In the waning moments of Cleveland’s victory over Indiana Monday night, LeBron emphatically threw a Myles Turner would-be layup out of bounds. It was an awesome play from an awesomely athletic freak. He then stood under the basketball shaking his head viciously at Myles Turner, as if to say Turner was an idiot sandwich (s/o to Mark) for even attempting such a shot on the King. In this nascent series, THIS was the defining moment. It was cool, and LeBron’s head-shaking is seemingly already a meme.
If you like LeBron, you probably love this competitive fire. He literally just taunted the SHIT out of Turner. If you hate LeBron, well, you might say, “ugh he’s cocky!” Or something. (Hint: I like LeBron, so this moment was AWESOME!).
Then there’s my man Skip Bayless. I’ve written generally about Skip before, but here I want to pinpoint an exact maneuver. Bayless tweeted THIS after that above moment:
“How can LeBron showboat after a fairly routine block when he and his team have allowed a terribly average team back into this game???” – @RealSkipBayless
Skip has this uncanny ability to turn everything AWESOME LeBron does into something UTTERLY HORRIBLE.
LeBron making an awesome play is countered with “ugh you’re so stupid for showboating!”
When LeBron makes a half-courter for the win in the 2020 NBA Finals, it will be “ugh! He should have shot that from 75 feet! Wimp!”
When LeBron blocks Andrew Wiggins into the 5th row to secure the 2029 NBA Finals (Yes, he will still be dominating), Skip will tweet “Why not the 6th row? Is LeBron deteriorating before OUR very eyes???”
You get the point. Skip is silly, and any play or event that doesn’t fit his predetermined narrative must be spun in such a fashion so that it slides right into his narrative. It’s what makes Skip so insufferable to listen to – intelligent broadcasters alter their opinions and takes based on events. They admit when they’re wrong, and are self-deprecating and self-aware enough to even work it into their shows.
Skip? Nah. Skip is never wrong, because Skip is a spin cycle guru. When LeBron wins his 14th title, Skip will still judge historical greatness by NBA Finals Winning Percentage. He’s stubborn, but like I’ve said before, that’s his schtick, and it seems to work for him.
Anyways, Skip’s pick this year is San Antonio over Cleveland in the NBA Finals. He believes it SO STRONGLY that tonight he tweeted something along the lines of “watch out LeBron, Kawhi is coming” seemingly ignoring the fact that the Spurs, in order to reach a point in the playoffs where they’d possibly play Cleveland, would have to beat the 67-win Golden State Warriors, who possess 4 of the top-15 or so players in the NBA.
I do this a lot, but I’m going to ask you again to join me in a hypothetical world where Golden State beats San Antonio in 5 in the Western Conference Finals. Here, the Warriors win Games 1 and 2 at home by 12 and 16 points respectively; the Spurs steal game 3 at home after a 39-point effort from behind, but drop Game 4 on a Curry buzzer-beater; then, eventually, Golden State wins Game 5 at Oracle by an 8 point cushion.
Does any of that sound particularly unreasonable? No, it doesn’t. So I got thinking. Obviously, if this were to occur, Skip would then be WRONG. But, remember, Skip is NEVER wrong. So, he’d have to spin it. Here’s a look at a couple ways Skip could spin this:
1. “Stephen Curry is on steroids”
Steph’s numbers have regressed ever so slightly to the mean this year, but in the 5-game series outlined above, Steph averages 36 ppg, headlined by a 28-foot game-winner in Game 4 in San Antonio. After that game, Steph seemingly disappears quickly before the postgame interview, and appears to be shuffled immediately to the locker room by NBA officials.
Skip, realizing his Spurs are down 3-1 and heading back to Oracle, tweets something like:
“Hmm.. Steph buries game-winner and then is shuffled into the locker room… For a drug test, maybe?”
That tweet is only one of several where Skip insinuates that actually steroids are to credit for Curry’s explosion.
The next day at shoot around, Curry delivers only nondescript answers when inquired about his absence. This only fuels Skip’s fire as he rampages against the NBA insisting that Curry was drug tested and FAILED but the NBA covered it up because they didn’t want to take Curry off the biggest stage.
