SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – We know the criticisms: “too many foul calls” and “only the last five minutes of the game really count.” We’ll forgive you if those gripes keep you from watching the average regular season game. But now we’ve reached the NBA Finals, and this one is unlike any we’ve seen, maybe ever. People are going to be talking about this at work, and you don’t want to be left out. If you’ve completely skipped the season to this point, here’s why you should tune in now to watch the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors battle for basketball supremacy:
We Like Droughts To End
Like rooting for the underdog? You’re in luck. These teams were two of THE WORST in the NBA for a long, long time. Sure, there were some great players – Chris Mullin, Brad Daugherty – but there were a lot more NBA Draft Lottery picks (remember when the Warriors picked Todd Fuller ahead of Kobe Bryant? ouch!). The Warriors haven’t donned the NBA crown since underhand-shooting Rick Barry brought it home in 1975. The City of Cleveland hasn’t won a major sports title since the Browns won the 1964 NFL Championship. That’s before they were calling them Super Bowls, folks.
After this series, one of these teams starts disappearing from those “Worst Franchises in NBA History” lists. One deserving group of fans will see a lifetime drought end, the other will be crushed. That kind of drama beats the Mad Men reruns you were planning on watching.
When the league’s biggest star left his native Ohio to “take his talents” (and all hopes of an NBA Title) to Miami in 2010, Cleveland fans burned Lebron James’ jersey in the streets. They felt betrayed by their native son, who went on to appear in four finals and win two crowns with the Heat. When he decided to come home last offseason, most fans welcomed him eagerly, but that was with the expectation of getting a title in Cleveland. If he really wants to cement his reputation as Ohio’s sports savior, he has to host a title parade. Who knows when he’ll get another chance.
LeBron is still the game’s most recognizable player, but is he the best liked? Newly-minted league MVP Stephen Curry beat out LeBron in the All-Star game voting this season, and he’s been quietly creeping up in the race for most popular jersey. People scoffed last offseason when Steph said he considered himself a more dangerous offensive player than James. But nobody is laughing now that he broke is own record for three pointers made in a season while running the league’s most efficient offense. If Steph is planning on becoming the new face of the NBA he’s going to have to take the crown from “King James.” And this will be his most visible opportunity to do that.
Riley Is A Riot
Even if Curry becomes the most popular NBA name, he probably won’t be the best loved character in his own house. Curry has been bringing his young daughter to his press conferences and, as the video shows, Riley Curry got every drop of her dad’s star power.
“I think she’s taking advantage of the moment. She’s way too comfortable, ” Curry said Wednesday.
Win or lose, we probably haven’t seen the last of Riley in the spotlight.
All Time Greats?
Warriors fans – who refer to themselves as DubNation – know they’re watching something special. They saw the franchise win its most games ever, lose only two home games and earn votes for every major award. But that doesn’t fully explain how rare this season has been. If the Warriors end this run with four more wins they’ll likely end up as the 3rd best team – based on a widely-used rating system known as ELO – in Basketball history. Here’s more on how that was determined from stat guru Nate Silver. The only two teams better had a guy named Michael Jordan on them.
The series gets started next Thursday in Oakland.