One of my favorite
But how much do you think about English now? Do you even know who English is? Only hardcore ’80s sneakerheads remember English because he had the misfortune to play at the same time as
The Celtics and the Lakers were so much the signature teams of their era that when you think of '80s basketball, you think of Bird and the Celtics and Magic and the Lakers, and everybody else is a minor character. English was born at the wrong time.
Today’s Alex English is everyone except
Last July 4, when free agent forward
Laments about predictability are misguided. Rematches in basketball aren't like movie sequels, with lesser follow-ups to "The Hangover" making you forget what you loved so much about the original. They instead enrich characters you already know, deepen plotlines, expand the canvas for new stars and new twists. And more to the point: They cement the teams involved as the generational signposts for millions of fans.
Right now, you might be tired of seeing the Warriors and the Cavaliers play for the championship. But I bet you won't feel that way by Game 4, and I know you won't feel that way in 20 years. In 20 years, this might be all you remember.
These two teams have more than just familiarity to ensure their legacy. The Warriors, led by Stephen Curry, play in a wild, free-flowing style. They are compulsively fun to watch and represent the culmination of every prevailing trend in the NBA over the past half-decade: Shoot from distance, shoot quickly and then hurry back so you can do it again. They play such an attractive brand of ball, with such talent everywhere, that they seem poised to dominate the NBA for years to come.
Except … here is LeBron James, already one of the best five basketball players of all time. LeBron has played every style imaginable, from the old, plodding defensive slop of the
It was inevitable they would meet at this point. Again. This has been a terrific NBA season, with players such as
This year, there was a sense that you could skip the regular season and just watch the Finals and still see all you really needed to see. History will show this notion was right. These NBA Finals aren't all that matter now: They're all that will ever matter. We are watching the Celtics-Lakers. We'll remember this as long as we remember those matchups from the '80s. It is likely all we'll be able to remember. That's sad for the rest of the NBA. But for the rest of us, who get to watch this series and then talk about it for years to come … well, maybe Russell Westbrook and James Harden were born at the wrong time, but we, as fans, absolutely were not. This is the golden age. This is the point of any of it.
Will Leitch is a senior writer at Sports On Earth, contributing editor for New York magazine, film critic for Grierson & Leitch and the founder of Deadspin.