For the first time since 2010, the NBA Finals will not feature a team headlined by either LeBron James or Steph Curry, and it feels refreshing. Granted, this news will not be taken kindly by fans of these superstars as they are accustomed to seeing them play late in the season and elevating their status among the game’s greats. Fair. But the reality of the situation is that it’s time for something, or rather, someone new to shine.
Granted, the Brooklyn Nets have Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden on their roster, and that stacked trio may draw irate from fans of the game. However, it would be wise to recall that the franchise has never won a single NBA title in its history. Also, though they have Kawhi Leonard as part of their arsenal, the LA Clippers have never won a title either.
In fact, of the teams currently remaining in contention for the Larry O’Brien Trophy, only four of those teams had ever won a title, including the Atlanta Hawks when they won in 1958 while in St. Louis. It’s a level of parity that the NBA has needed for so long, and frankly, it’s an opportunity for the players who usually don’t get the spotlight to come out and showcase their skills.
Meanwhile, the stars who have dominated for so long are now doing what most of us are doing, watching the games from home. Sure, it doesn’t provide the sizzle or the intensity of the high stakes that networks tend to feed off, but are we more interested in television ratings or a new collection of stars getting their chance to shine? The latter, although you have a select group of individuals grounded in the former, is the more logical choice.
Though LeBron James and Steph Curry will watch the NBA Finals from home, it now gives everyone else a turn to make the most of an opportunity.
To be fair, the NBA is all about the stars. As a result, we rarely get a team like, say, the 2004 Detroit Pistons, where a collection of talented players come together and take down a behemoth. Though Ben Wallace will be heading to the Hall of Fame, much of that Pistons team was made up of underrated yet highly productive individuals.
In contrast, with how the NBA playoffs have shaped out to be this year, it’s a sight to behold that the next generation of superstars are getting their chance to make a statement. Granted, a potential Utah and Phoenix matchup won’t attract ratings like, say, a Lakers or Clippers matchup that has been clamored so desperately for, but Donovan Mitchell against Devin Booker? That’s must-see TV, to be quite honest. Ok, it’s not LeBron and Steph or LeBron vs. Kawhi, but come on, getting the same thing over and over gets really boring.
Those who favor constantly wanting the same matchups over and over again should take a break from the playoffs this year. Maybe it will come back to your liking next season. But, in the meantime, the rest of us will enjoy watching the new stars shine and maybe, just maybe, what we see this year will start a new trend in the future, a trend that gives the NBA the parity that they continuously speak about having, yet have never really proved it until now that is.