the final battle

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the final battle

It’s here. Reminiscent of the days when Michael roamed the land, two word statements resonate significantly with the hardcore NBA aficionados. As was MJ’s “I’m back,” letter to the entirety of the sports and pop culture world, “It’s here” has a feeling eerily similar to the days of a young Jordan announcing his return to the game of basketball.

From The Chosen One vs. The Inferior One, to storylines stretched as thin as a delectable cup of shaved ice (with ice cream) in the summertime, I’ve really only read a few write-ups on the potential 7-game series between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors.

In a new world driven by sports talk and highlight shows that were once dedicated to solely highlights, the year 2016 looks a bit different. Playing professional sports in today’s world is no easy task, when you mix in the distractions that are nearly impossible to ignore.

However, we have something special on our hands here, folks. A rematch of last year’s classic 6-game series between these two same teams; yes, but somewhere along the line, it all feels vastly different. More so, this year’s Finals resembles a music festival or an incredible concert where the energy is already present before the opening song. Where the fans and their vibrations resonant from town to town, city to city, state to state, and out into the free world.

Two sports icons meet once again to stake their claim as the best player, and more importantly, the best team in the National Basketball Association. Basketball is an interesting sport. From the outside looking in, many assume that with only five players on the court, there should be no conflict in scoring the ball, playing defense and winning games. However, from the inside looking out, basketball is one of the most complex, yet simple games that exists. It’s a fine line, and only the great teams seem to find the magic potion that engraves their names into the history books forever.

This is always a weird week for me. Growing up, I participated in basketball camps each and every single summer I can remember. Waking up early, eating a quick breakfast and heading out the door with my mom to pick up friends, these basketball camps helped defined not only my childhood, but who I would become in my adulthood.

With summer nostalgia in full swing, I think back to the days of these camps and the lessons I learned along the way. First, the word ‘teamwork’ can never be escaped. Ever.

From day one, coaches and players preach the word to young, energetic campers who are anxious to skip the fundamentals and head right to the basketball games to put on a show. At the time, it feels as if these coaches and players are blowing smoke and overdoing the term throughout the entirety of the camp. Most teams don’t advance in the camp tournament, egos take over, and many players leave camp upset that they even showed up in the first place.

However, not all of these tactics and motivational techniques fall on deaf ears. To the basketball purist, summer basketball camps are the quintessential transition from boyhood to manhood. Eliminating much of my selfish human nature along the way, I can vividly remember winning more basketball camp tournaments than any of my friends.

However, I didn’t win them alone; my teams did, and that was the biggest difference. Am I writing this to brag about my summer basketball camp tournament wins? Absolutely not. I would feel like Uncle Rico if that were the case:

Yet, I am trying to prove that with all the marketing and ‘themes’ behind this year’s NBA Finals, it all boils down to one question and one question only:

Who wants it more?

Who’s willing to lay it all out on the line for a potential seven more games? Who’s going to dive on the floor for loose balls? Take charges? Pass to the open teammate? Make free throws? Contest every shot? Play defense?

In an age filled with participation trophies and a hardcore denial into the realities of failure and loss, only one team will reign as the 2016 NBA Champion. Learning from failure is of massive importance in the human predicament, however, so is winning. In life, there are winners and losers, no matter how many schools, parents and youth sports teams want to deny this fact.

So, the moment I’ve been waiting for is finally here; The Chosen One vs. The Inferior One in a classic battle between two very talented, very interesting teams. Each plays like their own, with the Cavs reloading from last season equipped to defeat this lofty Golden State team, and the Warriors picking up where they left off to wreck havoc on the rest of the National Basketball Association and anyone standing in there way.

Regular season wins record? Check. Most three-pointers made in a season? Check. Most three-pointers made in an NBA playoff game? Check. A trip back to The Finals? Check.

Back-to-back championships?

Ch — e — —

Well, we’ll just have to wait and see on that one.