"Nobody kills him, but me."
This trope is used in narratives to show the ultimate loathing between two parties. Tension becomes so high that one won't even allow their rival to fall onto another's sword. The two are bound by to meet in a battlefield, mano y mano. Anything else would seem cheap.
To put it in Spurs perspective, what if the Spurs had beaten the Indiana Pacers in the 2014 Finals? The Spurs go on a Liam Neeson like revenge quest only to play Indiana!?!? How robbed would we all have been? It had to be the Heat. The Spurs needed to stand over the Heat's lifeless corpse.
Imagine if someone other than Daniel-son had ended Johnny and the despicable Cobra Kai. And what if Mel Gibson had not been allowed to stab Tavington in the heart in the Patriot? How unsatisfied would you feel? Tavington killed TWO of his sons! An ending where Mel Gibson is informed that Tavington has died of dysentery...no thanks.
This is how I feel watching the Oklahoma City Thunder this year. It's an unfitting end to a great villain. They deserve better.
It's unsatisfying. I can't stand watching them wounded and suffering. I hate that something like injuries has caused their undoing. I am begging for them to get up. I am praying for miracles. All so they can rise and fail at the hand of the Spurs.
I don't like the Thunder and if we're being honest, most of it comes from jealousy. I know, it's tough to be jealous as a Spurs fan. But, for a while it looked like the Thunder had hit the jackpot in a way that even the Spurs hadn't. A small market team that had three or four homegrown superstars in Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka. That just felt like straight cheating.
The Thunder became villains because they stole another city's franchise and moved to Oklahoma of all places. Then they turned out to be amazing. Then a ton of people from Texas decided to become Thunder Fans because Kevin Durant had stopped into Austin for a year. Then everyone said they were such nice guys. Then they became not nice guys and started hating the media. Kevin Durant even turned heel on the public this year in the same way a great wrestler would, starting with his bitter tweets about Kawhi being a system player in the Finals. A great heel turn is supposed to invoke rage from fans and KD did just that. Watch Hulk Hogan join the NWO for reference. I'll admit I wanted to watch Durant get power bombed through a table a few times in the past 12 months. But mostly, they’re villains because they aren’t the Spurs and I don’t like anyone who isn’t the Spurs. And teams who have potential to beat the Spurs make me mad and sad. But, through it all...I was jealous.
My jealousy started in 2012 when an under-23 Thunder team knocked out the Spurs. The Spurs were playing the best basketball I'd ever seen. You know the story, 20 straight wins, yada, yada. Then it was over.
Even though the Miami Heat dispatched the Thunder in 5 games in the Finals, as Harden stood with his arms around Westbrook and Durant's necks, I thought to myself "oh no...they're going to do this forever." I was terrified they were going to make everyone forget about the Spurs.
Three years later and we're at an entirely different place. The Spurs have risen like a phoenix to the greatest heights in their franchise history, firmly securing their place in basketball lore. While the Thunder (who no longer have James Harden, as you probably know) are fighting and clawing to make the 8 seed in the West. They still haven't won a title and there's legitimately a "curse of the bambino" brewing in OKC. Could it be the dubbed the "Curse of the Beardino?"
Russell Westbrook has been awe inspiring this year. He's been the greatest thing to watch in basketball. He's literally played every game like it's a game 7. You have to root for that. But, we are starting to see that never ending engine sputter. The tank looks like it might be nearing E.
At one point in the first half of the Spurs' blowout victory in OKC, Westbrook drove into the lane for a death defying layup, crashing and tearing his way to the hole. It was a play that has defined him over the years. He displays no regard for himself or anyone else. These plays have resulted in highlight reel clips throughout the majority of this season. This time, the ball never even touched the rim. It careened off the backboard and went back the other way with a sea of black jerseys.
It made me realize how battered the Thunder are. There was no Durant to hit an efficient shot on the next trip and no Serge Ibaka to clean up the mistake. It was just Westbrook. Army crawling through the mud, trying to muster enough strength to take his team with him. And I want them to get up. Just like I want the Spurs to beat the Thunder, if someone is going to beat the Spurs, it has to be them.
It was so satisfying to beat the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals. Most Spurs fans knew that the Spurs could beat the Heat, but I had serious doubts about the Thunder. Their athleticism and recklessness is intimidating to a team that's so orchestrated. The Thunder are the only team that I've ever felt can truly intimidate the Spurs. But, the Spurs won. They cut, sliced and carved the Thunder to pieces.
Everyone thought that it was a collision course to another slobber-knocker. A best of three, if you will. Where the two foes would slug it out again. Which makes watching Durant getting taken down by a bone in his foot so depressing. He needs to have the ball stolen from him by Kawhi Leonard on the final possession of the Western Conference Finals.
If you're wearing a black hat, the cowboy with the white hat shoots you. It's just the way it works. The villain can't be poisoned by a thorn. Now the Spurs are left kicking dust, awaiting another worthwhile foe. We're on the verge of a great rivalry, but the final showdown between OKC and the Spurs may never come.
What a shame.