When Paul Pierce said that the Kevin Durant era is starting and the LeBron James era is coming to an end, I didn’t want to believe it. LeBron James is still the best player in the world and still has plenty left in the tank to win more championships. Then this series happened. Kevin Durant had an incredible, historic NBA Finals, as well as his teammates. If LeBron and company couldn’t get it done this year, then I don’t see them doing it anytime soon, if not ever. I think the torch is starting to be passed from LeBron to Durant, but not as the best player in the NBA. LeBron will always be the better player, but as far as winning goes, Durant is starting to take that torch.
Kevin Durant has been the difference maker in this series, as stupid as that sounds. The Warriors needed to add Kevin Durant to beat LeBron James, who, this series became the first player to ever average a triple-double in NBA Finals history, remember that. LeBron made the Golden State Warriors sign Kevin Durant. Supposedly, Draymond Green called KD after the game 7 loss last year and talked to him about joining the Warriors. They couldn’t beat LeBron and needed one more guy that could help them win it all once again. As they say, the rest is history. We are now at the beginning stages of the Durant/Warriors era. LeBron will continue to be dominant and lead the Cavaliers to be the best team in the East, but if he continues to make it to the Finals, I can’t see him making it past the Warriors. I’m talking as if the Warriors will make the NBA Finals every year. That’s because I am more than confident that they will. LeBron will continue to be great in other aspects but who knows if he’ll win another title. He’ll keep fighting to make his case in the GOAT argument, but this Finals loss could be the beginning of the end for LeBron’s championship winning days.
LeBron gave it his all in this series, but it simply wasn’t enough. In the very few minutes he wasn’t in the game, the Warriors would do just enough to either come back or stretch the lead enough to control the game. LeBron has even gone on to say he’s never played a team with this much firepower in his career. The Warriors are simply too good.
Game 3 was the game the Cavs had to win to keep the series competitive. Once they lost, I knew there was no chance of them coming back. Coming back from a 0-3 deficit has never been done, but they did come back from 3-1, so you couldn’t really count them out. But it’s tough bouncing back after a loss like that where LeBron and Kyrie gave it their all but still came up short in the final minute of the game.
In game four they bounced back in a big way. The Cavs had to take at least one game to make it seem like there was some hope. They set scoring records and left many fans who thought the game would go the Warriors’ way in shock. LeBron was dominant, but again, whenever he stepped out the game the Warriors would go on a little run, either leading to a Cavs’ timeout or LeBron subbing back in. You have to feel for a player when he can barely even rest because whenever he is subbed out the other team starts to come back or take over.
The Warriors were down early in game five but took control at the end of the second quarter and were on cruise control the rest of the way. The Cavs had their spurts where they’d bring it to within single digits, but KD and company would not allow the Cavs to regain the lead. LeBron tried as hard as he could in game five. For the final six minutes, it looked like he was the only one trying. He continuously took the ball to the basket and made contested shots. JR Smith came up big, but it’s hard to win when LeBron and JR are the only ones doing anything. JR was feeling the Henny, and LeBron was doing what LeBron has always done, but this was the Warriors’ year. There was no stopping them.
This Finals loss should not go against LeBron in any way, by the way. To be quite honest with you, this series had gone the way it should have all along. The casual NBA fans hoped the series would go seven games for the sake of competition, but realistically this shouldn’t have been a close series. This was a 73-9 team that was up 3-1 in the NBA Finals last year then added the second-best player in the NBA just to beat LeBron in the Finals. Of course this was going to be easy for them. Kevin Durant was the missing piece this team needed to overcome LeBron and reclaim their spot at NBA champions. It couldn’t have been any easier for KD and company to win the championship. Get used to it too, because as long as these guys stay together, which I expect them to, they will become a dynasty, potentially winning 3-5 championships together, if not more. I honestly believe this can happen and it’s unfortunate for basketball fans because it takes the fun out of the game. But if it was your team that was in their position, would you be complaining?
This series made me think a lot about Kevin Durant’s decision and the route he took to win a ring. I also thought about how the Warriors got lucky winning their first title and maybe shouldn’t have in the first place. In 2015 LeBron was alone when facing the Warriors for the first time. Kyrie and Kevin Love were injured, so it was up to LeBron and Matthew Dellavedova to win it for the Cavs. They came up short in six games that year, but came back the next year and won it with a healthy team. If Kyrie and Love weren’t injured, would the Cavs have won that year? That’s a big “what if” question that fans would love answered, but this is how I look at it. If history re-wrote itself, the Cavs would have been champions in 2015 and 2016. Kyrie and Love stayed healthy and helped win Cleveland it’s first championship one year only. If the Warriors didn’t get lucky with the Cavaliers’ injuries, they wouldn’t have won a championship and would have come up short in the Finals two years in a row. Kevin Durant comes in and finally dethrones the King in the Finals. KD was the missing piece for a team that maybe shouldn’t have won a title in the first place. They needed Kevin Durant to win, no doubt about it, but this is a theory I came up with that I thought was interesting.
If you were an NBA owner and had the chance to add the second-best player in the NBA to your already historic team, would you do it? Of course you would. I’d do it. You would do it. LeBron even said he would do it. The Warriors did what they had to do when they added Kevin Durant to their team. Of course, it sucks for basketball fans outside of California, but if your team had the opportunity to do the same thing you wouldn’t be complaining. I’m upset that the Warriors will dominate the league for the next few years, but I’d be hypocritical to say that I wouldn’t be happy if this happened to my favorite team. This is something that took a while for me to understand and come to terms with, but this is just the new superteam that’s taking over the league. It happened in Boston. It happened in Miami. It happened in Cleveland. And now it’s happening in Golden State. Any chance a team has to build a team like the Warriors have they’ll do it.
I’d also like to take this time to say that LeBron’s move to Miami is far different than KD’s move to Golden State. LeBron and company came together and built a team from the ground up and became successful. KD joined a team that was already a historical juggernaut and had to build nothing. That Golden State team before Durant had to be built from the ground up, but Durant joined the team after they’ve already been built. LeBron formed an army and Durant joined an army. That’s all I’m saying about that.
The torch of winning championships is being passed to the Warriors and Kevin Durant. I believe if Durant catches up to LeBron and wins three or more championships, the torch will officially be passed on. Unless LeBron continues to add pieces in Cleveland to make that team better or goes elsewhere to form another superteam (unlikely), then I can’t see him winning another title. Maybe the Cavs will somehow bring in Carmelo or sign CP3 or DWade if they take pay cuts. Maybe they’ll trade Kevin Love for DeMarcus Cousins. Who knows what LeBron can pull off. All I know is that if the Cavs can’t beat them, then I don’t know who in the world can. Maybe the Spurs can get some redemption next year when Kawhi comes back. But for now, the Warriors will be deemed as unstoppable for years to come. Unless another superteam comes along to take down the Warriors, we’ll be living in their world for a long, long time.
From now on the focus will be on Kevin Durant. The man that “sacrificed” so much to come to Golden State and win championships. He’s one title down. I have to say though that he is the best player on the best team in the league, hands down. He isn’t the best player in the world, but he’s right up there. He had an NBA Finals performance for the ages and put up jaw-dropping numbers. As did LeBron, except he didn’t have all that Kevin Durant did around him. LeBron James proved this series that he is the best player in the world, but sometimes the best player in the world and arguably the greatest player of all time can’t beat the team like the Golden State Warriors.
The era of Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors has begun, and they aren’t looking back. Kevin Durant isn’t going to settle with one championship. He came to Golden State form a dynasty. Now, they’re one step closer.