The Cleveland Cavaliers played a great Game Three. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving were spectacular. It wasn’t enough.
The Cavs still lost. Homecourt and a lights-out performance by their superstar weren’t enough to push them past the Golden State Warriors. The loss puts the Cavs in a 1-3 hole in the NBA Finals. Not exactly the best position to be in.
It’s not fair. It’s really not. Last year’s NBA Finals were dead even. It went to Game Seven and was decided by four points. Those two teams were about as even as they come. Warriors = Cavaliers.
Now, take Kevin Durant, the second-best player in the world, and put him on one side of the equation. Warriors + KD ≠ Cavaliers. It’s basic math.
Nonetheless, LeBron has been a good sport about it (at least for now while the series is still going on). He doesn’t think the Warriors are unfair. In fact, he can sympathize with their motives.
“You have an opportunity to sign one of the best players, and you can do it, go ahead and do it,” said James. “If I become an owner I’m going to try to sign everybody.”
Of course, no one is blaming the Warriors in this situation (or, at least, I would hope no one is). The team is always going to do what’s best for the team. Durant is the ass here.
And if I were LeBron, I’d be pissed. This was supposed to be his time, his era. He waited his turn while Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs and Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers won their rings. Then he created his own dynasty by teaming up with Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade on the Miami Heat.
Now, back in Cleveland, LeBron took a 20-win franchise (that he originally abandoned) and turned them into the dominant force in the Eastern Conference. They lost in the 2015 NBA Finals thanks to the absence of Irving and Kevin Love, but they bounced back with the win last year, and they had a good chance of defending.
You know, until Durant revealed his next chapter.
“I think it’s just part of my calling to go against teams in the midst of a dynasty,” said James. “This has been the best in our league the past three years. There have been times throughout my career where I just played teams that were in the midst of something that can last for a long time. Obviously, this team is built to be able to do that with the talent that they have.”
As LeBron pointed out after the game, the Warriors are the most talented team he’s ever faced. They have more firepower per lineup than anyone. Durant makes them near unstoppable. The Warriors still haven’t lost a game in the playoffs, and I have to question whether or not they were even trying in the regular season games they lost.
It hardly seems fair that a team would be able to start the playoffs 15-0 (likely 16-0 at this point). However, again, LeBron came to their defense when asked about the super team he cannot seem to get the best of.
“Is it fair? I don’t care,” said LeBron. “I think it’s great. It’s great for our league. Look at our TV ratings, looking at the money our league is pouring in. Guys are loving the game. Our fans love the game. Who am I to say if it’s fair or not?”
Well, you’re the guy playing them. And you’re playing out of your mind. MVP-caliber basketball. But you’re still getting blown out the water. I don’t think anyone would blame you for speaking your mind and telling the world that a team of Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green isn’t fair, especially with a rock-solid bench full of veterans.
But, with games left to be played, LeBron kept cool, calm, and collected.
“No matter who I’m going against, if I’m going against four Hall of Famers or I’m going against two or whatever the case may be, I’m always excited to play the game. And I’m not going to judge and say if it’s fair or not if guys are adding players to their team.”
Unfortunately, things won’t get much easier for LeBron. While the Warriors will continue to dominate, there is no reason to believe the Cavs will be able to make the roster moves necessary to compete. Meanwhile, the Boston Celtics are getting stronger with a No. 1 overall pick and the leverage to trade for a guy like Paul George.
Before this season I was completely convinced that LeBron would play out the rest of his career in Cleveland. Sadly, it looks like he’ll have no choice but to win another ring elsewhere.