I’ve said it before in this series and I’ll say it again – WHAT. A. GAME.
This was everything we heard as we kept getting deeper into this series as questions kept on pushing the narrative that one team needs to step up and make this thing competitive.
Well, on the last day of the NBA season with everything on the line we, the fans of the NBA, were gifted a Game 7. But not just any Game 7, this was unlike anything that would ever be witnessed – and it was all thanks to storylines.
So with everything this game burdened as the 48th minute buzzer drowned out Oracle it’s only right we should break this down from the top.
The tale of the tape:
73-9 Record Regular Season
It was all the rave throughout the 2015-2016 season as the Warriors had the most historic regular season in NBA history. Coming into the playoffs the quote that the Chicago Bulls popularised back when they were heading to the 1996 Finals was revived. With 73 wins it only fuelled the notion that without the championship the Warriors season would somehow be void or at the very least there’d be an asterisk in the conversation of best teams ever.
The 2015 NBA Finals
This storyline doesn’t really need to be re-told as it stayed fresh in the minds of NBA fans throughout the season and as other teams tried to creep into the playoff picture. The rematch was something that was increasingly becoming the expectation but at times became a maybe not. In the end however, the injury comments that left the salty taste in the Cavs fans needed to be rectified like a justice needed to be served that could only be provided by an even playing field of a full roster (or at least the star players).
If you didn’t already know Steph Curry capped off his 2016 season by becoming a 2-time MVP. This comes right after LeBron James did the same down in Miami adding to his already 2 MVP trophies. I know what your thinking – so? and what of it? – the reason why this is even became a topic was due to the questioning of Curry’s true value to the team he plays on in contrast to LeBron’s value. It was a position on the argument that raised the eyebrows of many who may have been blindsided by the the sheer celebration (supported by the media) that was the play of Stephen Curry and the success of the Warriors throughout the entire season. So what possible storyline could become of this as we enter the NBA Finals? Simple. Who really is the MVP in the NBA?
Cleveland’s Championship Drought and LeBron’s 3rd Finals as a Cavalier
Cleveland’s championship woes were never more magnified when LeBron left Cleveland after only making it to the NBA Finals once in 2007 (where they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs) before his 2010 departure. With LeBron gone it sure seemed that just about everyone not named Dan Gilbert was doubtful of their chances to even sniff another NBA Finals let alone a championship. As it would turn out, LeBron would return to his hometown after a 4 straight NBA Finals appearance stint with the Miami Heat in hopes to now bring the newly acquired winning experience to Cleveland. Hope was all the buzz in “The Land” as LeBron geared the franchise from the moment he arrived.
So what have we learnt?
We learnt that 73-9 is not void but the Warriors place in NBA History clearly took a hit as they not only lost in the Finals, but the lost while being up 3-1 in the series allowing Cleveland to write their own history being the only team in NBA Finals history to even comeback from being down 3-1.
We learnt that the 2015 were definitely not in favour of the Cavs, and even after this game we can say that this year didn’t favour the Warriors at times. Overall we should know by now that things like injuries, suspensions etc. are all apart of the playoffs and they add to the stories that have been written by past champions throughout the years.
We learnt that the MVP award may hold a new meaning in the ever-changing NBA landscape and that perhaps that this year it could be questioned and with validity in relation to what criteria the award consists of.
Finally, we were re-educated that LeBron has done some amazing things in this league since his arrival in 2003. All the records he has either broken or made his way into the top 15, top 10 or even top 3 can no longer be denied or brushed aside. We know now that his perspective on the game was nothing like Michael or Kobe and that he doesn’t care that you constantly find a reason to keep him far from the comparison.
Most of all, we must realise that by winning this championship LeBron has cemented his legacy for the rest of his career and for Curry and the Warriors their story is not finished but rather met a force that was just plain better. After all of this, we can all agree that these storylines, regardless of the side you argue, helped build one of the best NBA Finals in a while.