This article is part of VICE Sports' 2016 NBA Playoffs coverage.
Thus far, the NBA Finals have been a towering anti-climax. The league is getting the most attention it has received in almost two decades, and the series everyone is watching has been a one-sided bore. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have been unspectacular; Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love have been unnotable; and LeBron James is busy flashing active signs of existential collapse. Not great! This NBA season, fat and exhausted and losing its mind from a rolling overdose on blowouts, is collapsing on the couch and dying just a few feet shy of the finish line.
Exhibit A: Richard Jefferson, a doll made out of balsa-wood pulp and water and brought to life by a cruel Blue Fairy, scoring 12 points in the Cavs' spurty-fart game two loss.
To watch Richard mush into Festus Ezeli at the rim, make an uncontested putback, hook around Harrison Barnes off the dribble, and draw fouls on fast breaks is to know, most intimately, the character of these first two games, and to experience the pure banal letdown that a mismatched series engenders in viewers and fans.
This sad, meandering drive that very slowly becomes a non-dunk says it all. Not just about this series, or basketball, but life. You start out ready to drive, but two dribbles in your legs seize under the heaviness of it all—your family, society, your own body and mind. Hopefully, someday, you are able to gather yourself and get what you want, but even if you do you will look and feel faintly absurd as you just barely breeze by and incur the jeers of Mike Breen, who is watching you, somewhere.
The fist that shocked the world. Steve Kerr, the mildest man in sport, his face twisted with rage, biceps swelling out of his jacket, UNLEASHING his hand-rocks onto a poor whiteboard and shattering it into several pieces like a goddang piece of matzah. Not hours earlier, we saw Kerr sporting his very relaxed grey hoodie and chill late-90's frontspike, plying reporters with substantive-ish answers in a West Coast drawl. We spent the Western Conference Finals watching him make gentle suggestions to his desperate Warriors in the locker room. For years, we heard him call games on TNT without his body temperature once rising above 65 degrees! But here he was, losing his damn mind in front of the largest NBA TV audience in more than a decade.
When reporters inquired about the source of his explosion, he shot off a little, fake-passive-aggressive joke.
A vague gesture towards irritation with his team only serves to keep his real motivations concealed. Kerr tries to conceal the truth about his most primal self and turn attention back to his never-ending public performance as The Modern Ex-Jock Coach, with his effusive, friendly manner towards the media, embrace of "modern" space-and-shoot basketball. Kerr's only public personal excess is a tendency to berate referees, and the public doesn't care about that because they also loathe referees.
That's over. We have seen the beast that Michael Jordan witnessed on that bitterly cold day—I don't know that for certain, but Chicago in the fall, so you've got to assume—in 1995, when he and Kerr threw hands at practice before the Bulls' 72-win season. Kerr can't hide behind his middle manager's mien anymore. We now see this man for who he is; a roiling well of explosive competitive fire, a vicious dog stalking menacingly in a cage made of manners and open-mindedness.
What level of anger does it take to smash a plastic clip board with a fist? How deep did Kerr go to find that rage? Is it a level normal people, people without the compulsive competitive cravings of a pro athlete, can even reach? To find out, I used Stanislavski's Method to take my consciousness into the palaces of anger within common occurrences of American life. I tested my own personal rage-strength with a white board I picked up from an abandoned Sports Authority.
"They Ran Out of Asparagus at the Farmer's Market"
As you can see, the amount of anger this cooked up in me wasn't enough to even merit hitting the board. It was more of just a disappointment, really, even though I was deep in character as a man who was preparing a casserole and knew, upon learning of this asparagus news, that he would need to get green beans instead, and that it was going to be a step down.
"This issue of Spider-Man is just about him fixing an ancient wooden ship with his webbing, and is terrible"
The art was all janky sub-average Illustrator nonsense, and the attention to detail on the boats was fucking terrible. Conifer masts in the 15th Century? Get the fuck outta here. But my wasted four dollars didn't quite make me angry enough to destroy a clip board with one hand.
"Ten-foot-tall teens drove a van into my yard"
Since I'm already scared of normal teens, giant teens pose a severe threat to my constitution. Fear becomes anger, but not enough to get a good shatter on.
"My Racist Dog Ate My Cat"
Wow, what a horrible nightmare, to come home to my dog, mouth soaked in blood, my cat's tail thrown across the damn room, looking at me with fake-apologetic eyes while wearing a dog-sized Donald Trump hat. It unlocked an indescribable rage inside, learning my once beloved dog is a murderer, a bigot, and a very bad dog in one moment. But not enough, apparently, to power my arm through the bottom of the clipboard.
"Nuclear War in MY Backyard, but not my neighbors'!? How embarrassing!"
Seriously? Everyone else's yard is fine but my is nothing but a glass skidmark? My tomatoes were just starting to ripen! Bullshit of the highest caliber, an unfairness the likes of which I had never previously imagined. But it just didn't give me enough juice to shatter the 'board. I would need to unlock the deepest anger I could find in myself.
"Someone stole my glasses!"
If you're nearsighted and contact averse like me, there is no crueler world than one where someone has stolen your glasses. Your whole day is shut the fuck down if you can't see, so you inevitably start searching in a panic, your pathetically weak eyes leading you in out out of your house, desperate and afraid. And then, when you've finally put the pieces together and figure out that some motherfucker stole the only thing you REALLY need to leave the house or do ANYTHING except maybe squint at Twitter on your phone, the betrayal digs deep and takes vile root, a plant of anger so powerful and hungry that it turns the soil around it into dust.
There is no anger more pure, more visceral, than that which arises from getting your glasses stolen. When I used my PERFECT sense memory to relive those feelings, I went into a rage that nearly lit my blood on fire.
And yet it still wasn't enough. Not even CLOSE to enough. All the anger I could possibly muster wasn't even close to the purity and power of the rage that Steve Kerr felt in the middle of a game that was merely close at that moment. The mental power and internal fire that drives Kerr is so powerful that it accomplished more destruction in one swift movement than I, a normal person with standard motivations, could bring in 30 straight seconds of wailing and weeping in my hour of greatest terror and rage. Me and by bruised hands stand in awe.
LEBRON OF THE WEEK
The NBA tide has turned, and public perception of LeBron James as a golden basketball god amongst sweaty mortals is on the wane. "Steph Curry this," speaks the rabble. "Steph Curry that." Because LeBron has continued to be blazingly, crazily great in Golden State's supernova shadow, we explore at least one quality LeBron highlight a week.
Honestly not a great week for LeBron highlights, so far. He's been a little inefficient and his team is getting slowly dismantled against the (probably) greatest in history, so it's hard to blame him. A search for "LeBron James Vine" on Twitter just brings up videos of him traveling in Game 2. It's been an ugly scene.
But try to take joy in this spin drive to the basket. Even in the midst of this hideous spiral, James' fancy feet do beautiful work going towards the rim. For a full experience, try to watch it while imagine he doesn't have legs, James as floating radial torso driving at the rim. Then, imagine all basketball players without legs. Then all people. And animals. And plants. And objects. A floating world, which always has enough space for everyone. A utopia, brought to us by LeBron. Thanks, LeBron!
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