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Your Sunday-Night Viewing Guide: Just Watch the NBA Finals, OK?

HBO/Getty Images/Ringer illustration
HBO/Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Sunday is a big — perhaps historically big — TV day. In the afternoon, we’ll have the Euros, the final round of the U.S. Open, and 15 glorious MLB matchups to choose from. But trouble comes during the evening block of this blessed Father’s Day: Game 7 of the NBA Finals, which tips off at 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, conflicts with this week’s episode of Game of Thrones, which airs at 9 p.m. EST. Which should we watch? the people have asked. How can we choose between LeBron James and Jon Snow?

Listen, bozos, the choice is obvious: You should watch the NBA Finals.

First, a disclaimer: I love Game of Thrones. I think it’s fantastic! I look forward to it every week! This week’s episode, the penultimate of Season 6, will be great: It’s titled "Battle of the Bastards"! Ramsay’s just deserts! Arya possibly going home! The motherfucking dragons laying motherfucking waste (maybe) to the slavers of Meereen! Two weeks from now, when there is no Game of Thrones to watch, I will be sad. It is a fine show that is worthy of just about every Sunday evening available.

(A second disclaimer: HBO is an investor in The Ringer and a great and wonderful and hopefully benevolent network and I am so sorry for what I’m about to say.)

There are a couple of reasons why you, if you are a person to whom both dragons and basketballs are interesting, might be tempted to watch Game of Thrones over Game 7.

The first case is that you want to participate in the social zeitgeist of watching the episode at the same time as all your pals online. To that point, let me make a little confession: I have never once in five years of following this show watched it live. Not one time! And — you know what? — it’s been fine.

When someone tweets "HOLY SHIT" during Game 6, you know they’re talking about the J.R. Smith–LeBron alley-oop that I am currently having tattooed onto my back. If you tweet the same thing during Game of Thrones, it’s not so clear. Everyone is pausing to explain to their poor, confused boyfriends why people keep giving Brienne looks, or stopping to go get the Boursin out of the fridge, or rewinding to try to figure out what in the holy hell Edmure Tully is doing. Take it from me: If you watch Thrones a few hours — or even a few days — late, Twitter will wait for you. HBO is beholden to time zones. From coast to coast, the nation will be united in watching Game 7. "DID YOU SEE THAT?" they will call. Don’t you want the answer to be yes?

The second, and strongest, rationale for Thrones over Game 7 is fear of spoilers. Sunday will be the next-to-last episode of Thrones’ season, and lord do David Benioff and Co. like to have shit pop off around then: Previous episode nines in the series have seen the Battle of the Blackwater, the Red Wedding, and Ned’s head. It is very likely that on Sunday, there will be the kind of drama that is both extremely compelling and highly, highly spoilable.

To which I say: People who spoil this show on social media are mean and bad and they, like Ramsay (hopefully!), will eventually meet justice. But also: We shall overcome. Unless you’re creeping around Reddit or diving deeper into Maester territory than somebody who’s made the decision to celebrate Father’s Day with noted DILF Steve Kerr ought to, you’ll probably be spared obvious spoilers. You might see the odd meme that doesn’t quite make sense yet — I saw a whole lot of saggy, withered, necklace-less Melisandres in the days before I actually got around to watching that episode — but so what? Odds are you won’t understand their importance until you see it yourself, at your own happy, basketball-sated leisure. (Good luck avoiding the Game 7 results!)

Here is why you shouldn’t watch Game of Thrones over the Finals on Sunday: It is Game 7 of the NBA Finals featuring LeBron James against the greatest regular-season NBA team there has ever been. Not convinced? Maybe if I say it louder: It is Game 7!!! Of the NBA Finals!!! Thursday’s Game 6 featured the ejection of Stephen Curry, flying mouthguards, top-notch conspiracy-mongering, and dazzling performances by Kyrie Irving and LeBron. Sunday’s finale will present the closing arguments of two players with legitimate claims to being the greatest player of their era, a record-breaking season on the brink, and the prospect of Cleveland finally landing the trophy. Plus, the Many-Limbed God, Draymond Green, who might have one last thing up his sleeve.

So, see you guys on NBA Twitter. It’s going to be great.