russell Westbrook. With all the noise about him being a selfish player that drove a superstar out of town and a player that only cared about getting his, Westbrook started and finished the season exemplifying incredible competitive spirit, all while telling everyone, “Why Not?”.
And (for now), that’s the bottom line, ’cause the Brodie said so.
Isaiah Thomas had one of the most inspiring postseason runs in recent memory, and I’ll be the last person on this planet to ever compliment a Celtic, but this man, former Mr. Irrelevant as the 60th pick of the 2011 draft, makes it extremely hard for a Laker fan to hate on him. I’m not going to shower praise on Isaiah Thomas, the Celtic, I’m praising Isaiah Thomas, the man. After the tragic loss of his sister in a fatal car crash, this man still showed up on the basketball court for Game 1 of the playoffs and dropped 33 points on the Bulls.
Although they lost that game, IT showed tremendous heart, and ultimately won the series. The resilience and toughness you saw from 5″9 guard no one ever knew would ascend to the status of an MVP caliber player and a big time scorer in a league of giants, Isaiah Thomas embodied the ultimate underdog, the same way the masked man of the 619 handled business in the squared circle despite his size.
People tend to judge others based on physical appearance, and both Thomas and Rey Mysterio are familiar with that type of scrutiny. Most people never thought guys like them would excel in their respective profession. Even the Lakers doubted Thomas, who made it clear that he wanted to play for the purple and gold, by deciding to pass on signing the talented point guard.
Though at first you might see each athlete as handicapped or disadvantaged in their respective field, there’s no doubt they make it work, and they’re rather good at what they do. Heck, Isaiah Thomas was so good in the series against the Bulls that he had their head coach Fred Hoiberg pointing out that the point guard “carries the ball” on every possession.
These past playoffs silenced a lot of critics, and while they may not entirely go away, Thomas has that 53 point performance in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Wizards to show his them. Like the Brodie, his journey may not have ended in a championship, but if anything, he showed that he does possess the heart of a champion. But as a Laker fan, I hope he keeps that heart of a champion, and leave the real championships to us.
Golden State NEXUS
I hate to say it, especially since I’m not talking about my team, but this looks to be the beginning of a dynasty. The Golden State Warriors have won 2 of the last 3 championships, and while they were impressive during their first title run, this past season they acquired an exceptional talent that could change the fortunes of any franchise, but in this case, they’re like the Juggernaut jacked up on adamantium, all because of one offseason acquisition:
In all seriousness, I don’t think I have ever seen any team dominate the league the way the Warriors have done. You could certainly argue that they’re “light years” ahead of any team. Seemingly out of nowhere, Golden State took the league by storm, the way the Nexus took to the ring unannounced, and swung for the biggest fish they could find in John Cena; the same way the Warriors knocked out the best player in the game: LeBron James.
The way the Nexus took rings apart and destroyed whichever target stood in their way parallels Golden State’s dominance of the NBA. And if that wasn’t enough, both “factions” added a superstar that made it even more difficult for the top dog.
Like CM Punk before him, Kevin Durant was the adamantium boost to the NBA’s Juggernaut, raising questions about who the “best in the world” truly is.
The Face That Runs The Place
LeBron James is undoubtedly the face of the NBA. As a high school phenom from Akron, Ohio, the league built him up and raised him as the face of one of the most profitable sports league in the world. There’s no questioning LeBron’s greatness, as he’s been the best player in the league for sometime now, but is it fair to question his teams’ greatness?
After suffering a season ending loss at the hands of the Warriors, James was posed a question by Basketball Insiders’ Eric Pincus about super teams, having been in super teams both in Miami and now currently in Cleveland, and whether or not he supports the formation of super teams having faced a stacked Warriors team.
LeBron James seems to be suffering from a bit of memory loss, because I seem to recall you predicting you would win “not 5, not 6, not 7…” rings with Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the crew. His refusal to acknowledge the fact that he played for a super team, in which by the way he was the architect of, seems to rival another person’s refusal to face the music.
LeBron James is John Cena.
John Cena, WWE’s own face of the company, unquestionably the lead guy that they meticulously built their business around for the past decade, has rolled out the same tired routine all these years the same way LeBron still takes exception to facts of him playing on/building super teams. Cena refuses to turn heel, and has totally embraced being the clean cut, top guy that represents the WWE, the same way LeBron refuses “turn heel” even for just a tiny bit and admit to being on stacked teams instead of washing his hands clean.
Ok, this may have been a reach with the “heel turn”, but in all honesty, both men have been great in their respective professions, and carried their responsibilities as the “face of the franchise”, whether it’s winning titles and championships, or through their philanthropy and charity work. With all that said, they’re now both legends in their own right and household names that have filled our living rooms for the past decade.
Draft Preview: LAVARSZN
Lavar Ball’s mic skills are second to none. His promo work thus far has been so captivating, that no matter how ridiculous it is, people listen and people react. Give this guy a mic and you’re guaranteed a soundbite, which is one of the biggest reasons the media always has time for a Lavar segment.
I’m 100% sure, if he’s employed by the WWE, he would be the absolute best manager in history. It doesn’t matter which wrestler you pair him up with, Lavar could sell Santino Marella vs. Doink the Clown as the main event of Wrestlemania. Yes, I’m saying Lavar Ball is basketball’s Paul Heyman.
Paul Heyman is a promo savant who’s instantly greeted by pops by the WWE universe as soon as he enters the arena. He consistently has the audience on the edge of their seats with the way he cuts a promo and hypes up a pay per view event or a marquee match-up. He knows how to get people’s attention and he does it by simply uttering words into a mic with unbridled passion and aggression. Heyman has been the mouthpiece of talented wrestlers over the years like Brock Lesnar, as he touts himself as “the advocate of the beast”.
With the draft days away, it’s sure to be a worldwide spectacle as to what Lavar Ball does during the event. Will my Lakers draft the hometown kid? What happens if their mission of getting Ball to LA fails? More importantly, what will the cameras capture when it turns to Lavar for a reaction after the 2nd pick has been selected?
Lavar Ball is more than a father at this point. He is an advocate; the advocate of young phenom Lonzo Ball and the rest of Big Baller Brand.
Whatever happens, it’s safe to say the elder Ball will continue to be the mouthpiece of Big Baller Brand, as he builds Lonzo’s brand and hype up the Ball name.
After June 22, the NBA will never be the same.