Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Who Will Knicks Fans Be Rooting For in the NBA Finals?
Though each new season begins with even higher hopes of contention, the Knicks have been ousted in the first round of the playoffs the past two seasons.
Forced to watch at home, most Knicks players will probably hold back from rooting for anyone in this season's NBA Finals, which begin tonight. But the same can't be said for all of their fans.
After watching New York lose to both the Celtics and Heat over the last two seasons, it was unlikely that Knicks fans would be cheering on the winner of the Boston-Miami Eastern Conference Finals matchup.
With even more bitterness and disdain for LeBron James following "The Decision," just about every Knicks fan will be jumping on the Oklahoma City Thunder bandwagon during The Finals. In what's sure to be a classic superstar matchup, James and Kevin Durant will lead the way for their respective teams as each player seeks out his first NBA title.
After performing at quite the historical level during the Conference Finals, it's obvious James is in the zone. After failing to lead the Cavaliers to a title on his own in 2007, the current NBA M.V.P. received even more criticism when he and his star-studded teammates couldn't work together to bring home the bacon to Miami last season either.
But now the 27 year old James appears more focused and determined than ever. In an even stronger attempt to prove the doubters wrong, he's carried the Heat on his back. James is clearly out to silence the critics with the ultimate goal not only simply in mind, but more in reach than ever before.
The only problem is that a player as fierce as Durant stands in his' way. In fact, with a supporting cast that includes Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and five-time NBA champion Derek Fisher, the Thunder may in fact represent an even tougher matchup for the Heat than teams like the Spurs, Lakers, or Mavericks would have.
James will certainly have his hands full trying to contain Durant, whom he actually worked out with in Akron during the NBA lockout. The same can be said for Dwyane Wade, who will likely be asked to guard Westbrook throughout the series. What's more, James and Wade will be forced to get creative offensively, as both players enjoy penetrating to the basket. If either player wants to duplicate some of the success they've experienced in the postseason thus far, they will have to evade the Thunder's intimidating defensive frontline of Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins.
Both still 23 years old, it's not common for a dynamic duo as young as Durant and Westbrook to be leading their squad to the NBA Finals. Though they've taken the league by storm, emerging as two of the best players in the league, first time may not be the charm for this young squad. On the flip side, the Heat has obviously endured the bumps and bruises most developing teams experience. Perhaps this year is finally their year to rise above, whereas for the Thunder, it's simply the first taste of what will be a longer journey to ultimately taking home the title.
Whether or not the Thunder are truly ready to emerge as NBA Champions on their first attempt remains to be seen. Nevertheless, Knicks fans all around will be rooting for the young guns to deliver an upset, prolonging the suffering James and his teammates have endured over the last two seasons.
Though most Knicks fans may not want to hear it, there may be one small reason to hope for a Heat title victory: to be able to witness what's sure to be an electrifying and exuberant Ronny Turiaf celebration.