I know you are expecting a Coach K retirement column here, but it’s not going to happen today. I’ve given him his due before and he’ll certainly get it again, but he provided all of us an entire season to say goodbye to him so I’ll let the others go first.
Today I wanted to focus on the NBA.
I had a colleague ask me about my thoughts on LeBron James the day before the Lakers were eliminated and I’ve come to realize there’s no easy way to provide those.
LeBron consistently makes me shake my head, either out of amazement or frustration. He is a physical specimen unlike any I remember seeing and a lifetime of the sport on the highest level has given him a basketball IQ that is nearly as impressive as his physique.
He is among the best basketball players to ever live, yet he is disliked by so many because he calls himself the greatest, doesn’t always live up to his own hype and has a history of whining and flopping. As amazing as his game is, I personally can’t help but wonder how much better it could be with a different attitude.
What if Damian Lillard’s spirit was in LeBron’s body for a game. Is there anyone that doesn’t think Lillard would score 82 points and shoot 40 free throws? Dame has a way of playing the game that makes him Teflon to the criticism that typically accompanies early playoff exits. Nobody watches that guy play and thinks he could have done more.
The same can be said for Chris Paul. He can play dirty at times and famously has a Napoleon complex, but the man hasn’t met anyone yet that wants to avoid defeat more than he does. I don’t know if he enjoys winning, but he clearly hates to lose and plays like it. I was glad to see him and the Suns advance to the next round.
Someone I was not so happy to see advance was Kevin Durant. He doesn’t know I exist and my dislike of his personality doesn’t make his offensive game any less ridiculous, so I better get accustomed to it.
On a team with Kyrie Irving and James Harden, Durant is still the most unstoppable player on the court. His comeback from injury was not an easy one, but he looks like he hasn’t missed a step.
Forget what the NBA says, the best coaching done in the league this year was done by Chowan alumnus Nate McMillan.
Atlanta was was 14-20 when he took over and then proceeded to go 27-11 the rest of the way, earning a No. 5 seed in the playoffs. They are playing tough defense as you should expect from a McMillan- coached team and after one game, are giving the 76’ers all they can handle.
David Friedman is a longtime sports writer and lifelong believer that BLM. David can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.