Whether you like it or not, the Miami Heat will face off against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals. This should be quite a big ratings bonanza for ABC/ESPN. Why?
No. 1 - BOTH TEAMS ARE GREAT: In an age of mediocrity all over the league and the teams who were among the best (Lakers, Spurs, Celtics, Mavericks) aging, these are two teams who are both young and great. Both have their Big Threes. Both have personality. And we may be watching what could be the next Lakers-Celtics rivalry.
No. 2 - SCORING: Maybe these two aren't the highest scoring teams, they both know how to do it. This series will feature 3 of the top 5 scorers in the NBA during the regular season (Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook). If it wasn't for all those missed games that caused his scoring average not to qualify, Dwyane Wade's 26.4 ppg would have placed him 4th ... meaning 4 of the NBA's top 6 scorers are in this series. What that means is we have four guys that at any moment take over any game. We've seen all four of these guys do that at some point during this postseason.
Add in James Harden and Chris Bosh, and you've got two more cats that can light up a scoreboard.
No. 3 - HATING THE HEAT: Contrary to what people say or think, sports hate parity. Yes, it is great for the fanbases to watch their team have a chance to win, but it works a lot better when there is a team that everyone hates ... and that team is good. The Yankees, Cowboys and Lakers all give off that flavor as do the Patriots, Red Sox and ... yes ... the Heat. If the Thunder assume control of this series, all the Heat haters will make sure to watch the knife go into their heart.
No. 4 - LEBRON JAMES: No matter where on the spectrum you lie, you have a feeling about LeBron. You love him, you hate him, you feel sorry for him, you laugh at his struggles, you think he's great but he should be greater, you are tired of all the hype. No matter what happens, the lead story is LeBron. His quest for his first championship will be scrutinized whether he wins or loses. If he wins, was it he that led them or did he just do his thing? Was he clutch? Was he everything he should be as a champion? If they lose ... well you know the deal.
No. 5 - OTHER HATED PLAYERS: Maybe they aren't as hated, but guys like Wade, Harden, Mario Chalmers, Kendrick Perkins and Westbrook have their own haters.
No. 6 - KEVIN DURANT: He is the anti-LeBron to many people. A guy whose greatness hasn't gone to his head. A guy who doesn't want to leave his small market and believes he can win a title just where he is. A guy who does gloat about his greatness. A guy who could be on the track to a multi-championship career.
No. 7 - SUPER DUPER STARS FIGHTING FOR A TITLE: The main event is LeBron vs Durant for their first title. We really haven't seen anything like this in quite a while. I'd have to go back to 1980 to even approach this. Magic Johnson going up against Dr J's Sixers. Sure, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had won a title in Milwaukee in 1971 (like Wade won one in 2006), but history recalls this series as the one where Magic came up big for an injured Kareem and driving home a title. Magic could play the role of Durant, LeBron the role of Dr. J who previously lost in the Finals yet looking for his first title.
You could also look at 1977 when the young Portland Trail Blazers led by Bill Walton snuck into the Finals and took on that loaded Sixers squad.
Or you could say the 2006 Finals with Wade vs Dirk (aka Heat-Mavericks).
No. 8 - OKLAHOMA CITY FANS: Of course those OKC fans are rabid. There are a one horse town (meaning one pro team) that still have that new car smell. Charlotte was the same during the Hornets era of Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning. So was the Sacramento Kings in the early 2000s. There are few crowds in sports where you can feel the arena through the television. OKC is one of them, just as the Cameron Crazies, Red Sox, Yankees, Raiders and Saints are.
Still, you have to feel bad for Seattle.
No. 9 - WHAT ELSE ARE YOU GOING TO DO? The Stanley Cup will be decided in the next few days. Baseball is in its dog days. Your stuck in the middle of your fall shows ending and those summer ones starting up. The Euro 2012 soccer tournament is played during the daytime hours. All the Olympic stuff heats up in a few months. Might as well watch the Finals.
No. 10 - NO CALIFORNIA OR TEXAS: Low blow, but this will be the first Finals since 1998 that won't be held in either California or Texas. The Lakers, Spurs or Mavericks have been in every Finals since the Chicago Bulls beat the Utah Jazz for the second straight time.