In an instense atmosphere in New York, Trae Young was entirely unmoved.
Last week we witnessed the interesting concept of play-in games for the playoffs. We also looked on as Kwame Brown emerged from the depths of disrespect and punchline purgatory to go scorched earth on any and everybody who had anything to say about him. Then the playoffs finally began in earnest on Thursday, and oh, was it worth the wait.
Have you ever seen such entertaining hoops in such a short time? The games looked tasty on paper and proved to be as good as advertised. And these were Game Ones!
The Mavericks showed guts. Portland took care of of short-handed Denver. The Suns continued to spoil the Lakers’ season. The Grizzlies shocked the Jazz. It made for great viewing as a neutral. However, I was mesmerized by the Atlanta Hawks-New York Knicks match-up at Madison Square Garden.
The atmosphere was electric. The constant noise impressed me. I had grown so accustomed to the airy ambience of the Bubble, the empty arenas, and the limited attendance in recent weeks. This was a bit jarring to me at first, but I soon settled in. I can only imagine the effect it had on the players.
The spirited New York crowd was in full voice. They had words of encouragement for anyone interested in fornication with Trae Young. The profane chant they showered on him was a clear example of what has been missing from the arenas. It was thoroughly entertaining and in keeping with the edgy attitude we’ve all come to expect from the hoops fans of Gotham. I only hope this sort of thing doesn’t catch on in other NBA venues. The most I think I could tolerate might be something along the lines of “KD sucks,” or “Simmons ain’t shit.”
The chant didn’t seem to affect Young much however. At least not in the way the Knicks faithful might have hoped. He did his thing and never really looked uncomfortable in what was his first foray into playoff basketball. He hit the game winner and inspired flashbacks of Reggie Miller’s dashing taunts of Spike Lee, MSG, and all five boroughs in the mid 90s. Is this Young’s baptism as a bonafide NBA villain? It could be. The rest of the series, and the results in particular, will bear this out. He could become a buffoon or a badass.
Young had 32 points, 10 assists, and 7 rebounds in 35 minutes of action. This was a remarkably solid performance. There have been lingering doubts about how his game translates to the league since his rookie season. Experts obviously compared him to Steph Curry based on his outrageous range in college. He was traded on draft night for Luka Doncic and seemed to be destined to be on the wrong side of any number of “what were they thinking?” pieces in the future considering Doncic’s rapid development over the past three seasons.
When the Hawks dismissed head coach Lloyd Pierce in early March, there were relatively loud whispers that it was due to Young’s disapproval of the coach. For about a week, pundits cautiously described him as a malcontent and/or a coach killer. Atlanta Hawks basketball is not exactly headline material in the national media, however, so the story didn’t gain much traction. But, oh, how the narratives can switch in the time it takes to hoist a game winning shot.
A Superstar is Born
Last night Trae Young was a thrilling example of the youthful stars that are poised to take over the league. Along with the aforementioned Doncic, Devin Booker, Ja Morant, and Morant’s hardhat sidekick Dillon Brooks, these players are gaining the experience required for superstar development and attention.
Young seems undersized at times on the floor, so defense might prove to be an issue going forward. His shooting is rock solid though. If he continues to work on that, he will be mentioned in sentences with Steph Curry, instead of just in comparison before too long. Playing with all the lights on in NYC is pressure by definition. Young held up his end of the business and, regardless of the results of the series, earned our respect.
Do you have a story about your favorite team? Why do you bleed purple, or green, or blue? Let us know. thePeachBasket was created to be the Voice of the Fan! Every fan has a story. What’s yours?
ICE TRAE HAS ARRIVED ICE TRAE HAS ARRIVED ICE TRAE HAS ARRIVED