Dribbles: It's Cavs and Warriors, Part III, oh my
Random dribbles on the Cavaliers, who eliminated the host Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals Thursday.
1. LeBron James said talking about the Golden State Warriors was "too stressful," and I'm with him on that one. The Finals are fun, but man, so much pressure. This is, after all, the rubber match.
2. Think about that. In a league once dominated by historical powers such as the Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers, we have the Cavs ... and the Warriors ... for the third straight time.
3. That's a first in NBA history and just the third time in major pro sports history. The last time it happened? Try 1954-56, when the NHL's Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens met for three consecutive Stanley Cup championships.
4. Then again, was it even called the Stanley Cup then? If there's one thing I'm always confused about, it's hockey.
5. Before that, it was the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions, who met for three straight NFL titles from 1952-54.
6. Yes, the Browns of the 1950s played for SIX STRAIGHT football titles -- and seven in eight years. Hard to believe when you think about the utter disarray of the franchise today.
7. Anyway, it's been a long time since a team from Cleveland has dominated its sport like today's Cavaliers. And no one has dominated their sport this decade like LeBron.
8. Think about it. James has been to SEVEN STRAIGHT Finals, and eight overall. It's the seven straight that's most impressive. It's also impressive when you think about how far the Cavs and Miami Heat almost immediately plummeted without him.
9. With eight Finals appearances, James passes the likes of Kobe Bryant and Bob Cousy. About all that is left is to try to catch Michael Jordan's six rings. Bryant has five. James has three.
10. Of course, as you know, James passed Jordan as the NBA's all-time leading playoff scorer Thursday. I know people talk about how many more games LeBron has played, blah, blah, blah. But let's not forget, LeBron looks to pass every bit as much as he looks to score.
11. What I'm saying is this -- greatness is greatness. Don't laugh off the accomplishments of either player. I've seen both men in their primes. I'd give the edge to Jordan. He played with a little bit more of a killer instinct. But I also admit that LeBron still has time to change my mind, and it will be determined in rings.
12. All this and I haven't even mentioned Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, or the Cavs' bench. I guess there is still plenty of time for that, as the Finals don't start until Thursday, June 1. (I've posted the full schedule here.) Just know that all will be utterly vital against the loaded Warriors.
13. As LeBron said, the Warriors won 73 games last season, had a 3-1 lead in the Finals, and added Kevin Durant. Yikes, yikes and double yikes if you're the rest of the NBA.
14. At the same time, the Cavs have LeBron. The Warriors don't. Yikes, yikes and triple yikes if you're the rest of the NBA.
15. I watched the final episode of the excellent "Inside the NBA" on TNT following the Cavs-Celtics game. Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal picked the Cavs. Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith went with the Warriors.
16. There is plenty of bad blood between these teams. For as much as James praises the Warriors, he's not a fan of Steph Curry, Draymond Green or especially, Klay Thompson. If you remember, it was Thompson who said it was a "man's league" after James got kicked where it counts in Game 4 by Green. The Warriors didn't beat the Cavs again.
17. The Cavs know for as much adoration as Green gets from the national media, he is a ticking time bomb who can self-destruct at any moment. They will try to get under his skin. When he implodes, the rest of the Warriors can sometimes go with him.
18. But this is great basketball, and fans really should try not to get caught up in all the social media trash talk and just appreciate it. This isn't going to happen forever. Cleveland and the Bay Area own the NBA. Embrace it while it lasts.