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6 Narratives for the 2019 NBA Finals

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The 2019 NBA finals are here. It promises to be an interesting one between the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors. This is the week for all kinds of analysis and handicapping articles to hit our timelines. But the NBA these days tend to have just as much action off the court as on the court. The off-court narratives dominate our mind 365 days a year. In the spirit of this modern NBA, here are some of the narratives that will keep you occupied as these two teams chase the Larry O’Brien trophy:

1. Durant’s Free Agency

No breaking news with this one. The NBA has been more about the offseason than the real season these last few years. There seems to be a universal obsession with free agency. Everybody expects the upcoming summer to be the craziest season of free agency ever. It’s only fitting that both headliners in the upcoming free agency made it to the Finals. Some fans are already tired of Kevin Durant’s free agency talk and I don’t blame them. “KD to the Knicks” will be a story one way or the other, though he is not even playing the first few games of these Finals. Talking heads will continue to point out “revealing clues” on why KD is going to the Knicks or why he is really, definitely going to the Knicks! Those seem to be the only two options in their minds.

2. Kawhi’s Free Agency

The Kawhi Leonard free agency noise was not as loud as KD’s during the season, but the story is similar. He is “going to LA, probably the Clippers”, according to the experts. One narrative is that the deeper this playoff run is for the Raptors, the more likely Kawhi is going to stay in Toronto. They have already made it to the Finals, farther than the Raptors have ever been. Kawhi is the toast to Toronto. Tickets are selling for upwards of $1,000 big ones. Various Toronto residents are offering Kawhi everything from free food for life to a free condo. There is really nothing more to be said on this topic except for Kawhi announcing his decision in July. However, that won’t stop anybody during this series.

3. Stephen Curry’s Legacy

Stephen Curry has nothing left to prove. As far as I’m concerned, he became a legend that Saturday night more than three years back when he took this shot in Oklahoma City:

Curry is the first guy ever who showed us that a shot from that distance can be taken out of choice and not just because of the compulsion of the clock. His ability to shoot off the dribble from ridiculous range has changed the game forever. These kinds of shots are common place now. He is a two-time MVP and a three-time champion, but still somehow, his legacy is always a hot topic on NBA Twitter.

Curry’s lack of a Finals MVP is among the topics his detractors bring up to beat up on him. Never mind that he could have easily been the MVP pick three out of the last four finals. He is a superstar and his current run of domination against the Rockets and the Blazers since Durant’s injury vaults him another notch higher among his fans. He is a made man in the Bay Area and his reputation will be fine there, win or lose. However, his legacy will be a topic nationally, especially if the Warriors lose.

You will see a generous helping of “Curry can’t win without KD” take on your Twitter timeline if the Dubs were to lose. That is not a fair criticism of Curry given that this team is built around it’s stars with very little depth. The Dubs will build a slightly different kind of team and continue to be a contender next year even if Durant leaves. The fact they are playing this well with this particular roster minus KD is a tribute to Curry and the team. But who cares about such rational analysis when you can throw some hot takes about Curry. It’s all about them likes and clicks!

4. Raptors Superfan, Nav Bhatia

This is kind of a cute story. Warriors Coach Steve Kerr tends to keep things woke and he actually shared this thread about a Raptors superfan. This story will be rehashed a few times during these Finals and that might be a good thing in the current climate we live in:

5. Patrick McCaw’s Revenge?

One of the few failures these Warriors have had in this run is the whole Patrick McCaw saga. Nobody really knows for sure what happened, but he refused to come back and play for the team. He decided to stay home and almost missed a year rather than play for the Dubs. The Warriors are often celebrated as one of the best organizations in all of sports with an awesome culture. So it was odd to see them spurned by their soft-spoken second round pick. It was a weird story when it happened and it is still weird now. But as fate would have it, McCaw somehow ended up on the Raptors and is now in his third straight Finals. He will play against his former teammates and the organization that drafted him.

Championship teams don’t get high draft picks and they have to make the most out of their low picks to continue their dominance. The Warriors definitely wanted McCaw to be that second round success story and desperately tried to keep and cultivate him. But he wouldn’t let them. This may not be a big national story, but is still relevant for the Dubs and their fans. Some fans criticize the Dubs for not doing a great job of drafting and developing young players. The Dubs actually bought McCaw’s draft rights for cash and were very invested in him. So, McCaw is right at the intersection of all these narratives, and that’s what bothers Golden State fans.

6. Drake and his Shenanigans

Last but not the least, rapper Drake will be in your living room and all over your TV screen throughout these NBA Finals. He has become the face of the Raptors and an annoying one at that. This will be a storyline, especially since the TV execs want to lure in the proverbial casual fans to these Finals. There are articles floating around comparing rappers from these two Finals towns. Oakland has a pretty impressive Hip-Hop history and E-40 is a regular at Warrior games. So, let’s get ready for some sort of a side-show involving Drake.

Whether these narratives enthrall or annoy you, the game on the court promises to be great. Make sure to enjoy the games. I can’t wait for the 2019 NBA finals to tip-off! Game 1 tips tonight at 9 PM ET on ABC.

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About Aravind Srinivasan

Aravind loves two things- the NBA and writing. He has been a long-time Phoenix Suns fans since the Charles Barkley-Kevin Johnson era of the mid-90’s. He now lives in the Golden State and follows the Warriors closely. An avid sports and NBA blogger since the early days of blogging, he is now a Suns and Dubs writer for TLSM. His favourite Sun is Steve Nash and his favourite Warrior is Steph Curry. Twitter: @15cent

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