I have made a career out of covering championships, Super Bowls, World Series, Final Fours, Stanley Cups, NBA Finals and other championships. As the games become more global, it seems the little guy gets pushed to the side. Here I go again this week with the NBA Finals.
You got to love the NBA. It starts in late October and ends in June, this year with the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals again. I have a real challenge how to cover two World Championships at virtually the same time.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, winners of the NBA lottery twice in the last three years and a team that was not even in the playoffs last year, have been carried to the World Championship brink by the remarkable LeBron James. Cleveland was expected to be good — they traded with Minnesota, remember, getting all-star Kevin Love. Love has helped Cleveland become relevant again; unfortunately, he will miss the Finals because of a shoulder injury.
James, after making the now-famous controversial decision five years ago to leave Cleveland, made four trips to the NBA Finals in Miami winning two NBA titles. He has returned to Cleveland and is better than ever, playing like a bull in a china shop and taking Cleveland back to the NBA Finals.
In 2007, the San Antonio Spurs swept Cleveland and the King 4-0 in the Finals. This is the sixth time James has led his team to the Finals, and it’s the fifth-straight year he is chasing a championship.
He has never won an NBA Finals game or title without Dewayne Wade or Chris Bosh. Can he do it with this new cast of teammates? Cleveland dominated the Eastern Conference playoffs. They are 12-2.
Did you know that no sports team in Cleveland has won a championship in 51 years? The 1964 Browns led by Jim Brown won the NFL Championship — that was pre-Super Bowl.
The Golden State Warriors have rolled all year like a finely tuned machine. They have history — they have been knocking at the door the last few years only to lose in the playoffs in the rugged Western Conference to the Spurs and LA Clippers under Coach Mark Jackson, who will have microphone in hand calling the games on National TV-ABC.
Steve Kerr, a rookie head coach, has pushed all the right buttons. Kerr as a player won five NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs. The Warriors were the NBA’s number-one team all year, going an NBA-best 67-15. The league’s top scoring and defensive unit is 12-3 in the playoffs.
Their all-star back court of Stephen Curry, the league’s MVP, and Klay Thompson are called the splash brothers. They have not missed a beat all year and had no bumps in the road to the NBA Finals.
They are deep and explosive and as a franchise hungry. They last won an NBA Crown in 1975 — that’s 40 years ago with the great Rick Barry and Keith Wilkes.
It’s been a long time for both franchises, and they are where they are because they have had great seasons.
By surviving and advancing, the Warriors are 46-3 including the playoffs at home. They have the home court against the experienced James and the talented Cavaliers. However, I’m sticking with the Western Conference. I like the Warriors in six.
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.