Tom Sorensen

Are NBA’s biggest stars ruining playoffs, or changing basketball forever?

The Golden State Warriors and guard Stephen Curry (left) play basketball, it’s beautiful. But so far the scores have been ugly.
The Golden State Warriors and guard Stephen Curry (left) play basketball, it’s beautiful. But so far the scores have been ugly. AP

This is where I write about how good the NBA playoffs have been. And the first round and second rounds have been competitive as long as they don’t include Cleveland and Golden State.

Houston-San Antonio has been interesting, as has Boston-Washington. You can make a case that San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard is the NBA’s second best player, and you can make a case that Houston’s James Harden is third.

Does the winner of San Antonio-Houston have enough to upset Golden State, and does the winner of Boston-Washington have enough to upset Cleveland?

I don’t see it. Soccer fans call their sport the beautiful game. Golden State plays beautiful basketball. Steph Curry is the best shooter in the sport and the best long-range shooter in basketball history. Yet he gives the ball up willingly to Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson and anybody else on a good shooting streak.

Over in Cleveland, LeBron came into the league selfless, and he hasn’t changed. He obviously is the best player in the league and perhaps the second best of all time. He does two things better than Michael Jordan did; rebound and pass.

In the NBA, this is the golden age of passing. Watch LeBron run Cleveland’s offense, Harden run Houston’s and Curry run Golden State’s.

If people on the playgrounds imitate what they see, the players who measure their worth solely in terms of the points they score might willingly give the ball up.

Yeah, that’s not going to happen. But younger kids might say that if LeBron and Harden and Curry do it, they should, too.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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