I love sports, always have and always will. What I am finding increasingly annoying about sports lately though is how quickly we need to label everything. If we don’t label it “the greatest” or “the worst” we also must compare it to something similar to it. Social media is the king of this and sports talk on the radio and television is not far behind.
On Wednesday the Golden State Warriors had a strong finish and edged the Cavs to take a commanding 3-0 series lead. When the game ended things were said like….”this is the greatest team ever put together”, “they are definitely the best team in the history of the NBA.” I am writing this not even to debate the facts but to ask the question why are we even having the discussion? If we want to get technical here two things are at play on the actual question. First the Cavs were moments away from making this a 2-1 series lead and they haven’t lost yet. If, and I know it won’t happen but if they won the next 4 would that be “the greatest comeback in the history of sports?” Or would we label that, “the biggest choke in the history of sports?” Everything has to have a label.
I have appreciated this series for what it is. The Cavs have played at an extremely high level, but the Warriors have raised their bar too. The Cavs would have beaten many teams along the way including the last two Warriors teams in my opinion. This Warriors team has been different and they have been incredible. Two titles in three years is impressive but how would two titles in five years sound? We don’t know what the future holds. I believe they will be the best team for years to come. Five titles in six years sounds a lot more like the makings of a “greatest” type team to me. We are always in a hurry. Last week it was, “Is LeBron the greatest player ever” to now is “Is KD better than LeBron?”
In 2016 we saw the “greatest” NCAA final tournament game between Villanova and North Carolina. Later that year we saw “the greatest” NBA Finals with the Cavs comeback from 3-1. Tom Brady helped solidify in some minds that he is “the greatest” quarterback of all-time with his Super Bowl rally to beat the Falcons. It is acceptable for these events to be fun, entertaining, played at a high level and memorable. We insist on putting them in categories and labels and probably will continue to do so.
The other thing to me that is maddening is the comparison game we have now too. Would the Warriors beat the 80’s Celtics or Lakers or 90’s Bulls? That debate is more infuriating than it is fun to me. There is no way to prove it and the entire exercise seems just senseless to me. Who on the Warriors would guard Kareem? Who on the Lakers could stay in front of Steph? Who cares? The game is different, the time is different and none of it can be proven with certainty. Who would guard Kareem? How about would Kareem be on the floor in the present day NBA? Larry Bird shot 8 three pointers for the entire 6 game series the last time he was in the NBA Finals, while Steph has launched 31 in the first 3 games of this Finals. I think Bird would have a few splash landings if he tried 31 triples.
The labeling and comparing will continue to go on but for me I am actually going to just enjoy the games. I appreciate the players, the skill and every once in a while a good debate but not all the time.