Once is a happenstance, twice certifies a trend.
For that reason, a series is the best way to settle things in sports. Whether in three-, five- or seven-game sets, the purpose is to put teams through the wire in an effort to learn which is superior to the other.
But in a world chock full of hypothetical questions, along with trolls and those who simply disagree for fun, the line between what is common knowledge and that up for debate has never been more blurry.
This is particularly true in today’s NBA, where the quality of the game and its athletes comes into question on an almost daily basis.
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Being a product of the ‘80s, I cannot help but pivot to how the game used to be.
Fresh out the womb, it was the likes of Michael Jordan, Isaiah Thomas, Larry Bird and Patrick Ewing whose excellence allowed me to fall in love with the sport. Thrust into such greatness, one cannot help but be partial to it.
In the same vein, staying true to what was sometimes can jade and keep one from appreciating the greatness that currently is.
No two players in today’s NBA solicit more opinions than Cleveland’s LeBron James and Golden State’s Stephen Curry.
Between them are six Most Valuable Player awards – James with four (2008-09, 2009-10, 2011-12, 2012-13), while Curry has won the last two – three NBA championships and the constant proverbial juggling of the title as to who is currently the greatest basketball player on the planet.
A few years ago, such was an easy choice. But with every long-distance shot that rips out the heart of an opponent, the gap is either closing – or Curry has become the one.
Last week, the Golden State sharpshooter was unanimously named NBA MVP, a well-deserved honor. After all, Curry help lead the Warriors to a record 73 wins, led the NBA in scoring and his ability to make shots seemingly only possible on a video game could lead SportsCenter on a nightly basis.
Without doubt, he is the NBA’s most outstanding player, but is he really its “most valuable?”
Outside of Cleveland, Curry’s importance to the Warriors is immense. If you listen to your share national pundits, his presence or lack thereof is the difference between Golden State winning a second consecutive championship.
This playoffs’ first two rounds, the Warriors barely missed a beat without the “Chef,” winning six games as their leader nursed an ankle and knee injury.
Without James, Cleveland isn’t sniffing an NBA title. Heck, it isn’t farfetched the Cavaliers would not get out of the first round of the playoffs.
Maybe the better question, then, is which is least reliant on others for his success?
We received a glimpse of that in the NBA Finals last season, when James was at his best – undoubtedly the best player in the series. But alone, he was unable to shoulder the load on his own, while Curry – certainly not at his best – received help and as a result left with the championship.
Last week, James’ question about whether Curry is the “most valuable player” to his team’s success in the NBA may have come across in spite or bad taste, which is arguable to an extent. Following last year’s NBA Finals, though, it is a question only he can pose.
Hopefully, Golden State and Cleveland can meet for a second round. Not because Oklahoma City wouldn’t be a worthy foe for whoever comes out of the East, but more so there is a score that needs to be settled.
With a better cast around him this year, James may have the tools to get it done this time.
Of note …
With a 4-1 victory over Bishop England this past Friday, Aynor advanced to its first Class AA championship series in a decade. The Blue Jackets will host Game 1 of that series Monday at 6 p.m., taking on Strom Thurmond. Meanwhile in Murrells Inlet, St. James hopes to become the second Grand Strand baseball program to advance to a state championship series, taking on Airport with the Lower State AAA title hanging in the balance. … Speaking of championships, a host of golf teams will descend upon the area for this year’s Class AA and AAAA state championships. While Class AA teams will do their best to tame True Blue Plantation in Pawleys Island, their Class AAA counterparts will attempt to do the same at The Hackler Golf Course at Coastal Carolina. First-round play begins Monday morning, with the final round occurring on Tuesday. … After several weeks of play on the road, the Coastal Carolina baseball team returns to Conway with a Big South regular-season title in tow – but still plenty to accomplish. The Chanticleers host their final four regular-season games of the season, first against UNC Wilmington on Tuesday followed by a three-game set with Campbell beginning Thursday. … Also returning after an extensive road trip are the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, who begin a seven-game homestand Tuesday when Winston-Salem comes to call. … While the NBA and NHL playoffs find themselves in their respective conference final rounds, Nyquist merely finds himself in the middle of his pursuit of a Triple Crown. The thoroughbred hopes to claim the second jewel this Saturday at the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore.