Tomorrow evening, the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Golden State Warriors in a renewal of the rivalry that has developed since the two teams met for the NBA title in 2014-15.
Steve Kerr’s Warriors won that one in six games, and immediately after Draymond Green commented before their victory parade that the Cavs “sucked”.
Before the Warriors played their regular season game in 2015-16 at Quicken Loans Arena, Stephen Curry said he hoped the visitor’s locker room still smelled like champagne.
Did we mention that when Golden State won the championship, they defeated a Cleveland team without Kevin Love for the entire series, and without Kyrie Irving for all but the first game.
We believe that anyone would rank those two in the top 30 NBA players currently in the league.
Then in last year’s Finals after taking a 3-1 series lead, Klay Thompson of the Warriors commented that LeBron James may have gotten his feelings hurt in Game 4, won by Golden State.
Klay’s squad never won another game in the series.
Thompson commented this week that the Cavs’ actions after coming back to win the title last summer were childish.
Reportedly, at a Halloween Party thrown by James, there were cookies with tombstones with Warriors’ players names on them, and you had to walk over a doll in the likeness of Curry to get through the entrance.
On the other hand, publicly, you never hear a Cavalier player say anything bad about the team they played in each of the last two Finals.
James went out of his way after Friday night’s win over Sacramento to say Golden State has been the best team in the league over the last two years, and the Cavs were just trying to get better.
Some joy from the Cavaliers gets out every once in a while, like Thompson mocking Green’s comments the year prior during the Cleveland victory parade, but for the most part, the Cavs give the Warriors the respect they deserve as a great team.
You just don’t hear that out of the Golden State players, and even Steve Kerr mocked the Quicken Loans Arena scoreboard last week. (NOTE: We think “The Diff” is stupid too.)
On the other hand, James talks up the other players in the league a lot. Perhaps he is using it to soften his opponents, but we genuinely believe he is a fan of the game, and respects the talents of other great players.
When asked earlier in the year about averaging a triple-double, James said he doubted he could do it now, but quickly added that Russell Westbrook could.
Granted we get more coverage of the Cavs than the Warriors, but when was the last time you heard Curry or another Golden State player comment about how good another player in the NBA was?
We also believe other people involved in the NBA are getting tired of the hype surrounding Golden State. Recently, Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers reminded the press that the Warriors have only won one title.
Some of this stems from ESPN’s continuing coverage of anything blue and gold, despite “defending champs” missing from the Golden State story. Some of that is due to the high profile free agent signing of Kevin Durant this summer.
And of course, the four letter network loves to climb on a bandwagon.
If the Cavs win tomorrow, we are sure the players will talk about a great win against a great team to finish off a long trip.
If the Warriors win, we are anxious to see if there will be any humility after losing the title last season. Or will they trash talk some more giving James and his teammates more motivation if the two teams meet for a third time in June.
Either way, the newest rivalry in professional basketball writes another chapter tomorrow. It’s not just another game.