(WTNH) — There is a constant theme I keep hearing about in any discussion regarding this year’s NBA Finals. It keeps ringing in my ears like the sound you get when someone pulls the fire alarm in high school to get out of a pop quiz. Fun for the student unprepared for the test, not so much for the delicate ears of the rest.
That topic being the consistent griping about the Golden State Warriors and how they should not have been able to sign Kevin Durant. A popular opinion, and sentiment that even the league’s own commissioner, Adam Silver, shared. These same sports pundits are saying that the Cleveland Cavaliers don’t have enough fire power to beat the Warriors.
Well, those critics would be half right. However, no one should have sympathy for the Cavs right now.
The two teams without Durant involved are pretty even. I would give the slight edge to the Warriors prior to the Durant signing. How the Cavs came back to win last year is beyond me. Had it not been for Draymond Green’s stupidity and the league suspending him for a game, I believe the Warriors would be the defending champions again going into this season. But give credit to the Cavs for wanting it more last year.
Despite their come-from-behind championship run in last year’s Finals, the Cavs don’t seem to have a team that can beat the Warriors this time around with the addition of Durant. But they are a very good team. They rolled through the brackets with only one loss until the Finals. They have three all-stars on their team, and have won a championship with that core group. And if you watch ESPN, you can’t avoid the greatest of all time debate that the network brings up every week during the NBA season about LeBron James.
Let’s also not forget that the Cavs this year turned into one of the elite 3-point shooting teams in the league. Entering the playoffs, they were ranked second in 3-pointers made, and second in 3-point percentage for the entire league. Ahead of the Warriors in both categories. So if there was a team this season to contend with the Warriors and their deadly range from behind the arc, we’ve got it with the Cavs.
So go ahead and cry about the unfair Finals matchup all you want. But don’t push for a rule change to prevent an organization from building a team.
Here’s how I look at it, and the way everyone else should too.
Commissioner Silver spoke up earlier in the season in a press conference talking about the Warriors and how the league is better off by not allowing an already high caliber team to sign a player like Durant.
He indicated that, while he respected the right for Durant to be free in deciding which team he wanted to play with, he was not supportive of the decision from a balanced league standpoint. Silver, on this topic, pointed out that the league is currently in a collective bargaining cycle where owners and union could talk about making the NBA better.
What exactly did the Warriors do that is so unfair? They put together a great team through the draft in selecting Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Green. Isn’t that the idea? The only apology the Warriors should be handing out is to the fans of the NBA, for the lack of foresight that most of the league’s owners missed the ball on by not drafting equally competitive teams.
The Cavs decided to put their team together in a different way. With the exception of Kyrie Irving, they acquired their stars through free agency and trades. And here’s why I’m not complaining about the talent level on the Cavs: It was LeBron that most likely put his team in place. I’m sure he had a say in bringing in the coach he wanted.
I’m sure he convinced his brass that Kevin Love was the man they needed. And after they lose to the Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals, it will be him again that brings in another player for the Cavs to sign in order to compete against Golden State.
I have no problem with how either team was assembled. For that matter, I wasn’t complaining when the Bulls signed Dennis Rodman in 1995. Actually, I don’t think anyone was. I think the common belief was that he would be too disruptive, and the Bulls would not be able to rein in his wild antics. But he was a fringe Hall of Famer at the time, joining two undisputed Hall of Famers.
I had no problem in 2007 when the Celtics acquired Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to help Paul Pierce win a title. Nor was I upset when LeBron himself joined forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami.
I think a case can be made that Durant might be one of the best players in the league to ever join forces with another club to help win a championship, provided they win the title. Shaquille O’Neal joining Kobe Bryant on the Lakers maybe the other comparable, or LeBron with the Heat. But Durant wasn’t THE best player in the league going into this season.
Now that the year has played out, James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, Russell Westbrook, and LeBron James have been the front runners for the MVP award. Durant is just another role player for the Warriors. Granted, a very, very good one, and he’s one of the league’s best. But you can’t sell me on the argument that the Warriors signing him is not fair. Nor can I listen to anyone that says the league is worse off because of it.
In a league when a brush of the arm constitutes as a foul these days, and there’s no longer a thing called traveling, the Durant signing is one of the few reasons I’ve been watching the playoffs thus far. It’s exciting to watch great team chemistry, ball movement, and one highlight reel after another with this Warriors team. Not to mention the defensive presence that Durant offers. Remember that NBA fans? Defense. It wins championships, is the old saying.
Every good battle story has a David and Goliath. What happens if the Cavs find a way to win the championship this season against the Warriors? Think about that dramatic scenario, and the ratings the NBA will receive. Even if the Cavs lose, which I fully expect them to, how much fun will it be to see them reboot with another player added for next season? If that’s the case, we’ll likely see the Warriors and Cavs again in the Finals. Goliath vs Goliath.
Tell me you wouldn’t tune in for that.