I am not a sports analyst. Let me point that out first. I’m just a fan who has something to say. It was just another NBA season for some, but in it were stories. I am thrilled.
It’s over. The Golden State Warriors emerged victorious over Cleveland Cavaliers with an eight-point lead in the recently concluded 2015 NBA Finals. Golden State Warriors bagged their first championship title in forty years and denied King James of winning the Bill Russell trophy.
Along with nearly 20 million plus viewers, I screamed and held my breath in every shot attempt from both sides, I cursed at every missed from the Dubs, I cursed even more at every three-point shot by King James. Yes, I rooted for Dubs. But that doesn’t mean I hate Lebron James.
In Defense of King James
He was telling the truth when he said “I am the best player in the world” during a post-game conference. Everyone would agree, Cleveland Cavaliers was hit hard by injuries and was undermanned during the finals. Kevin Love was out first round of the play-offs then Kyrie Irving during Game 2 in the finals. Losing two All-Stars crippled the Cavs and dimmed their path to owning the ring. But Cavalier’s forward fought and he fought harder than he did in last seasons. His numbers will speak for him.
The King became the first player in NBA history to lead the Finals in all major stats with an average at least 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game according to Sports Illustrated. Call it desperation but he did outperform other players and even himself. LeBron dominated the series, says Hall of Famer Magic Johnson. He added “It was just truly greatness, and right infront of our eyes.” Read more of Johnson’s praises here.
Half of the court will cheer for you but still half will put you down. Good intentions do not always come across as they are. Not his fault if he needs to stand up for his team.
With King James in the Cavs, they were “all-in” even without the All-Stars Love and Irving. We should give credits to LeBron for inspiring and leading the underdogs in giving a very good and thrilling fight with the Warriors. I am with Mitch Lawrence in his opinion about the King deserving and fitting to be the MVP in the Finals, even in losing.
The King’s predicament is a reminder that even if you have your best foot forward all the time and no matter how much effort you give to something your heart so desires, we can still fail. But that’s a failure you can brush off if you think about how you fought, how you toughen up, how you changed a little, how you were able to develop new strategies, how you see things differently. These, aren’t they worth the fight? It’s not always what we can get out of but who can we become after, win or lose.
And yes, can you imagine a Game 5 if Curry were in Cavs and James were in Dubs?(Read More)
For the love of Stephen Curry
I didn’t mean harm with that last question. If I am one of the 11 media members who voted for the Finals MVP, I might still be tempted to vote for Dubnation’s 6’3 point guard just because no one did. Wait, what? Yes, no one voted for Stephen Curry.
We watched him played his game with excellence during the regular season. He finished off Western Conference Finals with a championship and an MVP award and admiration of fans who were “Curryed-away”. But his game was not as impressive in the Finals. The Dubs were puzzled where some of his three-point shots went when he missed 18 out of 23 shots that gave the Cavs a 95-93 win during game two. But did we learn from him?
“It didn’t feel right, but there is no time to really worry about that. You’ve got to keep shooting and try to figure it out,” he said. What he lacks in not being “aggressive enough, physical enough, just well, not LeBron enough” as Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports wrote, Curry made up for being a “brilliant ball-handler, a telepathic passer, a reliable defender” in the words of Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated. Basketball, like any sports, requires more than the physical power. It demands a great deal of thinking and mental strength. If a game plan doesn’t work, study it, make another, and try again. Focus.
Curry’s dedication to the team and to the role he was given was also a big key to unlocking the team’s door to the finals. He didn’t try to be everything all at once. Amazing how he scores while assisting teammates Klay Thompson and Draymond Green at the same time.
He is a team-player, not just because he plays in a team but because he plays with and for the team. When he was not himself during the finals, his team got his back. Clearly, our man trusts the game plan and believes on what the other team members can put in the game. Curry was the man Cavaliers wanted to stop and he was clearly the Warriors best in the finals and throughout the season. But he was also the reason why Igoudala, the Finals MVP, had many open shots. Strength in numbers. Together, they were able to do so much.
In fairness to Andre Igoudala
So, who is this guy who brought home the Finals MVP trophy without starting every game?
I haven’t heard much of him during the regular season. He is not in the starting lineup. He remained on the bench as reserve until the Warriors needed a small ball in Game 4 of the finals when he came off the bench. Igoudala finished the series with an average of 16.3 points, 4 assists, and 5.8 rebounds. Would you like to do the math and compare Iggy’s numbers with those of James and Curry? You don’t have to, it was clear that he was not big on numbers. But what made him Most Valuable Player?
A netizen tweeted “…it’s the spark he gave his team when he was put in the line-up. Series changer.” And maybe it was. In the words of their head coach Steve Kerr, Andre Igoudala “set the tone” for the whole season. “He saved this season for us,” Draymond Green said.
The 31-year old Olympian, All-Star, and a starter throughout his career accepted his bench role. He waited and watched until his time has come to defend the team. In NBA, where numbers matter, Iggy didn’t mind he won’t be able to raise his statistics, he just obeyed. James scored 36 points in the series when Igoudala was on the floor but it took James 196 shots to get all those points. When he was tasked to sit down and wait, he did. When he was called to get the Cavaliers, he did and he did it like no one else would. He was faithful to his mission. “For me, it was just playing my game. If you’re feeling it, shoot it. If you feel like you can make a play for somebody else, make a play for somebody else,” says Iggy.
There is really something going on while we are waiting on something. Warriors proved that. Being a reserve may look like “just sitting and waiting” for some but just trust that it is part of the game plan. Igoudala proved that. “We all say God has a way for you and a purpose for you, this is my purpose.”
If we are clear as to what role to play and that there is a purpose even though we do not know just yet, we have joy in waiting and when our moment comes, we shine. Andre Igoudala is the man!
They were giants in the field. One was out howling, his powers out in the open. The other one was trying to stay in tuned with a rhythm audible only to him. While the other one was atop a mountain, at a vantage point, he waited for his call.