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Butler and the King

October 6th, 2020 · No Comments · Lakers, NBA

Here is the secret to the NBA’s success:

It is so personal.

In no other major team sport are the competitors so clearly revealed to the audience, or to each other. Physically, mentally, emotionally.

These are giants who compete in teams of five, in their underwear, on a crowded stage, where some of their soaring leaps bring to mind Nureyev and others the down-force violence of a ton of bricks.

They play a game that calls for subtle tactics and but also for sheer athleticism and foot speed that always seems set at fortissimo.

It is a personal game because the distances are so small. The court is 94 feet from end to end, 50 feet across. NBA players can go from one end to the other in a matter of a few strides. During a game, they do lots of bumping and pushing. Lots of sweat flies around.

Most of the best players know each other. That leads to rivalries often deep and certainly real, with players jostling for position in the game’s hierarchy, for reasons of glory, ego, money.

Which brings us to Game 4 of the NBA Finals game tonight between LeBron James and the Lakers versus Jimmy “Buckets” Butler and the Miami Heat.

LeBron being King James, and Jimmy Butler the voluble courtier who would like to bring down James, and the Lakers.

Two nights ago, Butler scored 40 points in a 115-104 victory over the Lakers. He was the best player on the floor, and among the others out there were LeBron James, who scored 25, but with eight turnovers and Anthony Davis, limited to 15 points.

According to Butler, LeBron in the first quarter said the Heat was “in trouble”. Well, yes, about to fall into an 0-3 series hole.

However, the Heat bounced back, behind Butler, and the latter said he announced three times, within earshot of James in the third quarter, that the Lakers were the team in trouble.

Over the past decade, it has usually not been a good idea to trash-talk with LeBron. Jimmy Butler is a nice player, but this is his first appearance in an NBA Finals; it’s No. 10 for LeBron.

So, can James and Davis and the rest of the Lakers get a rope around Butler and the Heat, and get this series back on track to provide the Lakers with their 17th championship? Does LeBron plan to put Butler back in his place — as a nice veteran on an interesting team that is not the NBA’s best?

We have to watch the game now, even if it means a 3 a.m. start in France, where I live. This could lead to the downfall of a monarch.


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