The Finals are broken – and we shouldn’t even care. All season long, the narrative throughout the NBA has been the question of parity (or the lack thereof) currently affecting the league. We all knew that, come June, the Super-Team would be taking on the greatest player of all time*. And as a result of this manifestation of destiny, NBA Twitter is amok with negativity having quickly forgotten an incredible regular season of individual and team achievements.
To say that the Finals have been boring thus far, would be inaccurate and borderline slanderous. Yes, I accept without question that games one and two were both significant blow-outs. Certainly, these were not the results that any neutral (let alone Cleveland) fans would have wanted. And despite game three being a much closer affair (we finally got to see them respond to be being down in dying moments of a game and, at last, a close game), we’ve not seen anything (yet) that, even in the thrill of the moment, led anyone to make such audacious claims as “this game is going down in history as one of the greatest ever”. But, each game has been littered with more highlight plays than we could have ever asked for. For those who believe that the Warriors are bad for the game, I respectfully question your sanity – watching these guys play is a blessing. This is as close to perfection as team basketball gets. The Dubs’ body of work over the past three seasons has them on the precipice of cementing their status as the greatest team of all-time. And I say that not without serious consideration and reluctance (having grown up adoring the 90’s Bulls, envying the 00’s Lakers and reluctantly respecting the 10’s Heat). If Kevin Durant‘s decision had been different, would this team be as good? Of course not. But to suggest he has single-handedly ruined the league is preposterous.
He, and the Warriors, simply took advantage of the rules set out and agreed upon by franchise owners and the NBPA. True parity will never exist. “Unfair” advantages can be found in all situations. They always have been in the NBA. This is the 71st NBA Finals (well, that’s including three years of the BAA from 1946/47 to 1948/49). Which seems a significant enough sample size, wouldn’t you agree? Of those potential 71 winners, there have been just 19 franchises who have ascended the throne. That’s 18 (the original Baltimore Bullets are not linked to the current Washington Wizards) of the 30 current franchises, and one (the aforementioned Bullets) of the 15 teams that have previously folded, having competed in at least one season. Simply put, that’s 19 of 45. Of those 71 titles, 33 (ironic total considering the franchises involved, and that number’s meaning to both) have been taken by the Boston Celtics (17) or Los Angeles Lakers (16). Leaving 38 titles to the remaining 17 Franchises. Trailing the Celtics and Lakers, are the Bulls (6), Spurs (5), Warriors (4**), Nationals/76ers, Pistons & Heat (3 each) and Knicks, Rockets & Hawks (2 each). The remaining 9 champions have claimed just one title each throughout their respective tenures in the league. 19 of 45… that’s 42% of all competitors ever, winning across 71 years. And two franchises account for 46% of all of those titles.
|NBA Titles||Boston Celtics||Los Angeles Lakers||Everybody else|
Parity is like Democracy. It’s an ideology. A principle that is striven for, but one that will never truly be achieved. Perhaps the negativity towards the current state of play is simply jealousy. Fan-bases scorned by a decision to side with an enemy, rather than their own chosen franchise. Another hurdle for their team to overcome in the improbable quest to challenge for a ring. Perhaps the negativity reported is just more “fake news”, the truth doesn’t meet a particular agenda, so an “alternative truth” is created. Certainly, judging by the figures I’ve seen, the NBA product is flourishing. And that’s not including my own eye-test. The NBA Finals’ ratings are the highest they have been (through games 1 and 2 at least) since MJ’s last (Bulls/meaningful) games in 1998. An average of 19.6 million viewers. As Durant said “If you don’t like it, don’t watch it”. But people are watching, ergo they must be liking. Are they all tuning in in the hope that the Warriors fail? Who knows. Everyone loves an underdog and everyone (apparently) hates another’s success. Yes, the Finals were the Warriors to lose before going up 3-0. Yes, even if victorious, KD’s status as a champion will be scrutinised somewhere. Yes, LeBron’s position in the Greatest of All-Time conversation will he picked apart if he’s unable to do the improbable/impossible and drag his team to victory (again). And, yes, none of it matters. Sit back and enjoy witnessing greatness in many varieties. The moment the final slither of confetti settles on the hardwood, the camera cuts to credits and the champagne turns from symbol of celebration to sticky stain on a jersey, you know you’re going to be counting down the days until it all starts again. *dependent on who you ask ** for now
Our Mike Miller is not the Mike Miller picked 5th overall by the Orlando Magic in the 2000 NBA Draft. He is in fact one of our podcast hosts and a Lead Writer. He loves beards, begrudgingly respects James Harden, writes a weekly NBA column for GiveMeSport and contributes to Sporting News (FIBA). He’s also represented us as an analyst on Sky Sports, BBC Radio 5 Live, ESPN’s Head in the Game podcast and Love Sport Radio.