The extremely inevitable end of another NBA season has arrived, with the
bad guys Miami Heat winning it all again and LeBron James cementing his place in basketball history in a "triumph of evil." The Heat's victory last night was easier than in their Game 6 overtime classic, but nothing will come easy this weekend of the haters of the most hated man in basketball. Indeed, the morning-after reaction — from ESPN to Nate Silver, from Cleveland to the club — was not unlike the classic five stages of grief. True to form, here's how to cope, complete with LeBron, D-Wade, Drake, and their champagne parade.
Displayed by: ESPN's Skip Bayless
In the end, the Spurs lost these Finals more than the Heat won.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) June 21, 2013
Congratulations to the Spurs, heavy underdogs who w/ 48 secs left in G7 had an easy shot by their best player to tie in Miami.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) June 21, 2013
So it's pretty obvious who this particular ESPN commentator was rooting for in this series — unlike pretty much everyone else at the Worldwide Leader in LeBron love. And we suppose there's a kind of moral victory in Tim Duncan blowing it. But come on, guys: Watching your favorite team lose over and over again is unhealthy. Admit that LeBron did his thing. Embrace it. Hug it out.
Displayed by: People in Cleveland
There is only one place where people are taking this loss harder than in San Antonio, and that is most certainly Cleveland, Ohio — the city LeBron left behind to go to Miami and get his championships. WKYC-TV caught up with Cavaliers fans who still feel the sting:
The station also took note of some choice comments from Cavs fans on their Facebook page. One fan wrote: "I hate him more than anyone in the world. When he took his 'talents to South Beach' he could have taken them straight to hell!" Another added: "After the way he did the Cavs and the city of Cleveland, he needs to shut up and never utter another syllable about Ohio. OHIO is over him." The hate remain strong, but... but... at least they have Kyrie Irving.
Displayed by: ESPN (and Drake)
"Fine, this terrible team won again." That's a pretty hard sentence to come to terms with. A better alternative is: "Fine, this terrible team won again, but they party with the Michael Bublé of the rap world." Yes, folks, the Heat celebrated with Drake. As ESPN showed us, though, this wonderful meeting of the minds almost didn't happen, because Drake was initially turned down when he tried to get into the Heat locker room for post-game bubbly:
But the former DeGrassi star did make it out to the club Story until 5:30 in the morning — TMZ has a lot of video footage from inside, including untouchable poses like these:
Displayed by: Bayless, and Spurs fans.
LeBron and the Heat's win isn't just about them. Someone had to lose, and on Thursday night it was the San Antonio Spurs — one of the classiest (and perhaps one of the more boring) teams in all of sports. And in San Antonio, the anger about LeBron's second championship takes a back seat to the fact that the Spurs were thisclose to winning the championship themselves. Twice.
Indeed, Spurs fans were already nursing hangovers from that Game 6 loss on Tuesday night. "Depressed About the Spurs Loss? That's Perfectly Normal" read the headline to a story from San Antonio's WOAI radio station on Thursday. The station interviewed "a prominent local psychiatrist" to tell them that being depressed is okay.
And seriously, someone go check on Mr. Bayless. Maybe tell him to watch the Gregg Popovich comedy show from before Game 7, back when things were still okay:
Displayed by: Andre Iguodala, Nate Silver
The Denver Nuggets all-star tweeted some advice for people who haven't accepted that truth about LeBron James:
If you still hate Lebron you really need a life coach... And I'll sponsor you...— Andre Iguodala (@andre) June 21, 2013
If Iguodala made good on his offer on giving everyone life coaches, he would probably see his $14.9 million salary evaporate pretty quickly. But, yes, this is the final stage of grief, the last bitter pill. And part of acceptance means the inevitable comparing of LeBron to Michael Jordan. The same thing happened, and is still happening, with Kobe Bryant
That said, if you want to satisfy your acceptance with the voodoo that is statistics, Nate Silver has got you covered. The elections number genie has come to the conclusion that the best chance for LeBron to get his next championship is next year (obviously?), but that decreases over the next couple seasons. Silver writes:
So LeBron’s chances of winning a third title next season in Miami are probably about one in three. After that, his odds begin to decline. For one thing, it is less certain that James will be surrounded by strong teammates ...
More important, players in team sports typically see their skills peak in their mid-to-late 20s, meaning that James’s game might also begin to wane.
LeBron James is 28 years old — the peak of his career, according to Silver. And, yes, haters, Nate Silver said wane, as in: it gets worse. So there's a slight possibility (though, let's remind you that LeBron is anything but "typical") that you won't have to go through all these stages again next year.