Last year the Golden State Warriors became the first team in NBA history to give up a 3-1 lead and lose the NBA Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In the process LeBron fulfilled his promise to bring a championship back to his hometown and the Warriors ended a historic season on the sourest of notes. Following game seven a championship parade happened, JR Smith didn’t wear a shirt for weeks, Richardson Jefferson retired and un-retired roughly 72 hours later, and all was well in The Land.
Two weeks passed.
Then Kevin Durant signed with the Golden State Warriors and the rest is history.
All season long Durant was the recipient of criticism from the casual fan to the media elite for choosing the easy road in joining a 73-win team in his quest for a ring, rather than continue to fight through the beast of a Western Conference with his running mate Russell Westbrook.
Keep talking – Kevin isn’t listening anymore.
Through all the talk the Warriors, especially Durant, persevered. There was no repeat of last year’s record breaking win numbers and yet all season long a rematch with Cleveland seemed inevitable. After the two teams coasted through their respective conference playoffs, no one really knew what to expect for the end of the trilogy. In act one LeBron’s sidekicks were injured as the Cavs were outgunned in 6 games. Then in act two after a record breaking year the best regular season team in NBA history let the finals, and a 3-1 lead, get away from them in 7 games. Act three had a lot to live up to and did not disappoint.
To start the Warriors came out swinging, defending their home court en route to a 2-0 lead heading back to Cleveland. The series looked more competitive during a back and forth game three until Golden State ended the game on an 11-0 run to take the lead for good. That run included a pull-up three in transition from Durant that gave the Warriors an edge they would not give up. Game four had enough memorable moments to last a whole series. A chippy and very physical game produced seven technical fouls, Cleveland made 24 threes and scored 49 points in the first quarter, 86 points in the first half (both records), and the Cavs avoided the sweep. Suddenly the series sat at 3-1 again. Yes 3-1 just like it was last year when the Warriors couldn’t close out the Cavs. But those ghosts of last year’s finals wouldn’t come to fruition as the Warriors hosted the Larry O’Brien trophy after game 5 as your 2017 NBA Champions.
Through all five games the Cavs never had an answer for Durant who was spectacular in his first NBA Championship victory. Durant averaged 35 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists per game. He also received a the NBA Finals MVP Award even though some pundits were quick to point out LeBron James’s accomplishments in being the first player to average a triple-double in the Finals (double digit stats in three categories).
Yes Kevin Durant took the easy road. Yes he joined a team that won 73 games and lost game 7 of the previous year’s NBA Finals. Yes you cannot like the decision, Durant or the Golden State Warriors. But do not be naïve and think that this is anything other than the next evolution of the super team. Boston’s big three, Miami’s big three, Cleveland’s big three and now the Golden State’s big four. The bar has been set and now GM’s all over the country need to take a hard look at their roster, the upcoming draft and impending free agency. The puzzle pieces are out there for several NBA teams to allow their teams to compete. Paul George, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Gordon Haywood may all be on the move this offseason among others. For Cleveland it’s banana boat time for LeBron as he now reigns as NBA’s king without a crown but he and the Cavs will be back again next season.
For now one thing is certain. You can keep your opinion. Kevin Durant is keeping his ring.
Written by: Harry