Neil Best first worked at Newsday in 1982, then returned in 1985. His SportsWatch column debuted in 2005.
Let’s take this latest long break between NBA Finals games to get a couple of things straight: LeBron James is the greatest player to make his pro debut in this millennium, and Stephen Curry is the most electrifying player of the moment.
Nothing that happens in Games 6 or 7 will change that, even if James breaks down weeping and goes scoreless after he is insulted by Draymond Green on Thursday night or if Curry pulls a John Starks from beyond the arc on Sunday.
All of that might seem self-evident now, but stuff changes quickly in our modern media world, in which endless hours of radio and television time and vast expanses of digital bandwidth must be filled with hot takes and general bloviating.
Can’t we all just agree to ban the word “legacy” for the next few days and enjoy the spectacle for what it is: an abruptly more intriguing series than it was before Green’s suspension and Kyrie Irving’s ascension in Game 5?
The legacy thing is tedious, really. I’ve done it. You’ve done it. ESPN has done it. We’ve all done it. But sometimes we all talk (and write) too much these days.
Enough. Save it for July. Or next year. Or 30 years from now.
Too often we lose sight of what is immediately in front of us, which in this case is a series that for those of us without a rooting interest should offer a night or two of delicious, stress-free, late-night entertainment.
Skeptics for years have wondered whether the NBA finds ways to manipulate these things, pro wrestling style, which inevitably led to raised eyebrows when Green was benched on Monday night and, voila, the Cavaliers survived!
Strange, it was. But the net result was good for everyone who follows basketball but is not a Warriors fan.
Same goes for a Cavs victory in Game 6. Most sports fans alive — again, not including Golden State supporters — would like to see all of this decided in Oakland in Game 7, putting a tidy bow on a Father’s Day that also will feature the final round of the U.S. Open.
But, please, remember: It’s just a game (or two).
If James falls to 2-5 in NBA Finals, he still will be ahead of Jerry West’s 1-8, a record that does not seem to have tarnished the memory of The Logo.
If Curry is not able to close the deal on the best regular season in history, and in the process join his teammates in enduring the worst choke in Finals history, it will not mean his transformational playing style was exposed at the end.
Don’t get me wrong. Championships obviously matter, and whoever comes out of this with a trophy will and should be remembered differently than whoever doesn’t.
It’s just that with way too much time on our hands and too many media megaphones at our disposal, we are too easily distracted from what really matters. The game’s the thing wherein we’ll catch the conscience of the King.
Just enjoy it.