Now the truth can be told: I was a little worried. Despite my complete confidence in Steve Kerr and the other people who get paid by Joe Lacob to think about basketball full-time, my stomach was churning as I sat in my barstool at Sidelines waiting for the game to start. And I don’t think it was just the sketchy Mexican food I had for dinner.
This pressure-cooker of the NBA Finals is really intense. And all I have to do is drink whiskey and occasionally shout something encouraging at the TV screen. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a person who actually has to play in these games.
A person like Andre Iguodala, who apparently defines “pressure” as “something that motivates you to be the best possible version of yourself.” Starting his first game of the season, Andre a) defended LeBron James as well as it’s possible to defend him, b) dropped in 22 big, big points, and c) did it all rather, um, cavalierly, like it was just another day at the office. Like he had been killing time waiting for this moment, and was just glad it had finally arrived.
LeBron played most of the game with a big, circular slice in his head after tumbling into a courtside camera. And he didn’t quite look like himself, though I don’t know if that was because of the injury or because he finally ran out of gas after carrying the team on his back for the whole series. In a pregame interview I saw he admitted that he hadn’t been sleeping, he had too much on his mind, and eventually that’s going to catch up with you. (Maybe he should try The Sleeping Tapes.)
Wardell Stephen Curry III, meanwhile, had a very curious game. After he lit it up in the 4th quarter of Game 3, I assumed he would come out with guns blazing. Instead, he was almost pathologically selfless, giving up the ball every time he was trapped and creating numerous 4-on-3 opportunities for his teammates. I assume that this was a conscious decision made in tandem with Coach Kerr, and it raises an interesting question: Who is, in the end, more valuable – the guy who tries to do it all and ends up burning himself out, or the guy who defers to a team concept and trusts his fellow professionals to get it done?
Answer: the guy whose team wins, that’s who.
Game 5 is Sunday.