Mendoza: Heartbreak Kid

·2 min read

It’s official. Golden State is the Heartbreak Kid of the NBA 2020-2021.

Play Taps.

First, the Warriors, gallant champs only a while back, bowed to the Lakers in Thursday’s play-in in a most depressing manner.

It went this way.

They were tied at 100 with mere ticks remaining.

Lakers had possession. Warriors defending well. Shot clock nearing dead end.

Then, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, bottled up inside, managed to kick out a pass to — of all people — LeBron James.

You know LeBron.

He can do the impossible.

He can do the incredible.

Why, he can even walk on water.

That’s because he is the planet’s best player today.

The chosen one.

Go, ask Michael Jordan. Jordan wouldn’t mind admitting it. Jordan’s the GOAT, anyways. Greatest Of All Time. No debate on that.

And what did LeBron do again on Thursday?

Even from 34 feet away, he fired a fade away shot. He was that confident.

Even with Steph Curry distracting him.

Even if he was like an anaconda twirling awkwardly in mid-air when he uncorked the Hail Mary missile.

And, yes, even if one of his eyes, poked earlier, was seeing three rims from as far as his good eye could see.

Forced to fire away without hesitation. Lakers lean only on him. All of NBA thinks only of him now as the greatest closer of his era.

With those “three rims,” his target was the middle. Of course. Only a scientist can think of that.

When the trey went in for a 103-100 win that advanced the Lakers to the playoffs, LA coach Frank Vogel said: “Put that in his resume.”

Piece of cake for LeBron.

A bitter pill to swallow for Curry, the reigning shooting champion.

And, as if rubbing salt to injury, Curry saw his team absorb another beating from the Memphis Grizzlies two days later (Saturday).

After LeBron, 36, came Grizzlies spitfire Ja Morant, only 21, to complete the Warriors humiliation. Experience and youth did the Warriors in.

Morant mowed Curry with 37 points in 46 minutes as Memphis grabbed a 117-112 overtime win, pushing the Grizzlies to the playoffs for the first time since 2017.

But, in fairness, only Curry and Draymond Green were remnants of the powerhouse Warriors.

This is a five-versus-five contest. I can tell you that.