The Warriors continued ruining the NBA on Sunday night, dismantling the Cavaliers in Game 2 to take a 2–0 lead in the Finals, all of this happening despite another sublime performance from LeBron James. Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson all had big games for Golden State, which is looking every bit as unfair as most people expected when it added Durant last July.
While KD has been sensational so far during the Finals, his performance is a little difficult to appreciate, in large part because greatness looks so easy when you're Kevin Durant and you have a handful of All-Star teammates. James, on the other hand, is doing his best Atlas impression, putting the Cavaliers on his shoulders and carrying struggling teammates like J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Tristan Thompson. While Durant's Hall-of-Fame cast is clicking, LeBron's had to do most of the heavy lifting himself, and the only intrigue in this series is seeing if he can pull off another massive upset.
There is one person not impressed by all of this, however, and it’s James’s old Eastern Conference nemesis: Paul Pierce. The former Celtics star is doing TV work for ABC, and after Game 2, he suggested Durant—not James—is the best basketball player in the world.
Look, can you make an argument for Durant? Sure. But what has LeBron done in these two games to make anyone think he is not the best player on the planet? Cleveland falls apart when James sits for so much as a minute. He’s not only averaging a triple double for the series, he’s posted a double double in the first half of each game. Watching James relentlessly attack the rim Sunday was breathtaking. On the list of reasons why Cleveland is down 2–0, LeBron doesn’t even qualify.
So what could have inspired Pierce to say James is no longer the game’s best player—even though LeBron is having arguably the best postseason of his career? Surely it has nothing to do with Pierce and James’s longstanding rivalry. There’s no way it has anything to do with LeBron knocking Pierce out of the playoffs the last three times they met. And, of course, Pierce still isn’t upset James cooked him for 49 points in a closeout game after Pierce proudly proclaimed he asked to defend LeBron.
In all seriousness, Pierce seems like a remnant of the faction of people who will never get over The Decision, a group who deny James’s greatness when they get even the slightest chance. A two-game sample in the Finals has not changed who the best player in the world is. Durant is probably No. 2, and perhaps Pierce got caught up in the hype of another sensational performance from KD. But if there’s one lesson to be taken away from these two lopsided games to start the series, it’s this: Don’t let the collective greatness of the Warriors make you forget LeBron James is the greatest basketball player alive. After all, they had to team up for a chance to take him down.