Basketball Beef, it’s what’s for dinner

Why is the NBA the best league in the country? I would say world, but I am no soccer savant so I would be stepping out my lane to make a claim I can’t directly back up.

The answer to the question – outside of the spectacular moments, highlight plays, and fashion statements in the tunnel – is drama.

Of course I do realize that the NBA brought together the banana boat bros and the player empowerment era has encouraged the formation of super teams.

You can take or leave these pleasant parts of the association, but what really makes it interesting in the latter portion of the season in the post trade deadline and All-Star break doldrums is the drama and rivalries that give the NBA that extra juice for the playoff push. One could argue that in the buddy-buddy NBA where players swap jerseys on a random Tuesday in December that the drama doesn’t exist. It may not permeate the league like it did in the 90’s, but have no fear, it is still there.

Player’s – especially the great ones – don’t appreciate being slighted.

On Friday, a Rachel Nichols interview with James Harden was released. In the interview, she asked Harden how he felt about reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo selecting Kemba Walker over him in the All-Star draft. Now, this would be a very harmless question if it weren’t for the fact that Giannis verbalized that he was selecting Walker because he wanted a teammate who would actually pass the ball.

Harden responded as cooly as he could, but you can tell that the comments hit a nerve. Instead of just moving on with some coach-speak, Harden downplayed Giannis’ overall game by saying that he wishes that he was seven feet tall and all he had to do was dunk, which takes no skill according to Harden. If that wasn’t enough, the icing on the cake was defending himself by saying that he is averaging more assists than Walker anyway.

Could his terse teammate Russell Westbrook be rubbing off on him? If so, I’m here for it. There are entire TV shows and a whole genre of sport created around scripted dramas written out thoughtfully and carefully.

This is better than that. Better than Lance Stephenson blowing in LeBron’s ear or shimmying after hitting a shot. When the leaders of the league and the top players start to get chippy with each other, then we are cooking with grease.

My only request is that Giannis won’t simply let this pass along as water under the bridge. Whether on the court or off, I want to see some extra emotion injected into the situation. Right now it appears we may be witnessing a cease fire, but I hope that isn’t the case.

Keep the NBA fun. Bring on the Beef.

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