Return of The NBA Journey, Week Zero: Open World Concept

That's right. What good is a series without a trilogy? For the third time, The Sports Fan Journal heads on the NBA Journey. For the first two years, we had a level of surety as to where our destination would be. In the first year, we were correct. The second, we were correct in location, but not in victor, as the Toronto Raptors won the title last year. Now, the NBA springs anew and for the first time in a while, we're not totally sure where our destination lies. This allows for a current kind of exploration. Let's begin with the core concept of it.

Song of The Week: Divine Beast Vah Medoh (4 Terminals Active)

As evidenced by my theme last year, I love video games. To me, they are one of the mediums that are perfect metaphors for life. The same goes for sports. So I decided to tie two of my loves together and relate both worlds to their respective audiences.

No matter how free it may seem, video games have a start and an end. The freedoms lie in the ability to do side quests, various game modes and hidden levels and regions to explore. Most games do not let players stray too far from the designed path developers have mapped to give even the speediest gamer a sense of completion. I'm going to focus on a newer entry to a classic franchise that fully embraced the idea of, "open world" — The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (BOTW).

BOTW was released on March 3, 2017, by Nintendo for its Switch and Wii-U consoles. Like the previous entries from the three-decade-old adventure game juggernaut, players control link in search of saving the world from longtime foe and all-time great baddie Ganon. Where this game differs from the others is that it is truly an open-world game. Players can take hero Link anywhere in the world — including right to Ganon — without doing anything else in the game. Not even the linear necessities that players immerse themselves in the game's world are needed. That is revolutionary and adds a nice uniqueness to a franchise that stuck to productive but repetitive methods, even if most players aren't brave enough to do so. The mere thought of playing the game how the player chooses is liberating and makes for numerous pathways to the same goal: the final boss.

Though the additions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have made the Los Angeles Clippers betting favorites, it is still not a guarantee they'll win the title. (

We have arrived at a point where the NBA is as close to an open world as it's been in a while. Realistically, we know that not every team has a shot at the championship. Parity is not as pure an idea in professional basketball as it may seem on its surface. However, we haven't been this unsure of the Finals participants in at least a decade, so that means this journey we're about to embark on can go how we think or be totally different than what we're used to. Anything is possible and it raises the tension and anticipation for the unfolding of the season from now until June. So when tip-off happens tonight, relish the fact that we don't know anything about the end of the game.

As always, let's enjoy the ride. Happy NBA, folks.

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