And so we’ve come…to the ennnd of the roooad, still I can’t let go…
Nothing like Boyz II Men to say goodbye to “The Countdown” and hello to the new NBA season. It’s been quite an adventurous 10 (business) days. We’ve come through milestones and crippling illness and even an Internet war, yet here were are. We made it.
Tonight is the night! Matter of fact, just hours from now, we’ll all be reunited with the crew. Kenny, EJ, Sir Charles, Shaq and hopefully some guest spots from C-Webb, Reggie, Steve Kerr and of course, Craig Sager.
At some point during this upcoming season, we’ll be doing an even more in depth look at the boys over at The NBA on TNT[i] but for tonight, they are just part of the dressing.
Tonight is about NBA basketball returning.
Last night was full of last minute texts and frantic departures from social gatherings to finalize Fantasy Leagues and drafts. It was also the night that you and all of your friends wanted to make your sure your predictions for the season were heard. Last night was the night before Christmas for grown men and women and children alike. The NBA has always been the game that inspires the greatest possibility while also bringing its fans the closest to touching the dream.
There isn’t a fan who hasn’t counted down a final shot while tossing paper in a trashcan, who hasn’t pump-faked an invisible defender on the way to the bathroom or who hasn’t tried to replicate the move they just watched a moment before, so that they might be the first to show everyone, just how it was done. These are NBA fans.
You need to look no further than your local gym or park. See the kid making an awkward 3-finger salute after taking and making an illogical 3? How about the guy completely covered in shooting sleeves, leg warmers and head, arm and wristbands? Or my favorite, the kid wearing the jersey of his favorite player and attempting to play in the exact same way—we see you baby Dirk, we see you. These are NBA fans. But in those moments, they are just as much a part of an NBA game as the professionals themselves.
That’s the NBA. It’s a connection between the seemingly impossible, and through the smallest traits and tidbits of its players, the possibility that we too, can be like Mike, Kobe, Dirk, AI, LeBron, KD, DRose and a host of others[ii]. Since the end of the playoffs in June, that connection has been gone. Tonight, fans all over the world reconnect with those players who they root for, those they root against and those who inspire them.
“The Countdown” has come to an end[iii].
#1 LeBron. Over. Everything.
This will be the defining season of LeBron James’ NBA legacy.
He already has his championships, and no one will dispute that he is the best basketball player in the world. And as it turns out, he seems to be a pretty decent guy who’s maturing into a great husband, father and member of the Miami community[iv]. In so many ways, James is solid.
Which is why this season matters the most.
The Miami Heat did very little this offseason to improve their roster. Besides giving feel good projects like Michael “Spongebob” Beasley and Greg “The Dentist” Oden a chance at redemption, the Heat look the same as they did in June. But Ray Allen is older. Dwyane Wade is older. Rashard Lewis still can’t take PED’s and who knows if Shane Battier is actually a player or a professor at The U this season?
This season, one thing is clear, the Heat have leveraged the fact that James is the best player on the planet and is so, by such an unbelievable margin, that this year he can handle everything.
That would be a remarkable stance to take in a year when the NBA felt depleted. Only problem is, this year the NBA is far from it–its stacked. In the east, Indiana, Brooklyn, Chicago and (you’re welcome Frank) New York are all constructed to beat the Heat specifically. Add to that in the Western Conference, the Clippers, Thunder, Rockets and of course the old Texas stalwarts, the Spurs are all itching for their place atop the NBA mountain. Yet, the Heat stood still.
For all the talk, about how after this season, LeBron will be a free agent and “oh boy wouldn’t it be nice if he came back to Cleveland” or “what if he saved the Lakers?“ one thing is being overlooked: This season ‘LeBron the Savior’ will return. He’ll have to.
There was a time when he wasn’t ready. He was an overmatched kid with oversized shoulders expected to drag a failing city and an empty shell of a team to the NBA Promised Land. He failed.
He then chose to be amongst friends (and talent) and conquer the world, not alone, but with some back up. He succeeded.
