The 2017 NBA Finals, Told Through 8 Moments
The best parts about the NBA are the abundance of moments that transcend a particular time and space, taking over the cultural zeitgeist. This year, these are those moments.
More times than not, the one thing we clearly remember about any NBA Finals is the team that won. In the grand scheme of NBA history, this will be the Finals we remember as the one that validated Kevin Durant’s controversial decision, and, perhaps, the first of the Curry-Durant Warriors dynasty.
However, as longtime NBA fans will admit, some of the best parts about the NBA are the moments that transcend a particular game, time, and space, and take over the cultural zeitgeist. This year, these are those moments:
“The Love Triangle”
Leading up to the NBA Finals, the playoffs were a dud. After one half of exciting basketball, Game 1 ended up following suit, but it would’ve been much worse if not for the one and only: Rihanna. Her arrival, near the end of the first quarter, compelled Jeff Van Gundy to disregard the dunk LeBron just threw down, and in the 4th, Rihanna — being a noted fan of the man they call “King James” — bowed in LeBron’s presence.
Later in the game, Kevin Durant — who has admitted he’d bite Rihanna’s butt cheek and would marry her if he could, in separate tweets — drained a 3 right in front of Rihanna to, essentially, ice the game, then visibly turned around to glance at her. People are calling it a “staredown”, but as any guy who’s played basketball in the presence of girls can attest to, it was probably a “you’re cheering for the wrong boy” look.
Heat-Spurs, 2013, Game 6. What shot enters your mind? Without a doubt it’s Ray Allen’s incredible 3-pointer off of a Chris Bosh offensive rebound. The one that halted the Spurs’ celebration being prepared behind him, the one that forced an unexpected Game 7, and the one that devastated the Spurs. Kevin Durant’s pull-up 3 over LeBron — with less than 60 seconds remaining in Game 3 and the Warriors down 2 — is not that big of a shot, but it will be the singular play we remember these Finals by. It didn’t win the series, but it swung the game and put his team one win away from hoisting the trophy.
“That Weird Game 4”
Game 4 was weird. In more ways than one. There was the controversial situation surrounding Draymond’s non-suspension (an inverse of last year’s Draymond suspension controversy) that further highlighted a poorly-officiated game, Jeff Van Gundy (who’s podcast doesn’t exist, but I would pay for) commenting on Tristan Thompson and the Kardashian Curse, a fan getting ejected after getting into it with Matt Barnes, courtside D-Wade with red hair, and my personal favorite: Dahntay Jones getting a technical foul from the bench, reducing his total salary this season to $127. Not a typo.
Decades from now when we talk about the 2017 NBA Finals, youngins are going to be very, very confused when we mention the moment that should forever be known as “The Kiss.”
With about three minutes left in the first half of Game 5, David West (who sacrificed millions to play for a championship, and therefore really wanted to win), grabbed a rebound. Kyrie Irving fought for it, David West being David West, was not going to allow that, and ripped the ball away, arms and elbows swinging to create space. Tristan Thompson came to his PG’s defence, which is an unwritten responsibility in the NBA big job description.
What then followed was a very close encounter between David West and Tristan Thompson where they literally went head-to-head. Their mouths smushed (shoutout to Smush Parker), their noses brushed up ever so tenderly, their foreheads pressed against one another, and they yelled and breathed into each other’s faces. It was…romantic?
“When Draymond Saved Klay’s Life”
In last year’s Finals, Draymond Green was being maligned for being a serial nut-kicker. This year, no such nut-kicking has occurred. In fact, the inverse happened. In the 3rd quarter of Game 5, Tristan Thompson received a pass with the smaller Klay Thompson being the closest defender. He gathered, but Klay was already in the air challenging the shot he thought was coming. These type of situations often occur, and Klay’s legs were inevitably taken out by Tristan’s body, leaving Klay standed in mid-air, parallel to the ground, and a hard fall in his near future. Until Draymond appeared from the heavens and caught him like a figure skater would catch their partner.
“The Return of ‘Nothing Easy!’”
If you mention the name “Zaza Pachulia” to me, I will most likely pull up the video (regardless of whether or not you want to see it) of Atlanta Hawk Zaza Pachulia taking the mic following a pivotal playoff win against the Celtics and screaming “NOTHING EASY! WE’RE GOING TO GAME SEVEN, BABY! GAME SEVEN! GAAAAAME SEVEEEEEEEEEEEN.”
It’s the defining moment of Zaza Pachulia’s career, if we’re being honest. And Zaza, being the NBA character that he is, is very much aware of it, embracing it after winning a championship in his 14th season. The underlying subtext, of course, is the J.R. Smith “hacked” tweet predicting “Cavs in 7.”
A lot of people, however, seemed to miss the moment right after the team hoisted the trophy (just as Doris was inviting Steve Kerr to center-stage) where, if you listen closely, Zaza can be heard (and seen) yelling what is now his signature catchphrase. Nothing easy, Zaza. Nothing easy.
Kevin Durant and the Real MVP
I would advise you talk to a therapist if you felt nothing watching Kevin Durant finally win a championship and bask in the glory as his Mom, Mrs. Wanda Durant (aka, the Real MVP), smiles and yells in excitement for his son.
Shoutout to Steph’s Mom, Sonya, and her bond with KD’s Mom, too.
“The NBA Champion With A The Rat Tail”
Last year, infamous NBA knuckhead J.R. Smith became an NBA champion. (He has since become a new man.) This year, it was infamous NBA knucklehead (*cue Shaq voice*) JAVAAALE MCGEE’s turn, and he was sure to let the world know about it, too.
The next time Shaq mentions Javale McGee, it’s going to be interesting. You can be sure Shaq will use Javale having a ring against Barkley. Javale had a solid season, and now he has a ring to show for it, as well as a place in history on what could eventually become known as the greatest single-season team. Hopefully the people who make the broadcast graphics will have enough room to keep in the factoid about his cool cat.
The Golden State Warriors may have won the 2016–2017 NBA championship, but with all these great moments, we are all winners.