Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated
In a recent article, I touched on whether or not the Golden State Warriors sweeping their way through the NBA playoffs, including the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, would prompt changes to the NBA in regard to which teams players can sign with to create superteams.
But because the Cavaliers won Game 4 by a score of 137-116 in addition playing close in two other games in the five-game series to make the series 4-1 Warriors instead of a Warriors sweep, the point has been made that there is still a good level of competition among the NBA’s top teams. In fact, the Cavaliers became the first team since the Seattle SuperSonics in 1996 to be down 3-0 in the NBA Finals and avoid getting swept. They also prevented a perfect 16-0 record by the Warriors in the playoffs, and they did so in the Warriors’ 16th playoff game of the season in the game that would have sealed perfection. They did what no other team that the Warriors encountered in the playoffs could do.
Whether you like it or not, one win by the Cavaliers in this year’s NBA Finals is all it will take to prove that the NBA is fine as it is and superteams should be left alone, especially given the other two close games. In NBA history, eight NBA Finals series have ended in 4-0 sweeps, and none, not one, resulted in rule changes to prevent players from signing where they were able to sign. So even the slightest hope of a change of that kind happening following this season went out the window with the Cavaliers winning an NBA Finals game and playing in two more close games that could have been won by either team. And let’s not forget that the Cavaliers’ team salary is $128.4 million while the Warriors’ is just $107.5 million.
Sure, Kevin Durant going to an already elite (all-time record 73-win elite) Warriors team made them a superteam and added to the predictability of the NBA. But one loss and two more close calls in this year’s NBA Finals proved that even that star-studded Warriors team is not invulnerable and that there is still solid competition among the NBA’s top teams, which matters far more than does a compelling 82-game regular season or a 1-seed vs. 8-seed first round playoff matchup.
Maybe, just maybe, a sweep of LeBron James, one of the greatest NBA players of all time, by the Warriors would have caused the NBA to take a second look at the rules regarding with which teams players can and cannot sign in the future to prevent one dominant team from controlling the NBA. But there was no sweep, and this year’s NBA Finals will blend in just like one of the rest historically result-wise. But guess what? The Warriors still won this year’s championship by three whole games, and they’ll be favored to win it next year, the year after that, and likely a few more down the road after that.
But because they didn’t sweep the Cavaliers this season, their first season with all-stars Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Kevin Durant all in their starting lineup, the NBA will not bat an eye and the likelihood of a significant change regarding with which teams players can and cannot sign is as small as it’s ever been. After all, the Cavaliers did win a game and play close in two others, so any changes resulting from the aftermath of the Durant acquisition would give the NBA a bad and biased look, even if it doesn’t affect this era’s Warriors team and is intended to prevent superteams in the future.
So congratulations, Cleveland Cavaliers. You won one battle, an insignificant battle to say the very least in the short run, but you may have cost yourselves years worth of wars in the long run. At least you still have the Indians to cheer on. *insert 3-1 lead joke*