By Connor Buestad
One inch. This is all that separated Butler University Swingman Gordan Hayward from owning the single greatest shot the game of basketball has ever seen. When Hayward let fly from half court, the nation’s heart skipped a collective beat. When it missed by that much, March Madness viewers were left to pick up their jaws from the floor and move on, emotionally drained from what proved to be a tournament for the ages.
In my eyes, there really isn’t an argument in regards to what is a better sport, NCAA hoops or NBA basketball. To me, the answer is unquestionably college hoops. The tradition, the slimy coaches, the mid-majors, I love it all. It’s just unbeatable. With that said, however, I must concede that the NBA is putting out a pretty darn good product as of late, and because of this, I plan on paying attention to the 2010 Playoffs with more than just a passive interest.
For as much as I adore watching March Madness, I must concede the fact that the watered down product the college game now features is nowhere near the level of the NBA. With all due respect to Jon Scheyer and Kyle Singler, the talent in the college game is just not there anymore.
Fortunately, you can turn your attention to the Association this weekend and the talent will not only be there, it will be blinding. Virtually every team in the Playoffs will be featuring a superstar that has the ability to take over games in a plethora of ways. LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Brandon Jennings, Dwight Howard, Dwayne Wade, Steve Nash, Derrick Rose, Luke Ridnour (oops). Not only is this group of players incredibly athletic and fun to watch, but the majority of them are all in the prime of their careers, hungry for a championship and ready to put on a show for the masses.
Perhaps the player with the wettest appetite for a title is LeBron James. Compared to Michael Jordan incessantly, James needs to prove to the world he can win the big one before he can truly give His Ariness a run for his money. Personally, I am fascinated by LeBron because it seems as though he literally possess unlimited potential, almost as if he is a cartoon character. If you tell me there is something this man can’t do, I’d be hard pressed to believe you, simple as that.
The fact that LeBron goes 6’8’’ 250 and runs like a gazelle is just flat-out amazing. His jump shot is dead on, his passing skills are Larry Bird-esque, and his smile is seemingly taylor made for Nike. Add up all of these attributes and what do you have? A player that finds himself in a dogfight to get off the schnide and win his first title. Tough league, huh?
Now, are the NBA playoffs my favorite sporting event of the year, absolutely not. The Little League World Series is, of course. However, this does not mean the next month is not going to provide some excellent drama. Maybe not in the form of buzzer-beaters and bracket busters so much, but certainly in the sky-high level of play.
As someone who was captivated by MJ as he mowed through the league on his way to 6 championships, there is a large part of me that wants LeBron to take the world on a similar ride. The only thing that might stand in his way is a league that is simply too talented. As a basketball fan, I’d venture to say that too much talent in the league is a good problem to have. Should be interesting to see how this all shakes out come June…