The 2018-19 NBA season is around its mathematical halfway point. The Association still believes that its destination will be another championship for the Golden State Warriors. But that doesn't mean we can't enjoy the season as a whole. Last year was wonderful, so let's return to the path. Let's go back to the Journey.
Song of the Week: Tank - "Thanking You"
If there is one thing any story with a heroic protagonist must have, it's a struggle and change to overcome adversity. Somewhere in the middle of the plot, the protagonist receives a loss or some other negative that humbles them. In games such as God of War (though Kratos is far from a protagonist in the earlier installments), powers are stripped and must be retained throughout the game. In Metal Gear Solid, Solid Snake is captured and tortured and must escape with no weapons and very few items. In most cases, the protagonist must have the possessions that make him powerful removed.
Coupled with this humbling process is the fact that said protagonist has usually grown too high in confidence. Their arrogance has been developed because of various achievements and success, usually rather quickly, and they use that as proof they're prepared for anything and everything that lies ahead. That can lead to them shunning the counsel of someone in the game who had been helping him, as with Kratos and the goddess Athena in God of War III. The hero is defeated and embarrassed, and with every accessory and false source of strength removed, they understand where true strength lies and that whoever had ignored before were ultimately right.
Kyrie Irving publicly admitted that after a tough loss against the Orlando Magic in which there was confusion between him and a couple teammates, he called former teammate LeBron James to apologize for what was apparent arrogant behavior while both of them were on the Cleveland Cavaliers. Before revealing that, he told nearby reporters that the young guys on the Boston Celtics do not understand what it takes to win a championship, which Irving experienced with LeBron and the rest of the Cavs in 2016. Now as the superstar player on a team that has yet to accomplish much, he's seeing some of the faulty perspectives he used to have–that smug attitude that grows and grows until humbling happens.
Growth, maturity and other concrete words that confirm mental spiritual and emotional improvement are ideas we all believe in. Unfortunately, lessons require humility to learn them. Humility only comes when accepting that one does not have everything and that the only way to gain a proper perspective is to accept other perspectives. It's okay to be confident. We're supposed to be sure of ourselves and our abilities. But we must always remember that even if we worked to acquire personal success, there is someone who helped us reach them that we must continue to acknowledge. That is how we help others. That is how teams reach goals. As for Irving himself, his play has gone to another level after that Orlando game. In the four games since, he's averaging over 30 points and over 10 assists, with each game he's played in resulting in a Celtics victory. Maybe that was the unnecessary weight he needed to discard in order to carry the responsibility he falsely understood. With this new perspective and humility, he's able to be better than he has all season.
- Sacramento Kings forward Harry Giles is healthy and contributing important bench minutes to the team. He's played double-figure minutes in each of the last 15 games, including scoring 11 points in the Kings' Monday night loss in Toronto. Giles isn't setting the NBA on fire, only averaging about six points a game. But after crippling knee issues that hindered his one year at Duke and hurt his draft stock, I hope he's finding his footing. He's certainly an NBA talent.
- Speaking of Monday, the NBA continued its celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by having a host of games played throughout the day. Dr. King was a true pioneer in the fight for civil rights and to end social injustices. While we still continue that fight, I commend the Association for acknowledging the state of our country and those who are and were on the right side of equality, trying to effect change.
- This week's Hooper Appreciation Blurb goes to Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson. Yes, Cleveland is a bad team now, but Clarkson has appeared to continue on improving, averaging 16.8 points per game coming off the bench. Clarkson was much maligned in last year's playoffs after Cleveland traded for him and his shot went awry in the postseason. Yes, he's getting opportunities because Cleveland doesn't have many scoring options, but he is a good player who is getting better and deserves credit for fighting his career after the struggle.
Fourteen weeks in, and we're still on the Journey. Happy NBA, folks.
Poemer. 8-time Hug Champion. Pick&Roll Enthusiast. Guardian of Logic and Tact. Apocalypse's good Brother. Collector of muted souls for Mt. Filtermanjaro.