Congratulations to the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. Both teams have a significant history in the NBA. The Warriors have the memories of Run TMC (Tim Hardaway, Chris Mullin and Mitch Richmond) and the Cavaliers went toe to toe with Michael Jordan in the 80’s and early 90’s.
More specifically, congratulations to both LeBron James and Steph Curry. Both players were in the top three in MVP voting at the end of the year and both of you did what was needed to be done so your teams reach the NBA Finals.
With that being said, get ready in a couple of weeks to see the smear campaign of one of the two players in full effect.
Right now you have two beautiful narratives for the Finals. You have the prodigal son returning home in Cleveland against the lovable baby face who can seemingly make a shot from the parking lot in Golden State. It’s the matchup that we, as a fan base, wanted as soon as the Spurs and Clippers were eliminated.
However, there’s going to be fallout when one of the teams loses.
For the Warriors the knock on them is twofold.
First, they don’t do things with the traditional big man. Yes, they have Andrew Bogut playing defense against someone trying to drive to the rim but Bogut only averaged 6.3 PPG in the regular season and 5.3 PPG in the playoffs. Then, the other big man, Draymond Green is only 6-7 and shoots the third most threes on the team. Sure he has the tenacity of a dog with rabies but it’s nothing close to the Tim Duncan and David Robinson’s Spurs or even the trio of 6’10 and above players the Lakers had in 2010 with Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom.
Second, they shoot a lot of threes. I don’t mean a little more than usual, I mean A LOT of threes. Steph Curry broke his own record for most three pointers in a season with 286 and Klay Thompson added 239 of his own. Those 525 combined threes are the most by a pair of teammates in the history of the NBA. The next closest is the combination of Antoine Walker and Paul Pierce for the Celtics in 2001-02 season with 432.
The difference between the two teams is that the Celtics only made the 432 shots at 37% and the Warriors made 525 shots while shooting 44%. This team makes a lot of threes and their good at it. But people don’t like change and people generally don’t like to trust that something can work until it already has worked… which seems a little oxymoronic.
Then we have LeBron James. Almost a year ago LeBron decided he was “coming home” to Cleveland again to play for his hometown team again. He teamed up with Sports Illustrated to announce it and everyone from Los Angeles to New York loved it. He was making it right to the city of Cleveland and we even began to forgive him for the sins of Miami. All was golden for King James.
I mean, he even brought a Cavalier team to the Finals without Kevin Love and with an ailing Kyrie Irving. Who would you say the second best player on Cleveland is right now? Is it JR Smith? This is the guy who’s riding shotgun to LeBron James… good luck.
That’s your number two if Kyrie is still injured… Good luck trusting him.
So what happens if LeBron loses? Do you think the media forgives him? Remember that, before this Finals kicks off LeBron is 2-3 in the Finals. If he loses again he’ll have as many losses in the Finals as Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant combined. Magic lost four times in the Finals but he also had five rings. He at least won more times than he lost. Right now people are wondering if LeBron is as good as Jordan. If he loses watch for that narrative to got 180 degrees really quick.
The media doesn’t to like losers. Who is the team that lost the Finals that we lovably remember? Maybe you give it to the Spurs of 2013 because of the Ray Allen shot but there’s a little bit of anti-Miami Heat sentiment in there as well.
If the Cavaliers lose we’ll crush LeBron because he isn’t a winner. If the Warriors lose we’ll say that you can’t build a team with a non-conventional lineup. It’s bulletproof. Either way the media wins. Is it fair? No, not at all, but that’s how the media works. Either you have the heart of a champion or you’re a bum who can’t win the big one. Happy Finals everyone! Go team!