by Connor Witt
For the duration of my stint at the Catholic-affiliated Santa Clara University, the emphasis on faith has been undeniable. Whether I was flipping though the pages of St. Augustine's Confessions, studying up on the Spanish Inquisition, or up to some other shenanigans because we had school off for Good Friday, religion has been a constant. I really have no grounds to complain about my time at Santa Clara, but there is one aspect that has always been frustrating: for me, religion always seems to raise more questions than it answers! I can’t seem to get anything definitive.
As far as my education is concerned, raising more questions is good. Its supposed to build character, develop critical thinking skills, makes me more aware, etc. But sometimes in this life, I need something concrete. And that, of course, is where my beloved sport of basketball comes in.
In a world of such uncertainty, hoops provides answers.
Who led the league in scoring? Kevin Durant with 27.7 PPG. Was Tom Thibodeau a good hire for Chicago? Definitely, he preached defense to the Bulls, led them to 62 victories, and won Coach of the Year. What happened to the Spurs in the post-season? Ginobili wasn't at full strength due to his elbow injury, Zach Randolph went off, and they couldn't match Memphis' athleticism. It's all subjective stuff.
This years finals should have been no different. When the horn sounded to conclude Game 6, the scoreboard read, “Dallas: 105, Miami: 95.” The Mavericks had taken the series four games to two. The obvious choice, Dirk Nowitzki, was awarded the Finals MVP. There is no room for debate about those facts.
But in this rare instance, the facts didn’t cut it. Though the Mavs deserve all the praise they receive -- they were unquestionably the better team in the Finals -- the close of the series didn’t offer any real sense of closure for me. It, too, raised more questions than answers.
I had high hopes of posting an article as soon as I could after last Sunday’s Game 6
so I could pretend like I was actually a reputable writer while my impressions of the contest were still ripe. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I didn’t have a goddamn clue what I had just witnessed.
Over the past few days I’ve been trying to pick the brains of anyone with the slightest interest in basketball to get their take on what went down in the Finals. I heard plenty of LeBron-related insults (“How’s my Dirk taste, LeBron?” being among the most colorful) but nothing that got me any closer to understanding these Finals.
It wasn’t until the other evening when I was sitting outside grilling up some hearty sausages at my friend Richard’s house that his father sparked my imagination. We had been discussing how LeBron’s game more closely resembled Scottie Pippen’s than Michael Jordan’s. It was then that Richard’s pops, Don (quite the hooper in his day) theorized that LeBron was cursed after Pippen suggested during a radio interview that LeBron may very well be better than Jordan. And then something clicked in my mind and it all made sense.
After so much confusion over the one sport that always provides me with answers, I had to turn to the least likely of sources in order to comprehend LeBron’s implosion. That source: the divine. But in this case, the religion of old had manifested in a modern day saga featuring His Airness. Michael Jordan cursed LeBron James, and spurred his stumbles in the Finals!
Despite the endless the praise that Jordan has received over the years for his heroics as a player, apparently we’ve been selling his abilities short. Sure, he could sky for free-throw line slams, perform trickery, and
defy the limits of the human tongue rain threes, but it seems Jordan’s omnipotence (23-point Scrabble word. Coincidence? I think not) was not limited to the basketball court. We knew Jordan could perform miracles already, but never before had we seen him exercise his holy will by putting a curse on another player. Come on though; is this really a surprise to anyone? We’ve been treating Jordan like a God for quite a while now.
(Forgive me for my current 3-article streak of outrageous basketball theories. But honestly, this hypothesis is probably no less valid of an explanation for LeBron’s poor play than the story swirling that LeBron’s girlfriend is cheating with Rashard Lewis.)
Let’s continue with this whole basketball/biblical relationship, shall we?
So Scottie Pippen is something like a modern day version of the New Testament’s Judas. The story goes that Judas was responsible for the betrayal of Jesus because he spoke false words about him, leading to his demise (sound familiar, LeBron?)
It would be easy for me to plug LeBron in here and call him the Jesus of this analogy, but it’s probably too bold of me to another article in which I proclaim a player to be the NBA’s messiah after doing so just a month ago with Basketball Jesus, Pt. 2.
But, who knows. Like Dirk, perhaps he could rebound from a surprising Finals loss and become Basketball Jesus, Pt. 3.