For any basketball fan, today feels a bit like Christmas. Not only will we finally get that fix we’ve craved these last six weeks, today also marks be the culmination of the last three seasons. A first taste of the grudge match of an epic trilogy. Because today is the day the Cavaliers & Warriors will meet in the NBA finals for the 3rd straight time to battle for bragging rights as best in the world.
Some (or even most of us) certainly feel this way. But there is a low murmur coming from a growing few who couldn’t feel further opposed.
From the moment Kevin Durant decided to part ways with one Western Conference Juggernaut only to join another stacked powerhouse that defeated him, he has become a scapegoat for the deterioration of the NBA. In other words, Kevin Durant is arguably one of many moving parts responsible for destroying the parody in a league that severely drops off after Cleveland and Golden State.
Let’s face the facts. This year’s regular season has been nothing short of completely predicable. The only glimpse of drama was Russel Westbrook’s immaculate response to playing the role of salty ex-girlfriend with emotional issues. This resulted in a crazed, freak-like athlete running through the league with a talentless cast while putting up numbers that warranted record breaking status. As great as it was to watch, it did nothing for changing the already pre-meditated outcome of what we all knew this year’s Finals matchup would be.
And while this all may be true, there is much to be said about the history we may be about to witness. And all that is on the line for everyone involved.
It is worth reiterating that never have there been two teams playing in the NBA Finals for three straight years, and certainly have no two teams have ever split the first two matchups. The Cavs and Warriors have created what seems nothing short of a “Winner Takes All” championship bout in the birth of the NBA’s newest, yet possibly most talented, rivalry.
Let’s also not cast shadow to the individual legacies at stake. First, there is Stephen Curry. A back-to-back MVP who was dumped from the conversation of best player in the world after last year’s finals. In my opinion deservingly so, although this alone takes nothing away from his NBA superstar status. However, what would another Finals loss with an even more powerful team do to his legacy? I think there’s a lot more on the line for Steph Curry this year. A Finals win will put him back at the top of the Mountain as he continues to jock for position with Kawhi, Russ, and Harden for 2nd best player in the world. A loss, however, would culminate in the anti-climactic descent of one of the greatest personal 2-3 season performances of all time.
Next, there’s Kevin Durant. What is there to be said about him that hasn’t already been said on Twitter and IG? For Durant, its very simple. A Finals chip temporarily silences the nay-sayers of the biggest superstar team up since Lebron and Wade’s time in Miami. A loss, and Kevin will experience a similar summer to Lebron’s 2011 after falling apart at the hands of Dallas. Just with way more ridicule and lack of respect.
And lastly, you have Lebron James. Arguably the greatest player of all time has the chance to beat a super-team for the 2nd straight year in a row. A team that happened to casually add another former MVP to the starting lineup for this year’s battle.
Can we just take a minute and reflect on how insane that is? After beating the team that broke the regular season record of wins (previously held by MJ’s 96′ Bulls), Lebron and the Cavs are faced with the same challenge the very next year. Only this time, with the addition of a top 5 NBA superstar. The chances of winning are as likely as a deranged reality TV mogul winning the Republican Nomination and stampeding his way to the Presidency even after a video leaked of him bragging about grabbing women by the… oh wait.
So what I’m saying is…. There’s a chance? Absolutely I am. And there is a lot on the line.
There is nothing fans have wanted to see more then this Finals trilogy come to fruition. Yet, we must recognize that this epic tale comes with an added pressure for not only the players and teams involved, but also for the NBA as a whole. Because at the end of the day, we are patiently waiting for this series not because we want to see Cleveland or Golden State take the chip. It is because we are expecting nothing less than another epic 7-game series. Add in the Durant vs Lebron match-up, and this should be nothing short of a 7 game, 18-day basketball orgasm.
But, I can’t help but wonder- What if it’s not? What if the Warriors, and all their ridiculous, offensive firepower, take the series in 4 or 5 games? What if we waited all regular season and sacrificed the entirety of the NBA playoffs, just to witness a sweep?
The possible outcomes are simple. A 7-game series would arguably rival the greatest NBA Finals of all time, or at least the last decade. Yet a 4-5 game sweep equals to not only the WORST NBA Finals of all time, but worst NBA playoffs and regular season as well, however unlikely it is to happen.
Greatness can be a very simple concept to grasp. It also can be simply explained quite easily: never count Greatness out. The Cavs already have a proven Greatness on their roster, including a solid supporting cast. The question is- How great are the Warriors? Are they Great at all? Or, is it as simple as its put on the front of their warm-up shirts… Strength in Numbers.