They did set Brooklyn on fire.Illustration: Getty Images
Neil Young gets credit for the line, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away,” but Kurt Cobain made it infamous. That dichotomy stuck with me, and it’s impossible not to see it in sports.
The Shaq O’Neal and Kobe Bryant Lakers are one of the best examples of a team burning so fucking hot that there was no way it was going to play out like a San Antonio Spurs dynasty. The Heatles predicted seven titles, but the run, Dwyane Wade’s body, and Chris Bosh’s career were all spent in four years.
Credit to Golden State for being able to revert to their pre-Kevin Durant championship form, but the Warriors will never be as good or as interesting as they were with him. Those Michael Jordan Bulls teams were a shooting star, screaming across the night sky along the lines of The Beatles, Nirvana, Biggie, or Tupac. Jordan retired twice because sustaining that level of greatness is exhausting. Look at how tired Baby Yoda is any time he uses the Force.
The argument against this very important take that is certain to ruin your day is what about Tom Brady or Nick Saban and Alabama or those San Antonio Spurs? The consistency is what makes them great. However, I’d argue that the most entertaining version of the Patriots — the one with Randy Moss — didn’t last very long.
You can’t fade away in college football because of eligibility restrictions, but what was the most fun iteration of those Bama teams? I’d say the one with Tua Tagovailoa, Jerry Jeudy, Jaylen Waddle, DeVonota Smith, and Henry Ruggs. Tagovailoa won a national title his freshman year, and it looked like he was going to run off a couple more, but injuries caught up with him.
Kawhi Leonard was supposed to be the next cornerstone of the Spurs until he wasn’t. We thought the Clippers were going to saunter to a title when they got him and Paul George the way we thought the Nets were going to a season ago.
Brooklyn looked like an untamable inferno at the beginning of the 2021 NBA Playoffs, and they were extinguished faster than a load of lump charcoal when you’re trying to put a four-hour…