The NBA Playoffs don’t take forever. It just feels like they do. Truth be told, there have been some halfway decent basketball played. Problem is, it’s almost all been in the Western Conference where teams get out and run the ball instead of grinding it out in the half court and lockdown defense.
Between the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat, I can’t guess which team David Stern would like less handing over the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy to. It’s a choice between his nemesis among team owners, Mark Cuban, or the most despised team in the NBA, the Miami Heat, led by two superstars in LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and an occasional one in Chris Bosh.
These may not be the two best teams in the NBA, but they’re the only two who made it all the way. Sorry for all you Celtics, Lakers, Magic and Spurs fans. Now it’s just a matter of who gets to hoist the championship banner when it’s over.
If I were a betting man I’d put it on the Heat. The Mavericks have the talent to get the job done, but LeBron is on a mission. He’s not going to let Dirk Nowitzki stand between him and the chance to finally shake off the rap that’s dogged him for eight seasons now: LeBron is the greatest player since Michael Jordan, but Jordan won six. Lebron hasn’t won anything.
That’s all going to change within a week or so.. Sure, D-Wade and Bosh want to win a championship too and Nowitzki would like to shake that “soft” label he’s been saddled with once and for all, but nobody wants this like Lebron. He needs this is a way they don’t.
Despite Jordan’s former caddy, Scottie Pippen having a senior moment and saying LeBron is greater than M.J. nobody will ever take that assessment seriously until James starts putting together a string of championships like Jordan did. It’s possible he could, but it’s just as possible some other team like the Knicks or the Lakers will bring in a Dwight Howard or a Chris Paul and upset the balance of power all over again. The Heat have demonstrated you can put together an instant contender with three stars in their prime and a bunch of role players along for the ride.
The Mavericks are the last obstacle standing between LeBron’s long-awaited glory and they aren’t going to have enough to stop him from getting it. The Heat take in it six games. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Lebron put the rest of the team on his back and tried to sweep the Mavs even if he personally has to play one-on-five to do it.
LeBron and the Heat know they’re the bad guys here and more people want them to lose than to win. They know everybody hates them and it hasn’t killed them. It just made them stronger. They feed off of it. That hate will give them the motivation that’s going to lead them to the title.
You can’t stop an idea whose time has come and it’s Lebron James time.