The NBA finals begin tonight, pitting the Oklahoma City Thunder against the Miami Heat. This match-up has been touted since December, and now the stage is finally set for an all-time showdown. Here are the top 5 reasons to tune in tonight:
1. Battle of the Best
Quite simply, LeBron James and Kevin Durant are the two best players in the NBA. You could argue for days about which one of them is better, and this series will weigh heavily on the debate for years to come. LeBron/Durant has real potential to become the Magic/Bird of this decade, as both Miami and OKC should be competitive for a long time. Tonight might just be the first chapter in a rivalry for the ages. Heat vs. Thunder may not have the storybook appeal of Celtics vs. Lakers, but every legend has to start somewhere.
2. The Eternal Struggle of LeBron James
The league's MVP is also the most polarizing figure in the NBA. Whether you admire his skill, decry his arrogance, love his competitiveness, or loathe his celebrity shenanigans, it is impossible to be indifferent to LeBron James. His search for a championship has captivated the league for years, and now he's knocking on the door once again. The reason that his quest is so compelling is that failure to win a title is the cornerstone of any anti-LeBron argument. No matter what else he might achieve, his detractors would always be able to fall back on his lack of a ring. His off-the-court legacy also hinges on a trophy, because abandoning Cleveland is even less forgivable if it was all for naught.
3. Sorry Seattle
Cleveland is not the only jilted city in the mix. Seattle also has an axe to grind when it comes to this particular series. Like Cleveland, Seattle hasn't won a major sports championship in over 30 years. And after getting a preview of things to come with Kevin Durant's rookie-of-the-year performance in 2008, Seattle also lost their superstar forward to another city, but this time the entire franchise went with him. Seattle faithfuls were heartbroken when the Supersonics left to become the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the prospect of bringing home a title to OKC so soon after the team's departure is salt in the wounds of these forsaken fans.
Not only are LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, and Russell Westbrook NBA All-Stars, they're also members of the unofficial all-fashion team. Sports and fashion may not share much of their fan base, but how can anyone not get at least some enjoyment out of professional athletes dressed like haute-couture birthday clowns? Russell Westbrook is clearly winning the post-game style throw down in the playoffs so far, and of course his swagger level is off the charts. “I've been knowing how to dress for a while,” he told reporters while explaining this outfit:
5. Jeff Van Gundy
The role of “color commentator” is a precarious one. When part of your job is to be a little bit wacky, it's all too easy to be more than a little bit annoying. However, Jeff Van Gundy gets it just right. What makes him great is his wholly unapologetic honesty. Several times per game, he'll break from his standard announcer cadence and give us a dose of real talk. More often than not, it's something he's probably not supposed to say. Listening to play-by-play commentator, Mike Breen, try to smooth over Van Gundy's latest outburst while still calling the game makes for classic live television every time.
BONUS: F- You, Kobe
What if I told you that a win for the Thunder means Kobe Bryant won't be the most decorated active player in the NBA? Well, I'm telling you that. If the Thunder win, it will be Derek Fisher's sixth NBA Championship, as many as Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabar, and the most among active players.