It seems unlikely that the Indiana Pacers will return. The Miami Heat killed them last night, did they not? Their assassination came through the Heat’s indifference; Lance Stephenson’s attempts to enter LeBron James’ head were met with a shrug and more excellence. Roy Hibbert has had skill stolen by Nerdlucks once again, he’s a toppling structure surrounded by teeming pros. Any rhetorical effort made toward convincing ourselves the Heat weren’t this much of a shoo-in was clearly for naught.
How has the Eastern Conference gotten to this weak of a point? How can it be possible?
As a new, harsher generation of ownership takes the wings of NBA franchises, perhaps it won’t be this way for much longer. Fans of parity and reasonable Atlantic bedtimes should hope that trigger-happy fundmen like Robert Pera and Joe Lacob sell out their cupboards of talent and send their intelligent front-office men out for new contracts.
For the truly over-tuned-in fan, obsessed enough with the multitude of factors that distinguish wins from losses, an NBA following eventually turns out into Business Studies. What happens on the court becomes, over time, such a microcosm for what has happened off of it that communication structures become more interesting to us than spin moves. The Sportscenter of my mind features Pat Riley slowly, silently pouring Erik Spoelstra a glass of wine before the two of them say nothing and look at nothing while drinking it amidst a stress peak of the season.
The Sportscenter of my mind sees Tom Gores slam his hand to his desk when he realizes how much gusto he’s got to put into his pitch to Stan Van Gundy; a chessboard is no good without the proper schemer sitting at it.
We’ve seen Cleveland chocolate the bed over and over, and this is why we whack our heads against cinder blocks when they get their third crack at pick #1 in four years. Their cuff-link game has been in the Not Top Ten for years. Will they announce the mishandling of Joel Embiid’s career in Comic Sans, too?
LeBron’s basketball acumen cannot be properly appreciated without noting his hard-earned proclivity for proper infrastructure. An economist’s skill, James overlooked this perspective through his uber-youth but comes to us now as a seasoned expert of the market. This is why he won’t leave Miami, regardless of whether the avenging Spurs out-strategize and -execute them, and regardless of whether they can’t overcome the mercurial Oklahoma City Thunder’s oft-unstoppable frenzy.
Either way, most fans’ attention is likely to be more to the tickers telling us of player movement. Pre-destiny is a killer in the NBA, where change is mostly illusory—it’s the stuff of rumors, flying narratives trying to take hold of what happens behind the veil of Oz.
Dig deep enough into this sport you love, and the games become something like stilted theater. Both of the Heat’s last two titles are beautiful, balletic re-enactments of the war won in the summer of 2010. Whether or not that holds this fateful June, we know that the true battle will come in July.