Adam Silver woke up this morning and almost certainly came to a chilling realization.
That his showpiece as NBA commissioner, the championship series, The Finals, has already peaked.
The league failed by giving us more than we could possibly eat in Game One, which means that Game Two cannot possibly top it as a national discussion centerpiece without going to clownish and contrived lengths that will cause it to jump the shark entirely.
Game One was all the piefights at once, and we needn’t rehash all the ways the meringue flew. LeBron James (for his fashion choice), LeBron James Again (for his jaw-slackening performance), Kevin Durant, Ken Mauer, Tony Brothers, Mike Callahan in Secaucus, George Hill, J.R. Smith, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Tristan Thompson, Shaun Livingston, Tony Brothers Again, Draymond Green Again, LeBron James Yet Again (as media critic) and Mark Schwartz . . .
So, Adam, what else you got?
You know what you got? Nothing. There is nothing that can be beaten, which means you gave away all the best stuff in the first part of the movie. It’s the murder mystery read backward, the romcom where the protagonists fall in love during the opening credits, the superhero movie in which the stars form cleanup crews to tidy up the rubble after the planet’s been saved.
It’s the sequel as prequel, and it doesn’t work. It never has.
And it can’t be undone. The league cannot assign Joe West, Wes McCauley and Ed Hochuli to officiate Game 2. It cannot force James to go for 64, 16 and 16, or to show up on the team bus wearing a taffeta ballgown and a fez. It cannot make J.R. sleep in soup, and it cannot make Draymond go more over-the-top as a provocateur.
All the things that made Game 1 a classic of the modern age happened organically, and nothing is worse than forcing an organic process. Indeed, the Warriors winning makes the league’s problem here even worse, because the game that Cavs should have stolen for narrative purposes was stolen by the Warriors to further shut Cleveland’s window of possibility.
Now maybe this is the zen that is required to deal with a clearly lopsided series that has battled ferociously to make its mark against the three Finals that preceded it.
And it did all of that, only it did so in such a way that the rest of the series cannot outdo. I mean, how many times can you get people to not know the score, the rules, or even the laws of probability?
Oh, and never mind James’ trousers. Nick Young came to a game in a bathrobe this year. Their fashion may not coincide with your fashion, but nobody cares about your fashion, they get to wear what they want, fashion is fascism so stop acting like your dad.
But James’ trousers did set off the evening as a series of bizarre events that culminated in a shower of shrapnel that cannot be repeated. The NBA gave us its best stuff, and now it has nothing left.
Except maybe replacing the national anthem with Janelle Monae singing “Boris The Spider” in a helium voice, Sam Hinkie and Bryan Colangelo wrestling in a vat of cooking oil at halftime while Red Panda circles on a turbo-powered unicycle juggling cleavers and spitting fire, and Steve Kerr announces after the game that he is abandoning progressive politics for a hereditary monarchy run by a pony.
Hey, we’re trying here. Now that the NBA shot its storytelling bolt on the first night, we don’t have a lot to work with here. Adam, to quote the poet/philosopher Zlatan Ibrahimovic, you're welcome.