My finals week starts Thursday.
While most students are at least a week away from hunkering down at 24-hour Powell or chugging cups of coffee that make 7-Eleven’s Big Gulps look like shot glasses, I’ll be sacrificing sleep and my grades to watch the “three-match” between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA finals.
The only thing that could ruin my vibe is my midterm that ends right before tipoff.
No, I don’t believe the claim that the playoffs have been boring because the Warriors and the Cavs have only lost one game combined in them.
A prevailing theory among NBA fans is that since Golden State and Cleveland are superteams with at least three bonafide superstars, other teams can’t match up with them talentwise – thus draining the playoffs of their nail-biting, high-pressure stakes. After all, the Warriors are averaging more than 16 more points per game than their playoff opponents.
But spare me the “woe is me” complaints if you’re a fan of the other 28 franchises in the Western and Eastern conferences. The widespread dialogue surrounding the NBA after Golden State blew a 3-1 lead in last year’s finals was which team would win the rubber match.
Now we’re getting exactly what we wanted.
Furthermore, those who dislike the idea of a superteam are also awfully silent when it comes to college basketball. There is not as much outcry when a school such as Kentucky signs six five-star recruits or when Duke inks three No. 1 prospects at their respective positions.
Nothing is inherently wrong with the concept of a superteam, especially if most of the stars are homegrown or local talent – 2017 NCAA champion North Carolina has six in-state players on its roster. All organizations or schools operate on a level playing field and teams should rightfully attempt every legal avenue to gain a step up on their competition.
Take UCLA for example.
Prior to the 2016 season, men’s basketball coach Steve Alford had already signed Lonzo Ball, ESPN’s No. 1 point guard and No. 4 overall recruit in the class of 2016. And once T.J. Leaf, the No. 13 overall recruit according to ESPN, decommitted from Arizona, Alford jumped on him like he was the last train to NCAA title-town.
Teams like the Warriors and the Bruins are now expected to contend for championship trophies, and if they see an opportunity – especially one that looks like an offensively talented, 6’10”-plus power forward – it is well within their right to seize it. NBA teams have a salary cap, NCAA schools have scholarship limitations, and as long as they are within the rule restrictions, anything is fair play.
Talent is spread more thinly in the NCAA, where you have potential top-three draft picks such as Ball competing alongside future first-round picks and players destined for a contract in the Basketball League of Serbia, compared to the NBA. So whenever hyped prospects or superstars face off against each other, fans receive the maximum entertainment value.
The bottom line is that if you can respect college teams for signing the best talent available, you can do the same for professional teams aiming to achieve the same goal – winning a championship.