This is a silly thing to discuss, granted, but it is a long season and we need something to sustain us after the Warriors and Cavaliers met for the final time—until June, we hope and pray, at which time everything that’s been said by everyone on either time will be dredged up and injected into the most narrative-laden Finals ever contested. (“Narrative” is not a bad word, mind you.)
On Sunday, LeBron James answered a question on the Cleveland-Golden State “rivalry” by stating his belief that this isn’t really a rivalry.
“I don’t think we have a rival in our game today,” James said after Cavs practice Sunday. “We’ve had two great Finals appearances the last two years, but I had the same with San Antonio when I was in Miami. We weren’t rivals. And I think I played those guys more, so I wouldn’t look at it as rivals.”
Fair and unobjectionable.
Then, after Golden State completely pantsed the Cavs last night, Draymond Green answered a question on James’s comments with his own views.
“Yeah, I think this is a rivalry,” Green said quickly, not allowing a reporter to finish his question. “It’s definitely fun. A team that you beat, beat you, it’s definitely fun. If you look at the last two years and this year, we’ve been the top two teams in the league each year, and so I look at it as a rivalry, and it’s definitely a fun game to play in.
“But I don’t really care if anyone else sees the game the way I see it. I see how I see it, and they can see it how they see it.”
Also fair and unobjectionable.
Here is my take! (Please share your takes below. Everybody gets a take!) “Rivalry” is a weird, nebulous word that means different things to different people, to say nothing of the actual players vs. the fans. It’s tough for true familiarity and true hatred to form between teams from opposite conference that simply don’t play each other that often. But these aren’t normal circumstances. This is one of the best teams ever vs. one of the best players ever (with a damn good team behind him too), and when the story of the era of the NBA is told, it’ll be told through the lens of the Cavs vs. the Warriors. I declare a rivalry: extant.
Also my other take is that who cares, it’s just a word, this blog post was all just an excuse to direct you to the most 🔥🔥🔥💪💪💪 take that’s been written on this subject, a fan post from /r/warriors that even other Warriors fans are ashamed of. An excerpt:
I’m not here to argue a theory that winning isn’t everything. That’s way too ingrained in American society and capitalism to be worth the strokes of my keyboard. But what I will say is that the old, ruthless, hyper-masculine style of play is sometimes a poison to the new, team-based joy-centered style of play. The Cavs and the Warriors are less in a rivalry than they are in a struggle between two modes of being.
When the Cavs use every tool at their disposal to win, many of which are not in the realm of “basketball skills,” e.g. refs calling in their favor, Lebron using his NBA political capital to get Draymond suspended, we don’t look at the complexity of their Championship win, we just decide not to look like pussies and accept that they beat us. But there is more to the story, and it doesn’t change the fact that they beat us, but it adds some color to the picture of why it happened and why it’s STILL happening.
My take is that (1) yes, they beat us fair and square to become the champions last year, (2) they did not do so by being better at basketball, but rather by maintaining a psychological edge over us which they still maintain today, (3) their psychological edge mostly comes down to the fact that our system is based on positivity, sharing, and having fun, and their system is based on a brutal drive to win at any cost, which acts like a poison to us.
Go read the whole thing. I look forward to dragging this up every day during a Finals rubber match.