My lack of knowledge in regards to basketball has been well-documented on this website. I may make a fool out of myself when trying to figure out what a foul is or even joke about making the Olympic squad in 2020, and all of that is really fun for everyone, I’m sure, but I realized something recently.
I know basketball. More specifically, I know the Golden State Warriors.
I grew up just outside of Boston, another fact that has been well-documented. Growing up in New England also meant I was baptized in the waters of the Charles and anointed with the holy oils of the B’s, the C’s, the Sox and the Pats. There really isn’t room for choice in the sporting realm of the Northeast, at most you got to pick a college to root for… and good luck with that.
Thanks to the geographic location of my birth, I’ve been lucky enough to experience 12 Championships in my lifetime, all of them coming in the last 19 years. For those of you keeping track, that’s a championship every year and a half. For comparison, Manchester United wins a championship every 6.5 years, and both the Montreal Canadiens and the New York Yankees win it all every 4.5 years.
So when I watch the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals for the fifth consecutive year, it dawns on me…
I know this. I’ve seen this. This is New England sports.
And this is why everyone hates us.
I know, shut up, I hear you. But this is important. It’s lost on New Englanders. The dominance is annoying, the MonStars quality all our teams possess can be suffocating. When I’m screaming at my TV asking who is going to help Kawhi Leonard send Kevin Durant into Free Agency to hopefully never win another ring (with the Knicks), I begin to realize… this is what it feels like to everyone else.
It’s interesting. Being able to walk in someone else’s shoes is one thing, but being able to swivel between two worlds is… even more beneficial. The Boston Bruins are playing against the St. Louis Blues in this year’s Stanley Cup Finals. This is Boston’s 20th appearance in the Cup Finals. On the other side of the ice is a franchise who has gone nearly 50 years in between Finals appearances.
So here I sit, watching the Kawhi and Kyle Lowry take the Raptors into the locker room at Oracle Arena with a lead, but knowing full well that the Golden State Warriors are going to punch them in the mouth coming in the third quarter. And yet, when the Raptors emerged unscathed going into the fourth, it still felt like there was too much breathing room, the door was left unlocked, the window open…
And as the final seconds wound down, and the Raptors emerged victorious, the feeling is not of triumph, it’s relief. The Raptors defeated the Warriors in Game 3, but Game 4 would be a different story, a different battle, the same war.
With their tails between their legs, down 2-1, the Warriors entered Game 4 as if they were the favorites yet again. After the Game 3 loss, Draymond Green spoke to the media.
“Everybody wants to see us lose. We just got to continue to battle. Win the next game, go back to Toronto, win Game 5, come back to Oracle [Arena], win Game 6 and then celebrate. Fun times ahead.”
After going down 2-1 in the series, and with Kevin Durant on the bench, the Warriors should be on the ropes, right? Then why does it always feel like they’re regaining strength, wiping the blood from their mouth, and putting their gloves back up?
That fight was back on display in Game 4, as the Warriors took the first quarter 23-17, but failed to capitalize on their trademarked Third Quarter Dominance. The Raptors took Game 4 and headed North with only one win separating them from their first Championship in franchise history.
If the Raptors have dominated this series so far, then why does it feel like failure is imminent? Why does it feel like the Golden State Warriors are going to pull an Undertaker and come back to life after lying breathless on the mat?
Is that what it feels like when Tom Brady has the ball with time left on the clock? Is that how it felt when David Ortiz stepped into the box in October? I have to assume it is, because much like Boston in the world of sports, these Warriors are suffocating and dominant.