• The NBA offseason has been more interesting than the Finals, with beef stepping to the forefront. Which squabble ruled the summer?
By Rohan Nadkarni
August 08, 2017

Early August is a particularly bland time for NBA basketball. Training camp is still over a month away. Football writers are dominating Twitter to let you know when a backup quarterback completes an eight-yard pass in practice. And players are more or less silent, except for the occasional social media post that keeps us on the juice for just a little bit longer.

Fortunately, this offseason has been a little bit more enjoyable than most, thanks in large part to a wide swath of beefs around the Association. That’s right, watching NBA players use passive-aggressive (or sometimes just aggressive) behavior to go after enemies—perceived or real—is one of the most fun parts of the game. It’s at least made the offseason more entertaining than the Finals. So let’s go ahead and rank these beefs, shall we?

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5. James Harden vs. Chris Paul

Has this actually reached beef level yet? Probably not! Let’s just say this is something to keep our eye on. Paul was caught on video complaining about Harden not taking a layup in a Drew League game, so you can only imagine the fit Paul will throw the first time Harden launches an inopportune pull-up three during an actual NBA game.

I know I’m cheating by starting us off with something that’s not technically a beef, but at the very least, someone is starting to heat up a skillet on the stove. I would love to see Paul and Harden have a great season together, but the disaster potential here may be higher than I originally thought.

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4. Sixers Fans vs. Reality

The 76ers’ vaunted core has played zero games together. I have as much faith in Joel Embiid’s knees as I do in Congress’s ability to pass a legitimate healthcare bill. And Ben Simmons still maybe can’t shoot? Look, Philly is going to be entertaining. The Sixers may even make the playoffs! In a year or two, this team may even be great! But don’t forget that the annoying Sixers fan in your office scoffed at all the teams who were simply good enough to make the playoffs every season.

Nah, the cult of Hinkie swore by The Process because it was supposed to create a juggernaut that was Finals bound every year. Maybe Philly fans can wait for a conference finals appearance before dragging everyone on Twitter? What exactly were Sixers fans celebrating so loudly this summer? I’m all for gloating mercilessly—when the time is right. I think some people just need to pump the brakes a bit.

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3. John Wall vs. NBA2K18

John Wall is the dude at a bar pretending like he doesn’t care about the outcome of a ping pong game when it’s very obvious he’s incredibly invested. Just look at this exchange Wall had with an NBA2K18 developer over his rating in the game:

Wall comes in with the “all good bra” in that last tweet to make it seem like he’s just messing around. He’s not. John Wall loves perceived slights. A 90 rating in 2K is maybe not as insulting as making less money than Reggie Jackson, but for Wall, it’s clearly still an annoyance. It will only be a matter of time before Wall has a big game and calls out the 2K guys for not giving him a higher rating. Wall will try to play it off like a joke even though deep down he truly means it. I promise this will happen. Fav this paragraph.

2. Draymond Green vs. Conor McGregor

A cross-sport beef! Green traded in one unsavory dude for another when he told McGregor not to wear a Warriors jersey because the team was backing Floyd Mayweather in their upcoming boxing match. McGregor fired back quickly, asking Green to research why he wore that particular jersey, as well as claiming he didn’t even know who Green was.

This was really a loss for everyone involved. McGregor wore a C.J. Watson jersey in a reference to one of Mayweather’s domestic abuse incidents, which is awful. Green publicly supported a serial domestic abuser, which is awful. And Mayweather, though not directly involved here, is an awful guy. Draymond should stick to trolling the Cavs or flailing his legs and stay out of the McGregor-Mayweather circus.

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1. Kyrie Irving vs. LeBron James

This is one of the better NBA beefs of the decade. To recap: Kyrie requests a trade because he’s tired of LeBron. LeBron’s camp most likely leaks the news of the trade request. Subtweets/subgrams are exchanged. Kyrie watches Steph Curry mock LeBron at a wedding. More subtweets/subgrams are exchanged.

This fight is beautiful. It is peak 2017 NBA. Kyrie is so tired of LeBron he is willing to give up a guaranteed trip to the Finals. And James can’t help but involve himself, so he keeps responding to Irving using Meek Mill lyrics.

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Irving vs. James is a reminder of one of the most important NBA tenets: The fall is always more captivating than the rise. Cleveland—since LeBron’s return—has already been a particularly chaotic experiment. But watching Irving and James snipe at each other while feigning ignorance is already more fun than watching the Cavs slog through the regular season.

How does this all end? James and Irving are likely both on different teams next summer, though I expect Irving to be out of Cleveland much sooner than that. And the best part about this beef, unlike the other on this list? It will be settled head-to-head where it should be—on the court.

Eagle (-2)
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