This week our WPPB TBT celebrates a professional hoops moment for the ages. And the moment is now! For regardless of which team wins the 2016 N.B.A. Finals - the National Basketball Association's best of seven championship series starting Thursday night - it's a slam dunk this year's champ shall be gloriously anointed and presently lifted into a rare realm of sports immortality; while the loser can expect nothing less than a precipitous fall from grace.
The eagerly anticipated rematch between last year's N.B.A. Finalists - the 2016 Eastern Conference Champion Cleveland Cavaliers and the Western Conference Champion Golden State Warriors - promises to be an all or nothing international sporting event touting high TV ratings and above the rim ticket prices for fans fortunate enough to see the show in person. The Warriors beat the Cavs 4 games to 2 in the 2015 Finals; Golden State's first title since 1975. The Dubs (as Bay Area fans affectionately refer to their Warriors) played even better this year as the defending champs won a record 73 regular season games during 2015-16. The Dubs proceeded to advance through their first three rounds of post- season playoff competition, including a thrilling come from behind 4 games to 3 victory over a taller, bigger, stronger, faster, quicker, younger Oklahoma City Thunder team in the Western Conference Finals. Cleveland, which finished with the East's best regular season record, breezed through their three playoff series winning 12 of 14 post-season games overall.
Should the GSW go on to win this year's N.B.A. Finals and score a second consecutive championship, after a best ever regular season record, the 2015-16 Dubs could rightfully be termed the greatest N.B.A. team in the Association's nearly 7 decades of existence.
Should the Cavaliers win this year's N.B.A. Finals, not only would that be their franchise's first ever title, but the first championship for a Cleveland professional sports club in over half a century. (In pre-Super Bowl 1964 the Browns won N.F.L. Title. The Indians haven't won the World Series since 1948. And the city doesn't have an N.H.L. team.)
Adding further drama to the 2016 N.B.A. Finals, the series features both of basketball's most celebrated superstars.
31 year old LeBron James is appearing in his 7th N.B.A. Finals; his third with Cleveland. James' two championships came as an M.V.P. member of the Miami Heat. Were L.J. who was born and raised in Ohio to lead the current Cavaliers to victory over a heavily favored Warrior squad, his legacy would be lifted to a Mt. Rushmore summit, just a mere grade below Michael Jordan's greatness. Failure however...especially if King James displays his drama queen why must I do it all myself act...could be taken as a signal that the former face of the league is past his prime and may never prove he's as good as Magic Johnson or Larry Bird or be compared to the almighty Michael!
28 year old Stephen Curry this season became the N.B.A.'s first unanimously selected Most Valuable Player. While winning his second straight M.V.P. award Curry has captivated Warrior nation and the rest of the world with sensational shooting and a Harlem Globetrotter like hoops artistry. Leading Golden State to another championship would validate Curry's entertaining game, confirming the pre-pubescent looking man is really a supremely effective, nonpareil competitor. Defeat in this year's Finals though can't help but diminish all that Curry and his team have accomplished this record setting season.
Thus, the 2016 N.B.A. Finals seem sure to create an unmatched moment in hoops history. Hoping the games people play might actually live up to the hype is why we watch.
BTW Mackey is predicting the Dubs in 5!