* Thursday on ABC: NBA Finals, Game 1 (9 ET)
OAKLAND, Calif. – If you don’t like another round of Warriors-Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, just wait a few minutes, relatively speaking.
Obviously that paraphrase of the old Mark Twain quote about New England weather swaps minutes for years as it pertains to this Finals IV of Golden State vs. Cleveland for the league’s 2018 championship.
But this stuff flies by so fast – on the calendar, we haven’t hit three years yet since Team LeBron and Team Curry met in the 2015 Finals, with the opener of that one on June 4.
And for those who still might feel bored by the sameness of the matchup, rest assured, says Golden State general manager Bob Myers. Change is coming, inevitably so.
I definitely know this is ending. I don’t need any reminders. I know a lot of people in the Bay Area think this is going to go on forever. On the record, it won’t.”
Warriors GM Bob Myers
“I definitely know this is ending,” Myers said Wednesday, talking with reporters on the floor at Oracle Arena on the eve of Game 1. “I don’t need any reminders. I know a lot of people in the Bay Area think this is going to go on forever. On the record, it won’t.
“It can’t. Nothing does,” Myers continued. “Especially in a sport where the competition is so great. There’s financial pressures. There’s all kinds of things – injuries, personalities, everything, that don’t allow you to… No team should last forever. It’s not good for anybody.”
Fans of the Warriors and the Cavaliers would argue otherwise, but there is a reason what we’re seeing now – two franchises butting heads for the fourth consecutive time in a championship round – never has happened in the four major U.S. professional sports.
Staying on top, holding teams together, overcoming injuries, coping with age and egos and constant challenges from a field of rivals can wear even on a champion. Notice how both the Warriors and the Cavaliers worked through less-than-fulfilling regular seasons and had to overcome 2-3 deficits in the conference finals to reach this stage this time.
“I didn’t need a reminder from Houston to know how fragile this whole thing is,” Myers said. “That’s part of it. That’s why you’ve got to appreciate it. The notion that these things go on forever? At one point, players get older. Teams get broken up. It always happens. You never know when.”
Invariably, that sizes up an executive in Myers’ position for a black hat. He is the one charged with renewal, which often means shedding players with whom fans have fallen in love through the high times. Or maybe Myers ends up as the bad guy because he doesn’t refresh the roster soon enough and a team of former champs gets old together.
“My day’s coming at some point,” said Myers, one of the NBA’s acclaimed “golden boys” through this Warriors run. “Everybody gets hammered for something they do or not. It’s part of the deal. Who knows? You’d like to treat the players with respect – they’ve earned it. Our fans are very important. You just do the best you can.
“I had no idea we were going to win any championships. … Every decision, signing players, keeping a team together is difficult. Not keeping a team together is difficult. Making trades, not making trades. It’s all part of it.”
So give it time. Change will come.
Now, for how that relates to this Finals and its opponents, so familiar with each other and to the world, the real question ought to be: What was the alternative? Should Cleveland and Golden State have laid down and gotten out of the way of new blood just … because?
“It may not be as suspenseful as a lot of people want it to be or as drama-filled, but that’s what you’ve got movies and music for,” Golden State’s Kevin Durant said. “I think this is a great display of basketball on the court from both sides, and if you’re a real lover of the game, you can enjoy how both teams play it, even though it may be different.
“It’s still organic and true to the game, pure to the game. So if you enjoy basketball, I don’t feel like you should have any complaints because it’s a great set of players on both teams.”
Teams have had their opportunities to beat the Cavs over the last four years, and teams have had the opportunities to beat the Warriors over the last four years. If you want to see somebody else in the postseason, then you got to beat them.”
Cavs star LeBron James
Cleveland star LeBron James was more blunt and business-focused. A Rockets-Celtics Finals might offer new storylines and fresh faces, but there’s always appeal – and marketability – to the defending champions taking on the game’s best player, again. And again.
“You’ve got to ask Adam Silver,” James said, referencing the NBA commissioner as the fellow whose opinion matters most on the sameness of this Finals. Then he elaborated.
“Teams have had their opportunities to beat the Cavs over the last four years, and teams have had the opportunities to beat the Warriors over the last four years,” James said. “If you want to see somebody else in the postseason, then you got to beat them.”
Warriors guard Klay Thompson echoed that view. “I think the rest of the NBA has got to get better,” he said. “It’s not our fault.
“The only people I hear saying that are fans from other teams, which is natural. I don’t blame them. But as long as our fan base is happy, that’s all that matters.”
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