i think the 2017 nba finals are so good that it’s boring [published on the step back]

“Which team do you want to win?” the bartender asked. “Neither,” I responded, as if that were a possibility. We laughed. Game 2 had just begun, and I, begrudgingly, found a place at the bar to watch the game alone. Alone because I didn’t want to subject any of my friends to my cynicism, sorrow and acerbity.

I think there are a lot of us out here – people who don’t want the Cavaliers or the Warriors to win. People who love basketball, respect the talent of these magnificent athletes, but still can’t find the capacity to back either team.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I’m sure of it, actually.

We are certainly watching some of the best basketball the league as ever seen. And yet, I’m not enjoying it. Quite frankly, the birth of these super teams have depleted competition and made for, well, rather boring and predictable outcomes.

When Kevin Durant joined the Warriors this season, it was nearly irrefutable that they’d not only be in the NBA Finals, but the champions. This series has made me realize what I love so deeply about this game is the competition. It is thinking that the underdog has a chance. There is no underdog in this series. The Warriors, emphatically, have a better and more well-rounded lineup, but the Cavaliers are by no means an underdog. Their roster is stacked with talent. LeBron James is the best player in the league. That doesn’t mean I have to like him or cheer for him, and least of all, I don’t have to feel pity that his squad can’t matchup against the Warriors. It’d be more fun if they did, though. And truth be told, I’m still bitter about Durant’s decision to ditch Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. I don’t blame him for taking an easier route to a ring. I just don’t have to like it, either.

A friend compared this matchup to the All-Star Game, but where the players actually care. I agree with that. But, like the All-Star game, it’s a lot of fast-paced and sloppy play, mottled with displays of sheer athleticism and prowess. That’s what people like me are tuning in for. People like me who watch All-Star Weekend for the dunk contest and the commentary and the fashion. And then keep the actual game on in the background as we make dinner and banter about good books and new music with friends. Because while the All-Star Game boasts unparalleled levels of talent, it lacks an underdog and, often, competition — just like this series.

Agree or disagree, that’s up to you. I’m just here to remind y’all, and assure those like me, that not enjoying this series is completely, one hundred percent okay. That it is alright that we’re tuning in out of habit and not for either team, but for the displays of sheer athleticism and prowess. And that a lack of enthusiasm for this year’s NBA Finals doesn’t diminish our love and appreciation for the greatest game on Earth.

Here’s to hoping there’s some competition in Game 3.

[View on The Step Back]

Jennifer Universe