Let’s talk NBA Finals. Golden State Warriors vs. LeBron James, sorry, Cleveland Cavaliers IV. Somehow we’ve ended up here again. And I’ve seen more people lamenting the lack of parity in the NBA, and how they’re going to stop watching because the Finals are the same every year. To those people I say, have you even been watching in the first place?
This season came to the Conference Finals with the 4 teams everyone, and I do mean EVERYONE, said would be the final four teams. However, the Warriors were a 2 seed and the Cavs were a 4. LeBron dragged a team of scrubs that wouldn’t have made the playoffs without him past a Celtics team that didn’t have their two big superstar signings. The Warriors were taken to the brink and played some of the most difficult basketball they’ve faced during their run against the Rockets. Once each series got to game 4, it was highly entertains basketball all around. What more could you want?
In The West
The critics have been saying that if Chris Paul hadn’t been hurt in Games 6 & 7 we wouldn’t have this matchup again. I’m not so sure. The Rockets are a dangerous team with or without CP3, and they live and die by the 3. They just happened to die by it this time. Eric Gordon would not have put up the types of numbers he did had Chris Paul played, so the games would’ve looked very different, and I still think the Warriors would’ve found a way to win. Remember, they were playing without Andre Iguodala, who is a much bigger part of the equation for the Warriors than anyone seems to want to give credit. Also, Kevin Durant disappeared during this round but it seemed like maybe he figured it out in Game 7. Another way to think about this if you’re a Rockets fan? This could’ve been the only way out of 14,000,605 that LeBron comes to Houston in the offseason.
Look, LeBron has absolutely nothing to lose in this Finals. He dragged the corpses of his teammates farther than anyone reasonably thought he could. Everything past this point is just icing. I don’t care if he ends the season with another Finals loss. With the exception of the Dallas loss, which to me is the only blemish on his legacy, he has lost in the Finals to two of the best, most storied teams in the Modern Era. These Warriors are a pure dynasty, and when they were at their 73-9 best, LeBron actually beat them in 7. Tim Duncan’s Spurs were at the top for over a decade. LeBron got them too.
The only thing anyone who follows the NBA seemingly wants to talk about anymore is the G.O.A.T. question. And it’s becoming harder and harder for the Jordan camp to deny LeBron is gaining ground. MJ could’ve never pulled a team like this to the Finals on his own. Yes, he faced much tougher teams to get to the Finals, but he never faced a team anywhere near the caliber of the Spurs or Warriors once getting there. Hell, he never faced a team as good as the Thunder were when the Heat beat them. No, MJ never lost a Finals, but he never made 8 straight playing for two different franchises and roughly 4 majorly different teams. I’m not here to say that LeBron has definitely passed up MJ yet, but there’s no taking him off the NBA Mt. Rushmore at this point. And if he managed to beat these Warriors? All bets are off.
Could he beat the Warriors? The easy money says no, not a chance. Most people think he’ll be lucky to win 1 game. But if Iguodala can’t make it back, it becomes a more interesting conversation. Consistently, the only thing the Warriors have had to stop The King is Iguodala. He won a Finals MVP for that very thing. Now, I think even if he doesn’t play, the Warriors still have far more talent and a much, much deeper bench to pull out the series. But I don’t think it’s going to be the lopsided affair everyone else thinks it will. At this point, I’m not ready to count LeBron out until the horn has sounded on the 4th loss.
Because this is a Hot Takes post, you’re going to have to put up with one other (completely unrelated) thing I want to mention after over 500 words on the NBA. And that’s eyewear in the MLB. Maybe you saw the new specs Bryce Harper was seen wearing over the weekend. If not:
Dude basically wore some Warby Parker’s in the batter’s box. Amazing. But not to be outdone, Yoenis Cespedes had a fashion statement of his own. Because of course, he did.
Just a reminder that there may not be a better sports personality right now that No. 52. Never change Yo’.
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The first Florida Marlins game in 1993 gave us more than a franchise's birth.