Hollywood’s summer blockbuster season is under way. Filled with sequels and reboots, laced with marquee names and compelling plotlines, it is sure to entertain. This last weekend kicked off in a big way with Avengers: Age of Ultron.
The NBA, like Hollywood, is in the midst of its own blockbuster season – the playoffs. Two months of games featuring the league’s best teams in a battle for the title. There are no sequels. The only returning team from last year’s title game is the San Antonio Spurs. There are no marquee teams. In fact only one of the remaining eight teams, Cleveland, has appeared in an NBA Finals in the last 15 years. Another fact – only three of the teams have won titles in the last 40 years.
Compelling plotlines? I’m not really finding any.
Yet the NBA is offering entertainment value.
Golden State, boasting the best record in the NBA is attempting its first appearance in the NBA Finals since 1975. Meanwhile, in the East, the Washington Wizards (Bullets in ’75) are on a similar journey, although the Bullets did play in two more Finals before the end of the decade, winning one in ’78.
The Warriors vs the Wizards, isn’t the NBA’s marquee matchup. Then again, of the final eight teams still alive in the second round, none really shout Hulk-like numbers for television ratings. There isn’t a compelling story for the casual NBA fan. But for the avid fan there is plenty of reason to enjoy basketball right now. Every series is tied 1-1 with the road teams holding the advantage in the home-court battle.
In January, I spoke of “parity” in the NBA. Many have cried for more even competition. Just a short eight years ago, angst began to build across NBA fandom as “super-teams” became a hot topic. The “Big Three” in Boston, LeBron joining Dwyane Wade, stars flocking to major markets leaving ghost towns in their wake.
This year, there isn’t a super-team. There isn’t a “big three” or teams laden with star-studded talent.
While the competition isn’t necessarily even, there are new faces at the top of the NBA. The Warriors are the team that tore through the regular season schedule. They own the best record, and their championship destiny, the overwhelming pick to win it all.
However, as the beginning of the second round has shown, nothing is set in stone yet.
Enjoy it while it lasts. With new television deals looming and a salary cap that will skyrocket to unheard of heights, this year might be an anomaly when all is said and done.
No, really, enjoy it. This year’s blockbuster isn’t about the big names and marquee matchups. It’s pure, unequivocally entertaining basketball. From sharp shooting three point specialists to stingy defenses, there are story lines that are worth watching.
When the season began, I said LeBron and the Cavaliers would likely win the title. That was before Steph Curry and the Warriors dominated the NBA season. When I began writing this, I leaned toward a Warriors vs Wizards Finals matchup. Now, I lean more towards Golden State vs Cleveland, but if Chris Paul gets healthy, I’ll take the Clippers in the West and pit them against the grinding, blue-collar Bulls. Wait, no, maybe the Houston Rockets vs Atlanta Hawks. What about the Grizzlies vs Washington?
I’m not going to Las Vegas or Wendover with any of these. No. Instead, I choose to sit back and watch this summer’s blockbuster play out.
Entertain me NBA. Feed my frenzy.