The Golden State Warriors, who once offered us Bobby Sura as a starting guard on a 61-loss team, who once offered us Danny Fortson as a starting forward on a 65-loss team, who once offered us Jason Caffey as a starting forward on a 63-loss team, are the defending NBA champions and back in the NBA Finals for a fourth consecutive season.
So how in the name of P.J. Carlesimo is the buzz level only about a ‘5’ on a scale of ‘1 to 10’?
Yes, LeBron James is an intergalactic alien, and every chance we get to see him play should be treasured, DVR’ed and stored in our memory banks.
But every sharp in Las Vegas and in every state waiting to legalize gambling knows that this NBA Finals contains about as much suspense as waiting for the next ‘Roseanne’ episode on ABC.
Spoiler alert: There are no more ‘Roseanne’ episodes on ABC.
Spoiler alert, part two: The Warriors are going to win the NBA Championship. Again.
And that should be cause for rejoicing, rightfully. Let those dance parties at Oracle rock away. Let the Swaggy P-at-Lake Merritt Show begin. Let Klay bring Rocco the dog on a float. Every long-suffering Warriors fan should pray to the basketball gods with the chant: “Thy kingdom come, Chris Cohan’s reign is done … “
It’s just that, much like the old 49ers-Cowboys NFC Championship tilts of the early 1990s, the Western Conference Finals were the true championship of the NBA. The 65-win Houston Rockets fought gamely, but ultimately were too one-dimensional, and too bereft without Chris Paul. The Warriors, the best team in the NBA, deserved to win, and deserve to win the title again.
And now that the Finals are here, I’d love a little variety on the other end of the basketball court. To quote the all-conquering Joe Lacob: “Sort of tired of Cleveland, to be honest.”
Now, if Kyrie Irving were still in Cleveland? We’d have a different story. We’d have a Cleveland team looking to come in and mess with the Warriors legacy. We’d have a Cleveland team that isn’t the biggest NBA Finals underdog in 17 years, since the Kobe-Shaq Lakers laid waste to the overmatched Allen Iverson-and-nobody Philadelphia 76ers.*
(* = Quick! Name at least one of the other four starters on the 2001 Eastern Conference champion 76ers. Time’s up: Aaron McKie, Tyrone Hill, Jumaine Jones and Dikembe Mutombo.)
Kevin Love is an All-Star, yes. Jeff Green can be decent off the bench, yes. Tristan Thompson’s body means we may get to see my favorite non-Hamptons Five Warrior of them all, Zaza Pachulia, fog a mirror again. All true.
But if this were the baby Boston Celtics coming to town, we’d have some interesting historical pedigree to talk about — better dynasty? Bird Celtics or Steph Warriors? — and we’d have the intrigue of fresh blood and the coaching acumen of Brad Stevens. Yes, the Warriors would win that series, too, but it would feel different. It would look different. It would have a different energy. It’d be a ‘9’ out of ’10’, just for the uniforms alone.
Alas, this is a time where the NBA Finals isn’t set to be one of the all-time greats. LeBron and the Pips can only hang with the Warriors for so long. It’s just how it works sometimes. Not every championship series is an all-time classic.
The banner will look pretty sweet up at Oracle to tip off the old barn’s swan song season, though.