Remember back in the day when the NBA was physical, with actual hate stemming from some of the best rivalries we’ve seen? Now, instead of hard fouls and clotheslines, we have well-timed memes and petty clothing choices. Welcome to today’s NBA, where a jab on social media occurs more than a real one.
The Finals are proof that the talent level of today’s NBA is higher than we’ve ever seen before. These two teams featuring several big time players on both sides has to be one of the most star-filled feuds of all time, giving us a once-in-a-lifetime rivalry. What was glanced over due to the constant talk of superteams or LeBron needing an entire hand to count his Finals losses, is just how soft this rivalry – and the NBA as a whole – truly is.
These three straight Finals have given the Cavs and Warriors plenty of chances to hate each other. The only thing is, it isn’t the kind of Celtics/Lakers hate from the ’80s that you wish to see. It’s more like the kind of hate you hear in a high school playground when Sally stole Susie’s crush so each recess is filled with scornful act after scornful act. Today’s NBA has replaced physicality with pure pettiness.
Plenty of people believe LeBron started superteams. While that will be debated, there’s no denying he started this pettiness with his outfit at last year’s championship parade. Everybody was paying attention to JR Smith’s attempt to break the Guinness World Record for most days seen in public without a shirt on, but LeBron sneakily took a shot at Golden State by wearing an Ultimate Warrior shirt.
— Shawner (@ShawnKalina) June 1, 2017
Even though it’s a far cry from an actual fight, it still has the same format as one. If someone swings at you, you swing back. Except in this case, “swinging” doesn’t involve your fists. It involves customized t-shirts that call out the other team you just ran over in the championship.
Draymond: “I can’t forget the ‘Ultimate Warrior’ shirt from last year.” pic.twitter.com/GNKkabOre5
— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) June 15, 2017
Uh oh, everybody watch out. You know nothing hurts like someone wearing a shirt that might hurt your feelings.
In all fairness, these are clever jokes. Picking shirts that call out each team like this is actually pretty good. The problem is, this is as far as it goes. We used to see and hear stars in the NBA blatantly call out the teams they were playing, in less creative manners than this. The only thing is, they’d always settle it on the court. Now, this “feud” between LeBron and Draymond will only escalate to the point where Draymond will flail about like a fish out of water, “accidentally” hit LeBron, who will in return act like he was just flattened by the boulder from Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark. It’s just a perfect summation of what the NBA is really like.
The only difference is, since it will never actually come to blows, players have no problem firing back and forth at each other constantly.
Like I said above, these aren’t all bad. Just like you and the rest of the population, a well timed quick trigger joke is always appreciated. He could’ve incorporated the fact that Green sent a dick pic out last summer into this joke, but hey, the man can’t be great at everything. Draymond is a much more of a seasoned trash talker, so you know LeBron was sitting at home extremely nervous about this joke. The man was definitely sitting at home high fiving his wife and his two sons, LeBron James Jr. and Bryce Maximus after this one landed.
Then of course, Draymond clapped back twice.
Draymond Green takes a shot at LeBron and has his mic cut: ‘I never played on a superteam…You started the superteam, bro!’ pic.twitter.com/LLe6Xz9nWK
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) June 15, 2017
It’s funny if you break it down joke by joke, but if you take a step back and look at it, it’s so goddamn sad. It’s just a dick measuring contest between two grown men. Now instead of hard fouls we get somewhat clever jokes. If anyone actually made physical contact with one another it’ll be more dramatic than anything you’ve seen in theaters over the years.
Just think about the old school NBA. Rivalries like the Lakers and Celtics would actually come to blows on a regular basis:
If somebody got fouled that hard in today’s NBA, they’d get a suspension so fast even Roger Goodell would be impressed. Teams like the Bad Boys of Detroit would probably be kicked out of the NBA for games like this:
Bill Laimbeer would’ve been crucified like a witch in Salem if he hit LeBron like that. These players would throw full out haymakers at each other, and they wouldn’t even get kicked out of the game half the time. Now if you bump chests with another player, you get a tech instantly. The tight officiating is part of the blame, but players have taken it to a new level with their flops and over exaggerations.
The NBA needs to bring back the toughness of old. Adam Silver and the rest of the bigwigs in the NBA’s office need to sit down, grab a 36 of budweiser, and watch a couple of 30 for 30s to remember when the NBA wasn’t a league made for slap fights. I’m not saying let everyone fight like it’s the NHL, but at least let the boys go at it a little bit more so they don’t have to hide behind a keyboard their entire career.