If you’ve been living under a rock, or just don’t like basketball, then you’ve probably been blissfully unaware of what’s going on in the NBA right now: the playoffs! Four teams remain in the race for the chance to play for the title in June. Four teams, only 2 of which the NBA wants to see competing for that chance.
Right now the race is tight between Cleveland and Orlando, and Denver and LA. Each of these four teams has its own star (though only 2 would be considered super-stars), and their respective supporting casts. But the issue at hand isn’t who is actually ahead in their series, its who the NBA wants or needs to win those series. Its got 3 mid-size market teams and one big city team in the hunt, but the key is the battle between the two super-stars: Kobe Bryant and Lebron James.
For years the discussion has been who will be the heir apparent to the Michael Jordan throne, who will be the next superstar. For years it was clearly Kobe, then Lebron came into the league 5 years ago and the discussion shifted to which of the two would emerge as the top player. Both players sporting their ridiculous shoe and drink endorsement deals, pulling down league maximum salaries, and selling merchandise worldwide like you wouldn’t believe. So now the league NEEDS these two to be in the finals against each other. This is the ultimate battle to see who will emerge as the most dominant, most clutch, sickest player of our generation.
Corporations need this too. Nike and Coca-cola both have a lot of money behind these two guys and have already started heavily promoting them in anticipation of the finals. All these companies are relying on this four horse race really being a two horse race. If neither Cleveland nor LA make it to the finals, the NBA will undoubtedly be worried that their Finals stars aren’t really the key pitchsters they wanted. Both of whom carry different types of baggage (Carmelo having the gun arrests and Dwight Howard having his family issues too), and neither of whom is really a national name the way Kobe or Lebron do.
So what’s the solution for the NBA? Hire a witch doctor to curse the magic and the nuggests? I dunno really. Let’s just hope the games keep being as exciting as they have been.