Emotions are running high in the 2019 NBA Playoffs series between the Denver Nuggets and Portland Trail Blazers. The teams got into a scuffle during Portland’s Game 6 victory on Thursday night. Portland’s bench became animated at the victory, as veteran swingman Evan Turner saluted the Nuggets with a gesture sure to earn detention in any public school. Writer Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post has returned fire in an article sure to raise eyebrows, if not temperatures, as the deciding Game 7 approaches.
Kiszla does not hold back in the opening paragraph:
Lacking the guts to win, the Nuggets will fold in the NBA playoffs and go to the beach. Or so the fake tough guys from the granola-paved streets of Portland seem to believe.
Then Kiszla describes CJ McCollum’s reaction to a game-sealing three as, “the smug self-approval of a gunslinger putting another notch in his belt” before going all-in on Turner and his finger puppetry.
And then — with one minute, 19 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter — the Blazers’ simmering disrespect of Denver got truly insulting: Turner, an end-of-rotation scrub for Portland, celebrated McCollum’s big, decisive jumper with a shot of his own.
Turner raised his right arm, then erected a middle finger and flipped off the Nuggets.
Now that’s funny. This flippant bird in the hand of Turner seemed a little passive-aggressive by the standards of the friendly and mellow Pacific Northwest. I knew Maurice Lucas, and as an intimidating enforcer, Turner adds absolutely nothing to Portland’s basketball legacy.
Kiszla even goes in on Portland fans, comically describing a man with, “a man bun and a scruffy beard” yelling at Strahinja Jokic, brother of Nuggets center Nikola Jokic.
Media writers are into drama nowadays, but even by 2019 standards, this piece goes pretty far. It’s not helped by Kiszla’s subtle ignorance of Portland. The streets are paved with designer doughnut crumbs, the rivers run with IPA’s, and the bun/scruff look is appropriate for any genders that find it fashionable. If you’re going to bring it up, at least get it right.