(We’d come to learn later that Steph was hurriedly shuffled off the floor because his young daughter, Riley, had come down with severe food poisoning. She’d be alright after a couple nights in the hospital, but the NBA and Ayesha wanted to make sure Steph was made immediately aware after the game. This explains Steph’s unwillingness to discuss the situation at the shoot around the next day, as this was a sensitive, private family matter.)
For the next two weeks and throughout the Warriors title run, Skip crusades against the league, explaining that the Dubs would never be in this position if it was not for the NBA-wide conspiracy. Eventually, about 2 weeks after the Warriors hoist the trophy and NFL training camp is around the corner, Skip drops his incessant Twitter barrage. Two weeks later than that, the above story outlining the reality behind Curry’s absence is publicized, but by then most media personalities and NBA general public has forgotten about Skip’s crusade, so once again, Skip’s idiocy slides under the radar.
To recap, Skip is not technically wrong about the Spurs because the Warriors needed a roided-up Steph to topple the almighty Spurs.
2. “Kawhi’s actually injured”
This potential scenario is entirely more plausible. Aside from his 39-point outburst in a Game 3 win, Kawhi simply wasn’t himself in the series. Most basketball junkies credit this to Klay Thompson and Draymond Green’s top-tier isolation defense, but not Skip!
Skip insists that Kawhi Leonard actually didn’t have any lift off his left leg – a calf injury of sorts.
“The Warriors won in 5, but ONLY because Kawhi was ineffective because of a CHEAP kick by Draymond early in Game 1!”
Yes, Skip asserts that on a normal basketball play, Draymond kicked Kawhi and somehow subsequently pulled Kawhi’s calf, and that’s why the Spurs didn’t win.
Kawhi, who has never outwardly approached a media member, ever, reaches out to Skip several days after the Spurs elimination explaining, “No, Skip, my calf isn’t injured. We were just severely outplayed by Golden State and we’re using that as fire for next year. I don’t want excuses.”
To that, Skip replied, “Shh Kawhi I know that’s just your injured calf talking, shhh… it’s ok, Kawhi, I’ve got you, everything’s gonna be ok.” He then awkwardly reached out to hug Kawhi, but Kawhi refused, and also looked rather confused and mildly creeped out.
“I don’t know what the hell that guy’s deal is, man. My calf is fine,” Kawhi said later.
Basically, Skip was once again NOT wrong because the Spurs would have beaten Golden State if not for Draymond kicking Kawhi early in Game 1.
3. “Patty Mills was actually throwing the series!”
In my final and personal favorite of all potential Bayless spins, Skip accuses Patty Mills of THROWING THE ENTIRE SERIES.
“Patty Mills: 2/14 from three, 5 assists, 14 turnovers over 5 games??? HE CLEARLY HAD OTHER INTERESTS” Bayless would tweet immediately after the Spurs’ game 5 defeat.
Other Tweets would include:
“Michael Jordan would never have thrown an entire series!”
“I knew Steph Curry was only better than Patty Mills if Patty Mills was intentionally playing poorly!”
“I bet LeBron has been working with Vegas sharps for years! THAT’S WHY HE’S BEEN SO GREAT!”
In an interview with 60 Minutes, Mills would explain “I don’t really know who that Skip guy is, but if I were going to throw the series, I would have gone 0/14 from three. Seriously, I just wasn’t myself. They buried Steph on Manu defensively, so I was dealing with Klay Thompson most of the series and he just took me out of my game. Really, no excuses, just played poorly. Can you imagine what Pop would do to me if he found out I was throwing games? Haha, yea he’d burn me at the stake. No, seriously, he would. Ok, no, really, he scares me.”
Skip would retort: “Of course Mills won’t ADMIT to it, but it was SO OBVIOUS that he had NO INTEREST in winning those games!”
(A staple of Bayless’ tweets is to randomly capitalize entire words for dramatic effect).
So, here, Skip is not wrong because the Spurs only lost the series because the Spurs point guard was dabbling in illegal gambling activity.