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ONE-ON-ONE: Last week, NBC Sports’ Tom Haberstroh dropped a fascinating article about how close Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaquille O’Neal came to playing a game of one-on-one on pay-per-view television all the way back in 1995, in what could have been a watershed moment for the Association. Unfortunately, it fell through at the last second, but it got us to thinking…
If a similar concept were brought up today, what one-on-one showdowns would we most want to see? So we came up with the seven most interesting matchups featuring modern NBA stars we could think of – six undercard style one-on-one games and the seventh, the main event. Let’s get right to it.
–Damian Lillard vs. Russell Westbrook: What better way to lead off the evening than with a matchup featuring two of the most explosive point guards in the game today, and two guys who have had some in-game beef in the past. Lillard famously hit a deep dagger in Game 5 of the 2019 playoffs’ first-round that sent Westbrook’s OKC team home, waving goodbye to the Thunder immediately after hitting the shot. Westbrook surely hasn’t forgotten about that, making this theoretical matchup a spicy one.
–Jimmy Butler vs. TJ Warren: The closest two high-level players came to actually throwing blows at each other this season came back in early January when Butler and Warren had to be separated by teammates before a fight broke out. We didn’t get to see another Heat-Pacers matchup after that, so to see a true culmination to this dust-up, Butler and Warren’s fictitious one-on-one showdown will have to do.
–Stephen Curry vs. Trae Young: Second-year Hawks guard Trae Young has been absolutely balling since reaching the NBA last season, and the most common comparison he gets, for obvious reasons (size, shiftiness and shooting ability), is Steph Curry. It would be absolutely awesome to see this teacher-versus-apprentice style matchup.
–James Harden vs. Luka Doncic: Another fascinating showdown between an established superstar and a young stud with a similar game, Harden and Doncic wouldn’t include much defense, but the offensive firepower the two ball-handling maestros would throw at each other would more than make up for that.
–Boban Marjanovic vs. Tacko Fall: After that many hotly contested matchups, we’re going to need a bit of relief to get our heart rates down ahead of the co-main event and main event. And a game of one-on-one featuring the two tallest players in the league, both of whom are absolutely adored by fans despite their limited skill sets, would be the perfect such remedy.
–Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. Kevin Durant: Two former league MVPs, the two tallest superstar-level wings in basketball and two players whose highly skilled games don’t make sense physically, Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. Kevin Durant makes for a fantastic co-main event. Will Durant come ahead, proving he’s still the best supersized superstar wing in the league after a year-long injury layoff? Or will Antetokounmpo win and show that that title belongs to him now? We’d love to find out.
–LeBron James vs. Kawhi Leonard: The battle for supremacy in Los Angeles bleeds out of the NBA season and into the main event of our card in a showdown featuring four-time league MVP LeBron James and two-time Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. As if this main event couldn’t be any more gripping just basketball-wise, there’s even history here, with Leonard coming out on top over LeBron’s Heat in the 2014 Finals, as well as with Kawhi spurning the Lakers’ recruitment efforts and choosing the Clippers last summer. Boy, the money we’d shell out to actually see these guys get after it against one another in a game of one-on-one.
CORONA UPDATE: As the league gets closer and closer to a possible resumption to the 2019-20 season, and it looks like there’s real momentum towards that actually happening, we were hit with the unfortunate news that league legend Patrick Ewing has been diagnosed with the illness. Our thoughts are with Ewing at this time.
ANOTHER LEGEND GONE: Outpouring of love and support came from all over the place after it was announced that legendary Utah Jazz head coach and Chicago Bulls guard Jerry Sloan had succumbed to Parkinson’s disease. Rest in peace, Coach Sloan.
ALL-STAR DREAMS: The Nets reportedly have interest in adding a third star ahead of next season, and one guy they might be looking at is Bradley Beal.
ZION GOT GAME: There’s apparently been talk between Spike Lee, Ray Allen and Zion Williamson about a potential He Got Game sequel. Zion Shuttlesworth?
IMPORTANT PIECE DOWN: If the season does resume, Utah will have to go one without second-leading scorer Bojan Bogdanovic, who will miss months of action due to surgery on his wrist.
AFTER THE DANCE: Fantastic oral history put together by our own Alex Kennedy about the 1998-99 Chicago Bulls team that won 13 games. Multiple players from that squad and beat writers who covered them chipped into that piece.
GOAT DEBATE: Already having covered the cases of Michael Jordan and LeBron James, we next went in-depth on Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s GOAT candidacy. His legacy makes a much stronger case than you might think.
TROLL PIERCE? Paul Pierce is all over the airwaves recently due to comments he made in which he said LeBron wasn’t among his Top-5 players ever. What’s weird about that is just two years ago, Pierce said James was definitely in his Top 5 already.
WIZARDS OFFSEASON: We break down what the Wizards’ offseason will look like, from key personnel decisions they’re going to have to make to their future payroll – and much more.
DRAFT TALK: We were joined by BYU draft prospect Yoeli Childs to talk about how he’s preparing for the draft, what he envisions his role in the NBA being and a lot more.