Connect with us

The Rundown w/T-Money

The Rundown v5.11.23 – The Playoffs: One Day You’re the G.O.A.T., the Next Day You’re a Goat

The NBA playoffs this year are some of the best in recent memory. 

Heck, maybe even some of the best I’ve seen in my 58 years on this earth.

Monumental battles where established stars are living up to and beyond their reputations, and young guns are taking full advantage when their talents are needed.

Devin Booker. Kevin Durant. LeBron James. Anthony Davis. Jimmy Butler. Jalen Brunson. Nikola Jokic. Jamal Murray. Stephen Curry. Klay Thompson. Jaylen Brown. Jayson Tatum. James Harden. Joel Embiid.

As fans, we go through the highs and lows of emotion – elation and frustration – as the games endure 30-40 blowouts or make us chew our nails to the quick.

This isn’t the time for debate on who’s the greatest and who isn’t. 

One, that’s a generational conversation – any sane, objective, and reasonable fan knows that. And Two, if we’re having that argument after each performance, our argument only holds water until the next game is played.

After all, it’s been proven that one can join Wilt Chamberlain in playoff scoring history and still lose a game. And that’s a two-time MVP. Another two-time MVP can post a damned impressive triple-double and still lose a critical Game Four.

Stats like that, impressive as they may be, mean nothing if you’re the only one shouldering the load and a loss is the result.

Doesn’t mean that Curry or Jokic are any less MVPs, either in the league or for their respective team(s).

But fans are fickle bitches, and that’s on their best days. This quote from the movie ‘White Men Can’t Jump’ really sums up the crazy playoff battles we’ve seen … and fans’ crazy reactions when their icons win and lose:

If James has a game below 20 points or, God forbid, the Los Angeles Lakers lose as a result, he is vilified and trashed, despite a brilliant 20 year (and counting) career.

People get in over their heads with their obsession of their icons, armchair analysis, and – to a degree – living vicariously through professional athletes that they only see life through those misguided lenses.

It’s not the Los Angeles LeBrons, though some may argue that L.A. means LeBron and Anthony.

But let’s look at the Lakers’ wins in the playoffs to date: Davis, not James, has been the catalyst to their victories in all but one of the games. Monday night, as James would say, they don’t win without the 15 point fourth quarter effort from Lonnie Walker IV.

The Lakers, with the moves that Rob Pelinka made before and since the trade deadline, have become more of a team than they have a one- or two-dimensional side show.

They may be the most complete team remaining in the playoffs.

Denver is going to have to incorporate Michael Porter, Jr. (like they did on Tuesday night when Porter hit for 19 and eight) or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Bruce Brown helped the Nuggets also with 25 points off the bench to put Denver up 3-2.

New York needed to get everybody involved to avoid being eliminated by the play-in Heat. RJ Barrett and Julius Randle stepped up their respective games with 26 and 24 respectively, to pull the Knicks to 3-2 in the series. Brunson finished with a team-high 38, nine and seven.

Maybe the Knicks wanted it more last night.

Boston needs Marcus Smart and Al Horford to be more assertive, or we may see Brown follow Ime Udoka to Houston. The egg they laid in Boston gives the home court to Philadelphia to possibly close it out tonight. 

Might be a lot of twenty-twen-twens flying around Philly’s strip clubs tonight.

And it’ll be tough for Booker and Durant to carry the Phoenix Suns to their ‘expected’ championship, which to get there, they have to win two games against Denver with Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton questionable at best – are they on the trade block already?

Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokuonmpo spoke effusively and eloquently about disappointment versus failure after the Bucks were surprisingly eliminated, and their very successful head coach Mike Budenholzer was subsequently fired.

Antetokuonmpo is also a two-time MVP in this greatest player/most disappointing player run of emotions. Budenholzer was .693 coach (271-120) for crying out loud. Two time Coach of the Year. Once in Atlanta (2014-15) and again in Milwaukee (2018-19). Fired.

In fact, Nick Nurse won an NBA Championship with the Toronto Raptors in 2019. Fired. Frank Vogel won in 2020 in the Bubble with the Lakers. Fired. Budenholzer in 2021. Fired. Steve Kerr in 2022. Still has a job, but the Warriors are down 3-2 to the Lakers. 

Will Kerr be next if Golden State bows out?

While that’s doubtful, the mere mention of it shows that anything is possible in today’s NBA.

And when it comes to players, more will be goats than G.O.A.T.s, trust me.

As is the case every year, in every sport, there will only be one team standing when all is said and done.

And according to everything I see every day on social media and message boards …

It better damn well be LeBron James and the Lakers.


Tracy Graven is the Senior NBA Analyst for
He has written the NBA, done NBA Radio, and appeared as a guest for the last 21+ years for HoopsWorld, Swish Magazine, HoopsHype, the Coach Scott Fields Show,, and is also tackling the NFL, NCAA, and will be pinch-hitting on some Major League Baseball coverage for BackSportsPage.
He’s spent 21 years in locker rooms in Orlando, Boise (CBA, G League), San Antonio, Phoenix, Denver, Oklahoma City, and Atlanta. 

A corporate trainer by day, he currently resides in SEC Country near Knoxville, Tennessee.
Reach him on Twitter at @RealTMoneyMedia  

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Featured Articles

Featured Writers

More in The Rundown w/T-Money