Since the NBA Finals are almost complete and the fifth season of Game of Thrones wrapped up Sunday night (how fast was that?), it’s time we examine the exciting series that have captivated audiences all season long. After all, many of the fans of the show are also basketball fans.
And they have share the same passion for their teams and heroes.
Why doesn't George RR Martin use Twitter? Because he probably killed all 140 characters. #GameofThronesFinale— Justin Mathews (@JustMath19) June 15, 2015
If you were paying close attention, you witnessed similar story lines for both. Narratives of betrayal (big time), trust and the lack thereof, along with a couple of wildcards that changed the fortunes of several of the teams involved abound during the NBA post-season. While the most obvious demonstration of the link between the NBA and GOT came when a picture of Paul Pierce sitting on the iron throne, proclaiming himself “King of the North, went viral, there were many underlying narratives during the season that coexisted for both programs. Pierce’s photo is just one manifestation of how competitive the Playoffs are- as cutthroat as the battles we’ve seen raging across the seven kingdoms over these past five years.
As I was writing this story, I realized that a common story line had emerged that had too many similarities to ignore.
The plot involving the leaders of men.
The futures of LeBron James and Jon Snow.
LeBron James of the Cavs and the Night’s Watch commander Jon Snow (R.I.P.) had a lot in common and both were polarizing for complex reasons. James has “The Decision” and the constant and unfair comparisons to Michael Jordan. Snow is the illegitimate son of a prominent family who was later deemed as traitors. He also has the perception of siding with the Wildlings, a group long hated by the Night’s Watch.
Both James and Snow had to make tough decisions this year that weren’t liked by their respective groups. When Dion Waiters (traded) and Janos Slynt (beheaded) questioned their authority, they used different tactics to achieve a similar result- to demonstrate that they were in chosen as leaders and that they were in charge.
Leaders often have to make tough decisions based on of the cards they were dealt. Remember when the Cavaliers were 19-20? People called LeBron crazy for taking time off. Remember the doubt that arose when Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving went down with season ending injuries during the playoffs and finals? They said it was over for the Cavs. Fast forward to present day and LeBron has the Cavaliers two games away from the championship while having one of the greatest NBA Finals performances ever.
Many of us thought the series would be over by now; but not LeBron. He stepped up to face adversity and doubt and accepted the challenge presented to him and his team.
As for Jon Snow, he saw that the White Walkers were the real enemy the seven kingdoms should be most concerned about, so he did what anyone in his position would do -- he tried to build a consensus and address the threat with a new way of thinking. However, that consensus wasn’t popular to the rigid and traditional thinking rank and file of the Night’s Watch.
After the battle at Hardhome, Snow remained true to his word and escorted the Wildings through to the other side of the wall. Some of Snow’s supporters questioned his motives, including long-time detractors like former Night’s Watch commander Ser Alliser Thorne who told him “You have a good heart, Jon Snow. It’ll get us all killed.”
Thorne meant it will get YOU killed Jon Snow.
Now that season five is complete, we will have to wait until next season to see if Snow’s plans yield any positive results. If things go awry, the Wildlings will know that Snow did right by them. He has cache with them, albeit too late. After watching Sunday night’s season finale and reading Kit Harrington’s Q&A with Entertainment tonight that went live right after the show, it appears the Snow’s plans went south.
But you never know what will happen in the seven kingdoms.
Back in the present, LeBron had all the right intentions but after losing game 5, it appears he may have bitten off more than he can chew. He tried to carry this team, which turned out to not be very good. After Love and Irving went down, an above average effort was needed by average players at best. With this in mind, the debate has raged as to whether James should be named Finals MVP. What other player in the Finals, much less on Golden State, has played as well as over five games?
35.8 PPG, 13.3 RPG and 8.8 APG.
At this point, both James and Snow made the mistake of ignoring what was right in front of them. James may have asked too much of the players he was surrounded with and Snow was more concerned with the future than he was the present.
But that’s what leaders, and visionaries, do. They’re always ahead of the game, ahead of the norm.
Unfortunately for Jon Snow, that’s what got him killed.
And with Golden State's NBA Finals victory last night, another King has fallen in the quest for the throne.