Following the NBA Finals, the buzz around the league was centered around competitive balance and whether the Golden State Warriors were “bad for the game.”
As we head into free agency, the gap between the Warriors and the rest of the league may grow as some teams will look to wait out a potential Warriors dynasty before fully committing to taking on large salaries.
But during Monday night’s Awards Show, much of that talk was forgotten and we were all reminded why the NBA is the best league in sports.
From the stellar play on the court to the captivating drama off of it, the league is bubbling with so much talent and personality it’s almost overwhelming. Think about all the great players we just saw in the Finals.
Yeah, none of them were even up for the MVP award.
Heading into the night, I was unsure if a show like this could succeed, but it got off to a fast start after Drake roasted almost all of the league’s top players. He also threw in this joke which definitely made everyone sit up in there seat,
“Having the NBA Awards on a different coast the day after the BET Awards is crazy, black people haven’t been this exhausted in 200 years,” said Drake, who pranced around the stage looking completely smitten with himself.
Drake did a solid job hosting but he got a big boost from Ernie Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, and Kenny Smith. The ‘Inside the NBA’ crew was able to keep things light while Barkley and O’Neal executed their typical back-and-forth.
During the show we learned that newly minted MVP Russell Westbrook is a master sub-tweeter. After winning the award, he called a number of his Thunder teammates on stage and made sure everyone knew those players were “his brothers.”
“These are my guys, man,” Westbrook told the crowd.
Kevin Durant used a similar tactic when he won the award in 2014, calling each player by name and telling them what they meant to him.
Following the award, Thunder forward Enes Kanter tweeted a picture with Russell Westbrook saying, “No! No! No! You are the Real MVP!” a clear shot at Durant who told his mother in 2014 that she was “The Real MVP.”
No! No! No!
You Are The Real MVP…! pic.twitter.com/h8SE9XdgNT
— Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) June 27, 2017
Kanter, a slow-footed behemoth who has been unable to stay on the court for long stretches during the playoffs, has had some choice words for Durant on Twitter since he left OKC.
The NBA presented Celtics great Bill Russell with a lifetime achievement award, not only for his role in winning 11 titles, but also his heroic work off the court fighting for civil rights.
On stage he told Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, Shaquille O’Neal, and David Robinson, “I would kick your ass” to raucous applause. It was a special moment and one that showed the NBA is a big family, one that looks after its former players and delivers special moments to its fans.
From the Warriors skit, which spoofed the hit movie Get Out, to the seductive performance of Nicki Minaj, the league proved once again why they are really all about the culture. I was skeptical about the first Awards Show and feared it might be fall flat on its face, but it passed the initial test with flying colors.
So when can we start the season?