Ah, the NBA finals, it’s the time of year where the true stars come out to play and lay it all out on the line for one thing, the Larry O’Brien Trophy. For the third year in a row, these Finals feature the two most dominate teams in the league, the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Many are complaining that this trilogy is “bad for the league” and that there is a “lack of parody”. But quite frankly, this is actually the best thing for the NBA, who wouldn’t want to see a match-up loaded with stars such as LeBron, Durant, Steph, Kyrie, Klay, and K-Love? Not to mention some unpredictable personalities on both teams like J.R. Smith and Draymond Green. This new rivalry of the NBA is awesome for the league not only on the court, but off the court as well. Clearly viewers and fans can see there is some bad-blood on the court between both squads. Each match-up in the past three seasons has provided fireworks with tons of chippy play, physicality, and intensity. While Off the court is just as entertaining, after an entire year of constant criticism of the Warriors losing a 3-1 lead to LeBron and company, filled with jokes that surfaced social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, Forward Draymond Green and the Warriors have had enough. During this season Green was asked about the Cleveland Cavaliers and a possibly facing them in the finals for the third time. His response, “I want to destroy Cleveland… I want to annihilate them.”
Now how does this battle between two giants compare to other great bad-blood rivalries in the NBA and in the Pop-culture world?
In the NBA, there has been some classic rivalries, especially come playoff time. Obviously Lakers vs Celtics sticks out in the minds of many, with such memorable match-ups like Russell’s Celtics vs Chamberlain’s Lakers, Magic vs Bird, and even Kobe Bryant’s Lakers vs Paul Pierce’s Celtics. The Bad-Boy Pistons vs Jordan’s up and coming Bulls was another great duel, during the playoffs in the late 80’s that featured superstars such as Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas. Yet, The Warriors-Cavs match-up to many viewers might even eclipse some of the legendary rivalries in the past.
To put it in perspective, this is the most star-filled match-up in NBA history, featuring seven all-stars, four players who made All-NBA teams, and three former MVP’S. Wow. With the league changing, even role players for both teams have former All-Stars and Olympic Gold Medalists with Cavaliers Guard Deron Williams and Warriors Forward Andre Iguodala. Viewers have not seen such as series with such recognizable faces all on one court. Each game will have so much more to offer with so many stars.
When it comes to the Pop-Culture aspect, the Warriors-Cavs match-up is comparable to many great rivalries in music and in movies. In music the one beef that comes to mind is the Tupac vs Biggie rivalry of the 90’s. Each rapper had their own style, just as LeBron James and Stephen Curry have their unique play-styles and represented their cliques and the state that they’re from to the fullest. Each were icons in the rap game as well, everybody who was anybody in the East Coast-West Coast rap era knew who Pac and B.I.G. were. Same with Golden State and Cleveland, everybody knows that the Cavs and the Warriors are the two best teams in the league. Not to mention everybody who watches basketball knows that Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and LeBron James are three of the biggest names in the sport today. Many who are not even fans of basketball know all three athletes due to advertising and sponsorship’s. No matter who your favorite rapper was back then, many chose sides to represent 2Pac or B.I.G. That’s how much of an impact they had on the rap game, and it is the same with the Warriors-Cavs rivalry. Meaning, no matter what team you truly root for, at the end of the day you are going to have to choose, Golden State or Cleveland.
In the movie realm, the Warriors-Cavs matchup is just like many iconic and legendary rivalries that make fans choose a side. Some of those memorable battles of foes include Luke vs Darth Vader (Star Wars), an epic battle between the Dark-Side and Light-Side, which embodies everything of a legendary rivalry, the Good vs the Evil (depending on which team you are rooting for). Batman vs Superman is another legendary rivalry that portrays the Warriors-Cavs to a tee. Both are heroes in their own right, fighting crime and saving the world but with different styles and powers.
The Warriors represent Batman, a strategist that can use different tactics and gadgets to ultimately destroy whatever is in his path, with Curry, Thompson, Durant, and Green in one starting lineup, GSW is looking more Bruce Wayne than ever, so many different schemes that can knock ‘King’ James off his feet. Now if Golden State is Batman, LeBron and company represent, Superman a superhero who can literally do everything and anything. Superman has super-strength, the ability to fly anywhere, super-speed, vision powers, and pretty much anything else you could think of, with limited weaknesses. Sound familiar? LeBron James is the NBA’s Superman, James is the most versatile player in the world and needs to be Clark Kent every single game of the Finals in order for his team to have the best chance to win. When Superman (LeBron) is low on energy, he needs his supporting cast to step up in the spot light, Kyrie has the ability to take over stretches of games and close out with crunch time shooting.
The Warriors-Cavs trilogy is going to go down as one of the greatest showdowns in NBA history on and off the court. The rivalry will always live on and become synonymous with Bird vs Magic and Biggie vs Tupac. As for predictions of the series, it will come down to another Game 7 and I believe that the Cleveland Cavaliers edge the Golden State Warriors to win the NBA title going back to back.
As the Migos once said, “Do it for the Culture”, and there is no question that these two teams are doing it.
Written by Daniel Malakismail