First, there’s this clip:
One the one hand, I guess you can say that LeBron James really, REALLY wants to win a championship. But if you’re not a Heat fan, then your reaction was full of disgust, as the NBA did its best to remind you that for all the good that international basketball has done for the game, the Euros brought a soccer mindset that won’t go away.
LeFlop, and the subsequent walking-crying combo thereafter, made me long for the 1990s era more than ever before. The buildup for this series was not just about LeBron, Carmelo Anthony, and every other player involved. As Jeff Van Gundy took his courtside seat to help call the game, and as Alonzo Mourning watched from a couple of rows back, this series was supposed to be the continuation of one of the best rivalries that sports had to offer in the past 20 years. Charlie Ward. P.J. Brown. Larry Johnson. Pat Riley. Those slugfests gave basketball an edge that brought it closer to football than any other sport. Cue the Artest Melee, the Iverson era, etc., and the NBA started to push cleaner initiatives like NBA Cares and even instituted a dress code for the players.
But Cristiano Ronaldo’s effort on the basketball court this past Saturday was nothing compared to the emotions I felt approximately halfway through the third quarter:
Iman Shumpert doesn’t fill a box score quite like the way that fellow rookies Kyrie Irving and Ricky Rubio do. But I’ll say it again: there wasn’t a first-year player in the league that meant more to his team than Shumpert did this past season. As the Knicks started looking forward to Game 2 relatively early, New York City’s latest athletic wunderkind changed directions, his knee buckling and eventually giving way. I actually felt like crying.
I didn’t, because I’m awesome, but all of a sudden I started thinking about next season. The early word is that Iman will need 6-8 months to recover, putting his training camp, preseason, and the start of the 2012-13 regular season in jeopardy. And when he does come back, will he be the same?
Sorry, the extra spaces between paragraphs represents the time I took to walk to the bathroom and vomit.
Like many, I picked the Bockers to make it a truly interesting series, but nothing more. Without one of the game’s best on-ball defenders to stop Miami’s drive-and-kick attack, this could be over pretty soon.