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NO BULL. JUST STRAIGHT HOOPS.
May 30, 2016
By Anthony J. Fredella
NEW YORK, New York - Christmas comes early this year for most of the basketball watching universe in the form of an NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. It's the matchup almost everyone - except Spurs and Thunder fans - wanted to see. And why not? It's the premier matchup between the best team in the Eastern Conference, and the top team out of the vicious West. It's the marquee encounter between the two most dynamic players in the world, LeBron James and the reigning back-to-back MVP, Stephen Curry. And most importantly, it is the rematch from the 2015 NBA Finals that saw the Warriors take out a depleted Cavs team in 6 games, despite a heroic effort by King James himself. Not only is this series what we've all been waiting for, it's exactly what the NBA needs.
Why The Cavs And Warriors In The NBA Finals Is The Best Thing For Basketball
For a league that has mastered the art of marketing its superstars to the highest of levels, a championship series between the two most recognizable figures in the game - and in all of sports for that matter - is like a dream come true. While everyone appreciated the upsets and drama that took place during both conference championship series, nobody really wanted to watch the Toronto Raptors battle the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals. Even an OKC/Cleveland matchup would not have been the same. We longed for the Cavs and Warriors and so did the networks, the sponsors, and even the NBA. This rematch between the Cavaliers and Warriors is the best thing that could have happened for basketball.
The knock on these playoffs have been the lopsided wins through the first two rounds, making many of the games unwatchable. That was due to the lack of parity around the league and the lopsidedness between the best 2-3 teams in each conference, and everyone else. So a finale featuring some of the biggest names in the game, along with the various storylines that go along with this series, is a perfect way to cap off an unforgettable season. Whether the Warriors win their second straight title, or whether LeBron finally brings a world championship back to the City of Cleveland, really does not matter. What's most important is that the NBA's product, broadcasted on the grandest of stages, is at its peak, and that is why it was so important to get the NBA Finals that we have.
Following a regular season that saw the Warriors break Michael Jordan's 1995-1996 Bulls' record for wins with 73, the hearts of the Dubs' fanbase skipped a beat when they went down 3-1 to the Thunder in the West Finals. But in typical Warriors' fashion, exhibiting hearts of the champions that they are, Golden State won three straight games, including an epic comeback in Game 6 in Oklahoma City, to advance to the NBA Finals, where LeBron is once again waiting. I say once again because LeBron James is about to play in his sixth straight NBA Finals. Besides Bill Russell and a bunch of his Celtics' teammates who dominated the 1960's, no other basketball player in the history of the NBA has even played in five straight Finals. Not many in the history of the NBA, however, are in the same class as LeBron.
Despite a so so regular season wherein their head coach was fired prior to the All Star break - even though they held the best record in the Eastern Conference - the Cavs really turned it on once the playoffs began, rattling off ten straight wins. Besides a couple of hiccups in Games 3 & 4 of the East Finals, the Cavs have been nothing short a dominant over the last two months. The Big Three of LeBron, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are playing in the exact form for which they were put together in the first place. Last season's NBA Finals, while phenomenal and dramatic, left us all wishing for a little more, namely a healthy Cavs team. We have that at the present moment. We also have a confident Cleveland team that is ready to set their city, and the entire NBA watching world, on fire.
Heading into the NBA Finals, there is really no disputing that we will see a clash between the two best teams in the NBA, who are currently both playing their best basketball of the season. That's all we could ever hope for, is it not? At the end of the day professional basketball is just another form of entertainment that we use to distract us for a couple of hours each evening, in the hopes that it will take our minds off of our day to day grind. And since that is the case, don't we deserve to see the best of the best, duking it out for all to see? We sure as hell do. Lucky for us, our wish has been granted.