Basketball is big in Indian country, and nothing’s bigger than the NBA Finals. The Oklahoma City Thunder come straight out of Indian country and face the easy-to-vilify Miami Heat. We just hope the fans will keep their cool when the Thunder take down the Heat, unlike they did when they eliminated the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
The Thunder are led by superstar Kevin Durant, who led the league in scoring, averaging 28 points a game. The Heat are, of course, led by either Lebron James (third in scoring this season, with 27.1 points per game), their ultra-talented and much-loathed (in Cleveland, at least) megastar, or Dwayne Wade, the battle-tested former NBA Finals MVP who had been the alpha dog in Miami for seven seasons before LeBron showed up. The third head in the Heat’s three-headed monster belongs to Chris Bosh, the team’s 6’11” center.
Tip-off is at 9 pm tonight (EST), and it’s clear the pressure is really only the Heat. When Lebron held his now infamous “The Decision,” in which he broke the heart of his hometown Cleveland, when he very publicly left the Cavaliers, on national TV, telling millions of viewers he was “taking his talents to South Beach,” a proper NBA villain was born. Lebron and his Heat teammates have tried to own their status as most-hated team in the NBA, but fell short last year in the Finals, losing to the Dallas Mavericks. Lebron made his life a little more difficult when he said, at a pep rally after The Decision”, that the Heat would bring home “not five, not six, not seven” titles, but eight. He’d better get started soon, as in eight season he’ll be 35.
Meanwhile, the Thunder are led by a new kind of superstar—humble, soft-spoken, and yet still a monster on the court. It did not go unnoticed when, during the national debacle that was “The Decision,” as Lebron was destroying his image (in fairness, Lebron is, by all measures, a kind young man…but in the realm of sports narratives, “The Decision” made him an instant antagonist) and making a giant news story out of which team he was going to allow to pay him many millions of dollars, Kevin Durant tweeted, “Extension for 5 more years with the Thunder,” just the night before. Eight words (if you count the number), no big fuss, just a supremely talented basketball player letting his fans know he was sticking around.
Now the two diametrically opposed superstars are facing off on the biggest stage in basketball. We’ve got the Thunder in seven. Who do you have?