But now he’s back to where it all started and perhaps where it will all end. If the Miami Heat and LeBron James are to win another championship this season, their 3rd in a row, it will be because of him, and him alone.
If he doesn’t succeed this time, much like when he wasn’t ready, it won’t be his fault. But it will be his legacy.
LeBron is playing for his place in history right now. If he succeeds, he will find himself the closest to the Almighty of Basketball[v]. If he fails, he will be remembered as the best all-around team basketball player. The man, who could do everything, yet couldn’t do it alone.
There will be no shame in that. He will always be a winner and a champion. And James still may finish his career with more titles than Jordan. But in the basketball world, he will never surpass him.
The greatest thing about basketball is that it’s a team game, which can be dominated by one person. In baseball, even the most dominate hitter only bats a handful of times and the pitcher can only prevent runs from scoring. In football the best quarterback in the world can’t score until his team gets him the ball and he’d have a hell of a time if no one decided to block. But in basketball, the same player can protect the rim on one end and rattle it on the other. The same player who steals a pass can then throw the perfect pass to an open shooter. The same player who takes charge of the offense, can just as easily swing the game by taking a charge on defense. It’s a game of many that can be controlled by one.
So once again, James will find himself as ‘The Chosen One’. His teammates will be who they are and who we know them to be. The only question is, will James be able to do it all…alone?
Yes, for the upcoming 2013-2014 NBA season, the most interesting storyline is simple:
LeBron. Over. Everything.
::::Thanks for reading “The Countdown”. Check back for regular NBA columns weekly::::
Want to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or favorite Buzzfeed lists, hit Scott at ScottC247@gmail.com
Scott Christopher is a comedian and writer based in Los Angeles. Follow him @ScottC47
[i] I consider them the true boys of Entourage. Though, shout out to that crew announcing that the movie is finally a “go”. I’d be lying if I said that watching that show didn’t help make Los Angeles feel like a real option and that the city itself seemed more manageable and full of possibilities because of it. Turns out Hollywood and the rest of the sprawling city of Los Angeles isn’t exactly like its portrayed on HBO shows about made up movie stars…but every once and a while, if you’ve visited or lived here long enough, you’ll have a moment where deep down you know you’re not cool enough or rich enough or well connected enough to be where you are at that moment and yet, it’ll feel like you’ve been there before…
…Those are Entourage moments. The show that presented what was possible, so that when you somehow found yourself in a massive mansion in the Hollywood Hills, surrounded by beautiful people, seemingly on accident, you didn’t freak out. You looked around and felt like, “yeah, I’ve done this before and I got this”, and then you silently raised your hands and whispered, “VICTORY!”
Looking forward to the film, fellas.
[ii] Example: I’m 29 years old as of last week. At some point this summer, I went down a YouTube rabbit hole of Hakeem Olajuwon training videos. The one that stuck out was a video of him teaching Kobe Bryant a spin move in the post. I spent the next 4 hours on a basketball court, learning the move. I haven’t played in a “real game” since my senior season in college. But come see me in any pick up game and I’ll tell you what, I’ve got one hell of a post up move. Thanks Hakeem. You’re the dream and I’m still living it.
[iii] So too has the beef with Buzzfeed. What can I do? People want to waste their valuable time reading lists with GIFs and memes about things that don’t matter…fine. Don’t come crying to me though when your elected official is “the worst” or when it comes to understanding your personal finances your response is, “I just can’t even”. We live in a time and place in the history of the human being as species where information is at its most accessible and sharable. Think of what we could do for the planet, for the human race, for each other…if we stopped for just a moment, comparing the difference between how we partied when we were in our 20’s to when we were in our 30’s.
Because if we don’t, the next generation will make their own version of Buzzfeed lists on some device that doesn’t exist yet and our generation will be known as the Greatest Generation of Regrets and Wasted Potential. I hope they use this clip when they describe me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-n3p6KSVcN8
[v] Michael. Jeffery. Jordan.