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NBA’s golden age of parity

Mon, May 20th, 2024

The Opening Tip

  • It’s a great time to be a non-traditional NBA market 

  • Rudy Gobert’s turnaround jumper was a bad harbinger for Denver 

  • Magic Johnson does not know what a pun is

Tomorrow’s playoff game

1. The parity is ripe

Dynasties are dead. Super teams have been kneecapped by the new CBA. The defending champ hasn’t made it past the second round since 2019. Kevin Durant is 0-2 in his last two attempts to ruin the NBA. We are in the golden age of NBA parity. 

  • With Denver losing last night, the NBA will have a unique champion for the sixth year in a row, the longest streak since 1975-80. 

  • The previous five champs have included two first-timers (Raptors, Nuggets), a first-time in a century team (Bucks) and two mainstays (Lakers, Warriors). 

  • This year, we’re either getting another first-timer (Wolves, Pacers) or two first-time-in-a-long time teams (Celtics: 2008, Mavericks: 2011). 

This is a complete reversal from the 2000s, 1990s, 1980s and so on. The history of the NBA (other than the 1970s) is dynasties, a previous given that began to shift last decade, despite two repeat champions:

By June, the 2020s will already have had the same number of unique champs as the 2000s, and more than the 1990s, 1980s and 1960s.

What we’re saying: If you’re a small market team on the rise (Thunder, Pacers, Magic) or you’ve historically sucked (Knicks), you should seize the decade.

[READ: The 2024 NBA Conference Finals entrance survey]

2. Daily GIF: You knew Denver was in trouble when …

… Rudy Gobert started hitting 13-foot fadeaways to beat the shot clock.

For context: .012 percent of Rudy’s career shots have come from midrange (10-16 feet). Of that .012 percent, he’s shooting .224 percent. That thing had no business going in.

[WATCH: Nuggets-Wolves Game 7]

3. Trivia

Which of these players has never appeared in a Conference Finals game?

Greg Oden

Skal Labissière

• Thanasis Antetokounmpo

• Joel Embiid

Guess, click and see if you're right.

4. Can someone explain to Magic what a pun is?

The pun here appears to be the correlation between Magic’s name and his use of ‘magical,’ but that isn’t really a pun, and his parenthesis placement suggests ‘today’ was the subject of the pun. Also, why can’t anyone nail the possessive when typing out a mascot? Whose magical run was it, Magic? It was the Knicks(’) magical run.

Quick hits

  • Reminder: GM Tim Connelly built the Nuggets into a title contender then left to take Wolves job in 2022, where he spent a year building a team that could beat the Nuggets. Nikola Jokic talked about this after the L. 

  • Michael Malone threw a hissy fit in the postgame presser.

  • This is the best work the Art But Make It Sports account has ever done. 

  • Before last night, teams up 15-plus points at halftime of a Game 7 were 21-0.

  • Among the 15 highest paid players in the NBA this season, only Rudy Gobert is still playing.

  • Kevin Garnett’s ‘ready for war’ postgame interview is the greatest NBA player quote of all-time. 

  • This Naz Reid mix goes insanely hard.


  • Was Knicks Game 7 fanfest a new low for ESPN’s NBA Countdown? [Awful Announcing]

  • The blistering arrival of the Indiana Pacers [The Ringer]

  • Minnesota has the bedrock [Defector]

That's the buzzer.
Thanks for reading the 384th edition of The Grip.