Of course, you knew I’d have to talk about the NBA Finals this morning. However, you also knew that I’d be talking about it from the perspective of a Cleveland fan. Thanks for joining us this Friday here at WFNY.
I’ve dreamed of the Warriors being knocked from their throne. Ever since the Cavaliers won and the Warriors engaged the cheat code that was getting Kevin Durant in free agency, they’ve been so good that it just felt unfair. They got lucky with some structural things that allowed them to build that team and you can slice and dice their origin story however you want to make them seem more or less noble, but it never felt fair. Then, this off-season they signed Boogie Cousins, albeit coming off an Achilles injury, and it absolutely made me livid to see more talent — even talent that might be six months away — flocking to the same place like flies to a burning hot light bulb. Kawhi Leonard and a scrappy crew of Toronto Raptors ended their run, and they should be given credit, but the Warriors have been so dominant that it’s not even really about them. Even as I am happy to see the Warriors unseated, it’s not wholly satisfying.
Injuries happen, but not often like what happened to the Warriors this year. The Warriors have obviously benefitted from injuries in their title runs — most notably when Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving were both out in 2015 — but that doesn’t mean they “deserved” to lose KD to an Achilles tear, and Klay Thompson to an ACL tear in back-to-back Finals games. I wanted to see the Warriors lose. I don’t have sympathy per se, because injuries happen to everyone, but I have empathy just the same? There’s a difference between sympathy and empathy. I’d have sympathy for the Warriors if they’d never won a title and injuries stole away their best chance at one. I have empathy for any team that suffers horrible injuries, but they’ll be fine with their run and their futures.
And that’s probably what makes this most bittersweet of all. The loss this season, and the injuries that fueled the loss might very well be the thing that keeps the Warriors the most dominant NBA team for the next five years if everything goes their way. If the Warriors are able to retain both Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson and they happen to both miss massive amounts of time next season, it could be another perfect storm like the one that brought KD in the first place. The Warriors will have a mulligan season where they might very well get a nice draft pick. They’ll still be in cap hell, but they’ll be ready to come back and start a brand new run with the full complement of their stars and a more seasoned group of role players who had a full season to play in place of those injured stars. Maybe not, but it could happen.
I never thought I would have cared this much about an NBA Finals that didn’t involve the Cavaliers. At the same time, because the Cavaliers went to so many Finals against these Warriors, it felt like a continuation of our own storyline even though the LeBron-led Cavaliers are dead and buried. I can’t wait to see where it goes next and thanks to the Raptors, it finally feels like anything could happen in the NBA again now that the Warriors lost.