“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Kevin Durant and Stephen A. Smith got into a beef on Twitter last week over the former accusing the latter of ruining the NBA while the latter complained that the league’s shift toward marketing personalities—Michael Jordan, LeBron James, and every other star great and small—in the 1990s set the league up for its issues in the past couple of years where TV ratings fell off a cliff in as much time as it took LeBron’s Lakers to collapse.
Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics, a team that has spent the 2022 playoffs turning everything smart fans think we know about basketball on its head on its way to its fourth conference finals and first championship-round appearance in just the past six years, stole Game 1 in San Francisco to instantly make this potentially the best Finals since Cleveland shocked the world in 2016.
And meanwhile, a hobbyist NBA writer in suburban Seattle checked the traffic report and…
Well, thank you to everyone who’s read my deep dives that formed the basis of that Celtics article last week that laid the groundwork for whatever my Finals postmortem looks like in a week or two when the games are done.
Not just because you read my stuff. I mean, that’s awesome and I remain both astonished and grateful that anyone cares enough about what I say that they’d not only read it but cite it in arguments.
But because it’s people like you, people who are more interested in people actually playing basketball than media morons gossiping about the players, who give this site its tagline and its mission.
After all, there is no more pernicious race to the bottom in America if not the world today than the full-throated embrace of small-mindedness that the wife of a titan of history—and a pretty big historical deal in her own right, make no mistake—lamented back when it was still the Basketball Association of America playing games involving teams called the Celtics and Warriors.
The fact that there are people who can tell you every salacious detail of the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard debacle but couldn’t tell you who Volodymyr Zelenskyy is nor where Ukraine is on a map of Europe is depressing.
And these are the people who are the ones wasting everyone’s oxygen blithering on like imbeciles about a guy who hasn’t been a serious factor in the NBA conversation since he blew his Achilles and a guy whose proven track record of ignorance is a stain on the once-great reputation of a major cable network.
Meanwhile, the rest of us are watching a potential all-timer of a Finals with a storyline under every rock and a statistical hodgepodge to make sense of and use to try and figure out, like the fickle weather of a midsummer New England afternoon, what’s not just going to happen in any given series but what’s going to happen in the next five minutes and having an equally futile time of it trying to figure that out.
We’re watching “defense wins championships” collide with “battle-hardened veterans with championship chops defying all rumors of their death and back for another run” while “redemption of a perennial disappointment” (yeah, I see you, Andrew Wiggins, you done good, kid) and “survivors of a truly insane road” join the conversation.
This is where the opposite end of Roosevelt’s maxim enters the story.
When you’re talking Finals, look for the people who want to discuss these ideas, the four I just mentioned or any of a ton of others, like whether momentum is real or whether the league will try to use the referees to influence the series (they won’t, but Bill Burr brought it up on Jimmy Kimmel’s show and it shows how far Adam Silver still has to go to erase the ugliest stain on David Stern’s legacy) to that whole bit about David Stern’s legacy.
Talk about events, because there’s nothing wrong with even great minds keeping from getting too far into the clouds. After all, all the high-minded ideas in the world don’t put balls in baskets and points on scoreboards and sports are no fun without that one-word dismissal of every argument of a losing team: “Scoreboard.”
But for the love of the basketball gods, don’t gossip about the dumbest race to the bottom this side of the Depp-Heard media circus that at least had the small societal benefit of keeping morons from trying to talk to the grown-ups about the war in Ukraine and perhaps the larger societal benefit of making people with brains have far more interesting conversations about backlash and celebrity culture and…well…the ideas that great minds talk about, even in June if they’re not NBA fans.
Game 3’s Wednesday. It’d be a heck of a thing if Boston managed to win another series in the same playoff year after blowing it…and just as much of a heck of a thing if the Celtics won Game 3 and then took the series in 5.
And if absolutely nothing else, stay tuned and thanks for reading, because your interest in talking about ideas is what makes this site worth writing.