Dribbles: Cavs, Warriors making rivalry memories

Sam Amico

Random dribbles on the Cavaliers, who are just four days away from opening the Finals at Golden State.

1. First things first. Both LeBron James and Kevin Love have talked confidently during media skirmishes following Cavaliers practices, saying the type of things fans want to hear and the players really believe.

2. Love to reporters: "The whole underdog thing is funny to me because, yeah, at the end of the day we are defending our title."

3. James to reporters: "I feel good about our chances. Very good."

4. Both players are also well aware of Draymond Green's comments at the beginning of the season, when he said he wanted his Warriors to "annihilate" the Cavs should the teams meet in the Finals.

5. Well, here we are. Cavs. Warriors. Buckle up.

6. Or as Love said, "He wanted us, he has us, starting Thursday."

7. When people talk about the Cavs and Warriors, the old Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers are often mentioned. It sure seems that way lately. And more specifically, people are talking about the Celtics and Lakers of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.

8. I'm old enough to have seen and appreciate both rivalries. I was actually able to pay more attention to those Celtics and Lakers -- since those Finals too place before I had a wife, three children, a lawn to mow, or anything at all to worry about other than perhaps the typical teenage dramas.

9. And yes, I think these Cavs-Warriors matchups are similar to those Celtics-Lakers in many ways.

10. For one, these teams don't care for each other. They really don't. Green, Steph Curry, and especially, Klay Thompson, are not in LeBron's inner circle. In fact, they're not even on the outskirts of LeBron's circle -- or on the outskirts of the outskirts. The Warriors do not care for the Cavs, and the feeling is entirely mutual.

11. Granted, LeBron and Kevin Durant did hang out and hold an offseason workout in James' hometown of Akron a few years back, and the two men do admire each other. It's highly unlikely you will see them getting chippy with the other, but they will go after it ... much like Bird and Magic back in the day. They got along well after filming a commercial together in 1984, and later became great friends. But man, they sure did compete when their teams went head-to-head.

12. Actually, I've always said LeBron reminds me of the ultimate combination of Bird and Magic (or Magic and Bird, depending on your rooting interest). James can't shoot like Bird from the perimeter (or anywhere), nor can he handle the ball like Magic. But LeBron does see the floor, does thrive in the clutch, and does possess that take-over mentality (and ability) that made his predecessors so great. He also does some things Bird and Magic couldn't do.

13. Anyway, there are a lot of similarities between this rivalry and those great rivalries of the 1980s. Who can forget the "Memorial Day Massacre" of 1985? OK, I know a lot of you never even knew about it in the first place.

14. I'm positive that includes plenty of big-time writers who cover today's game -- and who often feel compelled to treat every fleeting moment like a threat to world peace.

15. Instead, it's just a bunch of basketball games that no one will remember in 30 years. Or 20. Or maybe 10. I might even go as far as to say no one will remember them in five.

16. Back to 1985. The Lakers were the heavy favorites to beat the Celtics for the title. But in Game 1, which just happened to take place on Memorial Day, the Celtics cruised to a 148-114 hammer job. Honestly, it didn't even feel that close.

17. Imagine that today. Imagine how things would sound on Twitter. Imagine all those TV shows featuring guys who spit their opinions into the camera. There was none of that back then.

18. Instead, everyone just sort of went about their lives and waited for the next game. And the Lakers bounced back to win Game 2 -- before claiming the series in six. It was a good lesson in that a series is never over until one team wins four games.

19. Yet another similarity, as the Warriors now understand that a 73-win regular season and a 3-1 lead in the Finals guarantee nothing.

20. Anyway, I've just sort of rambled on here with no real point. Just know that I hate comparing eras and I think the whole exercise is a big waste of time. But this rivalry rivals any I've ever seen, and I've seen what I once considered the best.

21. As for my take on individual matchups, who will win the series, and more ... well, plan on seeing that all within the next three days. We also have a column coming from former Cavs swingman Craig Ehlo. Talk to you soon.

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