Great movies tend to have great endings. Profound statement, I know. But it’s true. The Godfather: unforgettable finale. Chinatown: arguably the best closing quote in film history. Ocean’s Eleven: what’s better than the squad all standing outside the Bellagio? La La Land: don’t even get me started about how great it is.
But the funny thing about great endings is that, every now and then, they can turn a largely mediocre movie into a memorable one. Case in point: The Usual Suspects. The cast of characters as a whole aren’t particularly intriguing. At times, the dialogue amounts to little more than fuck you! No, fuck you! with everyone pointing guns at each other. There also isn’t one great scene for the first 90 minutes. Youtube basically confirms this because it takes a while to find any individual scenes to watch…except for that ending. You know the one I’m talking about: Keyser Soze (a.k.a. Kevin Spacey) limping, and then gradually walking out of the police station cool as a cucumber, much to the surprise of Chazz Palminteri (and much to the chagrin of his cup of coffee).
An ending for the ages elevated The Usual Suspects from being a rather mediocre film to one of the more talked about hits from the ’90’s. Essentially the same thing is going to happen to this year’s NBA playoffs.
Everyone keeps saying they’ve been terrible. You’re not necessarily wrong. All you need to point to, really, is the conference finals. As I said the other day, Cavs/Celtics has basically been a varsity vs JV scrimmage. Warriors/Spurs was over once Kawhi went down. Both Cleveland and Golden State will enter the Finals having faced no resistance.
But I still have two issues with people saying the playoffs have been bad up until this point. First, people should treasure every opportunity to watch Golden State and Cleveland. The Warriors recently recorded the most regular season wins over a three-year stretch in NBA history. They’re likely to enter the “greatest team ever” conversation sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, LeBron is having arguably the best stretch of his career as he creeps closer and closer to taking the GOAT title away from M.J. Basically watching the Warriors and Cavs right now is like watching Real Madrid take on an overmatched La Liga opponent. What’s the point in watching, we know Real Madrid is going to win! Dude, you’re about to watch Ronaldo score, like, four goals. Enjoy watching a legendary team and player while you still can.
Second, most of the other series’ have been intriguing. Celtics/Wizards went the full seven and featured a clutch John Wall buzzer beater and a brawl in Game 3. What more can you ask for from an Eastern Conference semifinal? Moreover, I thought that some of the matchups out West, particularly Spurs/Rockets and Jazz/Clippers, were compelling.
Nope. The NBA playoffs have still sucked. Well, if you’re not yet satisfied with this year’s postseason, you will be by June. Warriors/Cavs is going to be one of the most anticipated titles clashes of all-time, and it is a great bet to live up to the billing.
Where to even begin! Golden State has a super team that would intimidate nearly all of the other recent super teams. Durant, Curry, and company entered the year as consensus favorites to win the title and they’ve done nothing to dispel that belief. But they obviously have some unfinished business. The Cavs are still the defending champs. And, as mentioned, LeBron is making a legitimate case to go down as the greatest basketball player of all-time. A fourth ring, and a second consecutive victory over the mighty Warriors, might just be enough for James to eclipse Jordan for good.
Here’s what else this rubber match has going for it. For starters, many of the very best NBA players will be on center stage. Roll call: we got LeBron, Durant, Curry, Irving, Thompson, Green, Love…yep, looks like everyone is all here. Next, we got future Hall of Famers facing watershed moments in their careers. LeBron is trying to surpass Jordan. Durant is looking for his first ring. Curry is hoping to make up for his subpar performance late in last year’s Finals. Throw in the revenge element for the Warriors, as well as the “nobody believes Golden State can be beaten” factor motivating the Cavaliers, and what we have here in this rubber match is a modern-day Ali/Frazier, Part III. And remember: many boxing experts say the “Thrilla in Manila” was the greatest fight of all-time.
So if you’re planning on filing a complaint to human resources regarding this year’s “bad” NBA postseason, hold off on that. The 2016-17 that has thus far been an exhibition for one of the greatest teams, as well as one of the greatest players, in NBA history will end in a clash of monumental proportions. And an ending of that caliber will be more than enough to keep fans satisfied and talking for years to come.