The 2012 NBA Finals is giving us dominating performances by some of the league’s biggest stars (LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade), while players have stepped up (Shane Battier and Nick Collison), and players haven’t fully graced the biggest stage in professional sports (James Harden, Mario Chalmers and for long stretches Chris Bosh).
This means the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder are providing what the basketball world wants to see, an entertaining NBA Finals.
However, for the casual fan or an outsider who only reads headlines, what is an NBA Finals without some drama? Boring would be the answer if this question was asked to anyone in my family not named Brandon.
Have no fear, the Heat and the Thunder are here to save the day since James, Wade, Durant and Serge Ibaka have taken up the game of talking smack.
Wade said the first few words when he said Durant would be a bigger star outside of OKC. This wasn’t really a shot to Durant, Wade was merely speaking the truth. If Durant was in Chicago or Los Angeles — the two cities Wade listed in his quote on Ball Don’t Lie by Eric Freeman — he would be a megastar and would be ranked among the highest jersey sellers and would have a huge shoe deal such as Kobe Bryant or Derrick Rose.
On the other hand, Durant has proven to be a man of supreme integrity. Instead of showcasing his contract decision on ESPN, aka James’ “Decision”, he merely tweeted he was resigning with OKC. This shows me he is dedicated to making the Thunder a well known and respected team. To discount his franchise such as Wade did probably rubbed Durant the wrong way.
Durant answered in Game 2 when he called Wade small.
Yes, Wade is seven inches shorter than Durant but there is nothing small about his game when we’re talking about his performances in Game 2 and Game 3.
The defensive switch that led Wade to Durant only happened once, but if it happened again I think Wade could hold his own. No one in the league can stop Durant, so to say “you’re too small” because of one jump shot over him is a little ridiculous. I’m guessing it was a play on words since Wade called his franchise/city/team small. Instead of calling out Miami, he just stuck with Wade.
To me, the Wade and Durant scenario is just competitive banter. The NBA Finals a sporting event in which only one team can win the very NBA Championship 30 teams set out to do. Tempers and egos flare, it’s expected.
However, what Ibaka said is flat out crazy and could very well turn the monster James has been in the finals into an absolute Zeus-like figure that can’t be stopped.
After Game 3, Ibaka tried to defend Durant’s late game struggles and derail the credit from the Heat’s superstar by saying James isn’t a good defender. I don’t know what league Ibaka is playing in but it isn’t the same as James if he honestly thinks this.
“LeBron is not a good defender,”
“He can play defense for two to three minutes but not 48 minutes.” [...]
“LeBron can’t play (Durant) one-on-one,” Ibaka said. “They’re playing good defense like a team.”
The only thing Ibaka correctly said was the Heat are playing good team defense. To his dismay, it has a lot to do with James’ physical attributes and his ability to make big stops when they’re needed.
I usually think everyone has the right to say what they feel; this right is the First Amendment in the Declaration of Independence. But let’s not kid ourselves, Ibaka is a little more than batty for calling James an average or below average defender. We’ve all seen the James’ defensive highlight reels.
James accurately answered Ibaka by saying he was stupid and no one should listen to his comments.
“I don’t really care what he says, he’s stupid,” James was quoted as saying on ESPN. “Everyone says something to me every series, then (the media) tries to get a quote. It’s stupid.”
He probably will never win a Defensive Player of the Year Award, but he is one of the best on ball defenders in the league. He doesn’t need blocks or steals to make a dramatic impact such as Ibaka. If Ibaka isn’t blocking shots he is almost null and void from the finals.
I wonder what Durant is thinking now since James guards him. Will James take Ibaka’s statements out on him? I want to see great basketball on both sides of the court, so I can only hope James and Ibaka are heated and want to prove what they can do.
The game on the floor has been outstanding, we can only hoop the verbal chip shots continue to add entertainment to the 2012 NBA Finals.