The dream is set: Kevin Durant‘s New York Knicks taking on LeBron James‘s Los Angeles Lakers for all the marbles at the 2020 NBA Finals.
Spike Lee is stretching, just aching for the tip-off. He glares with a smirk over at a familiar face on the other side of the court. TNT’s Reggie Miller is in the building, of course, doing something for the hoops cause.
No matter, though; Twenty-one years separate Spike’s last NBA Finals front-row seat in the Garden and not even a choke sign and crotch grab could screw with this special evening.
Jack Nicholson made the trip. There was no way in hell Jack would miss out on such a tremendous basketball celebration. Besides, it’s Broadway, baby.
Every familiar noise and song can be heard with the two teams ready to commence Game 1 after LeBron James’s signature chalk throw at the scorer’s desk.
Everybody in the building cannot believe their eyes. Madison Square Garden is back.
Finally, the NBA is back in big-market business. At last, it’s the Big Apple and La La Land, Broadway and Hollywood, New York and Los Angeles, the Knicks and the Lakers, KD and The King.
The 2020 NBA Finals featuring the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers is not just a worthwhile fantasy dreams are made of; it’s a legitimate possibility.
How It Can Happen
The first key is obvious: Kevin Durant must accept the greatest challenge of his career.
If Durant chooses New York, he takes on the impossible feat that is turning the Knickerbockers relevant. He becomes a James Dolan employee, which is interesting in its own right. We know who Dolan is. Perhaps the sometimes sensitive Cablevision boss is relatable in the eyes of the NBA’s top free agent prize.
Most importantly, if the Texas product doubles-down on the challenge, Durant takes on playing in a much weaker conference. A nucleus of Durant, Kyrie Irving, RJ Barrett, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson and Dennis Smith Jr. would absolutely possess an NBA Finals shot.
The Toronto Raptors future hinges on Kawhi Leonard. The Boston Celtics remain one of the greatest current mysteries. The Philadelphia 76ers aren’t disappearing anytime soon, yet have proven nothing up to this moment.
A sole KD-to-the-Knicks move shakes the East to its core.
For L.A., Anthony Davis is the ticket. New Orleans Pelicans owner Gayle Benson isn’t doing the Lakers any favors. We understand this. Per Jackie MacMullen of ESPN, Benson has been quoted as saying, “Over my dead body” via trading AD to the gold-wearing squad in Hollywood.
“We have been told, I think, through channels – most of us have heard this same scuttlebutt – that Gayle Benson has basically told [new general manager David Griffin], ‘To the Lakers, over my dead body.'”
But there’s no way that sentiment, if true, will ever serve as the deciding factor. If the Lakers package beats the rest of the offers, Davis may very well turn Laker. In fact, Los Angeles remains the favorites for The Brow’s services, per Odds Shark.
And remember, David Griffin is extremely familiar with LeBron. While that doesn’t necessarily equal anything on face value through conventional front office channels, we may as well label James as part owner of the entire show.
Furthermore, Davis has not relented on his trade request, despite the franchise snagging the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming 2019 NBA Draft, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
While New Orleans Pelicans executive Vice President David Griffin and All-Star Anthony Davis‘ agent Rich Paul will continue discussions, it’s highly unlikely Davis‘ stance changes on trade, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) May 29, 2019
Talk about the supporting cast all you want; a LeBron-AD duo immediately thrusts the Lakers into West contention.
How They Get There
Yeah, the Knicks possess homecourt advantage. Nicholson made the trip for Game 1.
New York finished with the second-best record in the East. With 55 victories, only the Kawhi-led Toronto Raptors finished ahead. Durant’s season, featuring 30.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.1 assists per night on a cool .485 clip from the field (naturally down a little from his .521 field goal percentage in 2018-19), earned him his second NBA MVP call-out.
Only a hard-fought Eastern Conference Finals north of the border stands between New York and its first finals appearance since 1999.
The Lakers, on the other hand, use LeBron’s postseason greatness. In an uncharacteristic Association move, the No. 3 seeded Lakers stun the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.
New York and Los Angeles need no sales pitch. The Knicks and the Lakers, again … forget about it. But the real payoff is realized through the studs.
Durant’s constant quest that is dethroning LeBron as the best player in the game finally comes to a head in the 2020 NBA Finals.
In Golden State, he has no shot to move the needle in this regard. With Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, DeMarcus Cousins and an embarrassment of riches in tow, it wouldn’t matter if Durant ripped off five-straight titles.
An impressive Knicks conquest is his route to changing the status quo. His leading the Knicks back to relevancy while stamping New York as the happening NBA city once again provides him that one true challenge and opportunity to dethrone the rightful king.
So on a warm, muggy June night in Manhattan, mid-town is buzzing. It feels like 1994 with Jetsons-type technology the physical-era crowd could never imagine. Game 1 of the 2020 NBA Finals is here and it’ll always feel like a dream (even through its conclusion).
The Big Apple and La La Land. Broadway and Hollywood. New York and Los Angeles. The Knicks and the Lakers. KD and LBJ. Welcome to NBA heaven, the 2020 NBA Finals: the New York Knicks and the Los Angeles Lakers.
All the city needs is a little KD. It needs the attitude and maniacal work ethic that comes with taking on the New York challenge.