The NBA Finals started last night with the Phoenix Suns taking a 1-0 lead over the Milwaukee Bucks. Under normal circumstances, this would be the time for overreaction. People would be crowning the Suns and wondering if Giannis is going to demand a trade, but... crickets. It seems like there are no big takes out there waiting to be voiced. The quiet is almost disturbing.
So where have all the takes gone? Well, it seems pretty obvious that without the biggest name in basketball, some people's hearts just aren't in it. Even Skip Bayless, faced with two weeks of discussing the brilliant mid-range games of Khris Middleton and Devin Booker, allowed himself a moment of honesty.
This is the first time he has ever said or typed something about LeBron James and I've believed he meant every word.
While this year's Finals has quit a bit of star power between Chris Paul and Giannis Antetokounmpo and even someone dating a Kardashian, neither team currently has that extra IT. These are just two good teams, trying to stay healthy and win their first championship in forever. Maybe it's as simple as no team from California or New York being involved.
For the last decade we've had LeBron James and/or the Golden State Warriors. Love them or hate them they were basketball's greatest success stories. Whether you were rooting for or against them, they were greatness and famousness and cot damn did we all have something to say about everything. They naturally inspired taking sides because they were writing history. Even with Giannis and CP3 hoping to solidify their place in history, it's just not quite the same.
Giannis Antetokounmpo seems to be widely liked. He's still quite young, but he's also had a good amount of playoff failures. He's done everything in his career the "right way." He was drafted by a small-market team. There were never any real rumors about him wanting a trade. He signed a supermax extension to stay with the team that drafted him. This is what the NBA wants. This is what fans are supposed to want.
Meanwhile, Chris Paul has become a journeyman. With CP3 you're watching an all-time great on the verge of finally breaking through to win a championship. It's one of the best sports stories. Even if some people do dislike Paul the player because he has an earned reputation as annoying, he's loved by teammates and has a likable off-court persona perpetuated by State Farm ads.
Whoever wins this series, it seems like a pretty good outcome. Even with a loss either fanbase should feel optimistic about the immediate future. Maybe some bad blood will find its way into the series. Until then, we're just stuck with a couple pretty good stories. Who has anything to say about that?