Kyle Smedley is a journalism and telecommunications major and writes for The Daily News. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper.
I remember my first NBA Finals I ever watched. In fact, it was my first NBA game I remember watching in general.
It was Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals, yet another chapter in the historic Los Angeles Lakers V. Boston Celtics rivalry. I just so happened to watch the end of this contest in the basement of my aunt Suzanne and uncle Danny's house, as the Lakers defeated the Celtics in what would turn out to be the late Kobe Bryant’s final NBA Finals game.
I remember Bryant jumping on the scorer’s table, arms outstretched as confetti rained down on him and the Los Angeles faithful showered him with adoration as he won his fifth NBA Championship with the Purple and Gold. From there, I was hooked.
As the years progressed, basketball became my favorite sport. I had played since I was about four or five years old and I was raised around the sport. My father Chris and my grandfather Moe each coached high school basketball for a period of time, most notably winning a State Championship with Marion High School in 2000 as assisstant coach and head coach, respectively.
Kobe’s career began to wind down, and I began to adore yet another basketball icon, Lebron James. After the 2010 NBA Finals, Lebron appeared in every single NBA Finals from 2011-2018 and again in 2020.
I remember watching Lebron win his first NBA Championship in 2012 in a New York City hotel room, as his Miami Heat defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder. When he returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team that drafted him, in 2014, James embarked on a legendary run, as the Cavs and the Golden State Warriors faced off in the Finals four straight times.
The Warriors won three of the four (oh boy did I hate the Warriors), but my favorite moment in basketball history came in Game Seven of the one NBA Finals Lebron’s Cavaliers triumphed over Golden State. King James’ infamous block off the backboard late in the fourth quarter.
I played NBA2K constantly with my friends and I watched NBA YouTubers like CashNasty and Sixringsofsteel (who I still watch). I rooted hard for Indiana Pacers teams led by Paul George or Victor Oladipo.
I watched random games between teams I didn't care about, I watched the first NBA Awards Show that saw Russell Westbrook take home NBA MVP and I watched the All-Star Game. I was invested in the players and the storylines that engulfed each season and affected the next.
Man, I loved basketball and I loved the NBA.
However, at some point, the magic was just lost for me. I can’t pinpoint when it happened or what triggered it, but I no longer yearned to watch or play basketball like I once did.
I still played NBA2k and loved Lebron, but it wasn’t the same. I’d still text in a group chat with my friends Hunter and Miles about current happenings in the NBA, but I was less engaged.
With that, I’ve noticed many other peers of mine have experienced the same disconnect. No one is really sure why, at least from who I’ve spoken to.
The athletes are still as great as ever, with the likes of Giannis Antetekunmpo and Nikola Jokic running the league. The great stories can still be found, as the Golden State Warriors are back in the NBA Finals in 2022, turning back to their roots with homegrown talent and the original big three of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green back to lead the young crop of Warriors.
Speaking of the NBA Finals, that’s what started my love for basketball, at least from an NBA standpoint. I loved the sport and high school basketball my whole life before that, but watching #24 lead the Lakers to victory led me to become more interested in the NBA.
Now, I’m still not as engaged as I once was, but now I’m trying to make the effort to rekindle that love. Truth be told, over the last few years, that effort hasn’t been there and I’ve embraced my disconnect.
Yes, I’ve stayed up to date, I know most of the players in the league and still follow along with how each season goes on social media, but I usually only watch about two full games per season. It’s sad to say about what was my favorite sport at one time.
I want to give the NBA my attention and adoration again. What better place to start than the NBA Finals, 12 years later?
The Warriors are set to take on the Boston Celtics in Game One of the 2022 NBA Finals June 2 at 9 p.m. ET. Based on the talent alone, Curry, Jayson Tatum, Thompson, Jaylen Brown, Green, Marcus Smart, Andrew Wiggins, Al Horford and Jordan Poole, it should be enough to spark my interest again.
Not only that, but this is a NBA Finals matchup that hasn’t been seen since 1964, so this is fresh and has potential to be as exciting as the NBA's glory days. I’m choosing to go into 2022’s Finals with an open mind and memories of my beloved past.
For others who have drifted as well, will you? There's nothing quite like rekindling an old flame.