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The Cleveland Cavs: Dreaming the impossible dream

photo credit: en.wikepedia.org

The Cleveland Cavaliers certainly like to make things interesting as far as the NBA Finals are concerned.

The 2017 iteration is trying to outdo the 2016 championship team by trying to come back from a 3-0 deficit to win the title.

In 2016, the Cavs shockingly came back from a 3 games to 1 deficit to take down a Golden State Warriors team which had won a regular-season record 73 games.

To even get one victory in this series, it has taken a herculean effort by LeBron James and a record-setting 24 made three-pointers in game four victory to get the Cavs even this far. 

James--in 2016--had quite the Finals, finishing with averages of 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists. In 2017, he is doing his best to outperform those averages, despite essentially having the same makeup of players supporting him.

To wit, his 2017 stats (thru four games): 31.8 ppg. 11.8 rpg. 10.5 ppg.

via YouTube.com

The man--hated or loved--will go down as one of the greatest of all-time.

Looking past the "greatest-of-all-time" debate that has intensified the last few weeks about James and Michael Jordan, James is having another outstanding Finals. Early career failures and playoff disappearing acts once haunted the James legacy. These past two seasons have seen him do his best to put that behind him. (And for the record, the James/Jordan debate I won't get into. Both are great in their respective generation and it's something that's always going to arise between generations. And if number of NBA titles is your threshold, I will point no further than to Bill Russell. End of discussion.)

A game three, fourth-quarter meltdown by the Cavs prevented this series from being tied at two games heading back to Golden State. Trailing now 3-1, the deck is seemingly stacked against the Cavs in hopes of pulling off the miracle comeback two seasons in a row.

Sitting at the top of the deck: Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors.

Ushering in a new era of title chasing

Everyone knows Durant. He's the man who couldn't lead his own franchise to a title so he gave up and decided to attempt to piggy back his way to a championship.

Before digging too deep, let me say this: I don't blame the Warriors organization. They are playing by the same salary cap rules as everyone else. They had MVP players on relatively sane contracts, had the money to proceed, allowing them to be within their rights and means to pursue the best player(s) available.

The problem lies with Durant--who I will admit did the same thing James did when he left for the Miami Heat via free agency. I liken it to someone being not willing to battle to ascend to the throne. Instead, you lay down your sword and walk over to the other side to join the folks winning.

This isn't a knock on free agency. I understand players wanting to go to teams giving them the best chance at winning and a shot at the title. Like any other job, you're going to go where the best opportunities are or the best money is at. Sometimes--as in the case of Durant--there is the perceived idea the route will be easier certain ways.

Is it a problem for the NBA? No. Stars having been chasing titles for years. Why do you think Gary Payton and Karl Malone joined Shaq and Kobe Bryant on the Los Angeles Lakers?

The deeper issue might lie in the fact of applying the number of titles to a player to decide how great they are. It's certainly a factor in a player's career but can sometimes carry too much weight. Charles Barkley, Malone, and John Stockton are no less great players because they don't have titles affixed to their names. (And on the flip side, because Eli Manning made two throws to win two separate Super Bowls does not necessarily make him a Hall of Fame player.)

Durant is having a great Finals, averaging 34.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game. He was a favorite player of mine before leaving for the Warriors. Durant is one of the top-three players currently playing in the NBA, but have less regard for him since he packed up his bags and headed out west. He isn't the first to help form a super team and he definitely won't be the last.

In my old school ways, I'd rather see a team build rather than bought. It's a reason--during their first championship run--I enjoyed the Warriors. Their top three players had all been drafted, with a collection of a supporting cast built around them.

It's also why--in addition to them being my favorite team--I like watching the Boston Celtics battle with the current team they have (and am pretty firmly entrenched against them finding "another" huge star. Another discussion, another time). Teams should have that desire to knock kings off the mountain with what they have and not be content with saying "it's not fair" or "we'll never beat them". 

For that, I'm dreaming the impossible dream right there alongside the Cavs, even though chances are by this time next week the 2016-17 NBA season will already have a few days in the books.

And then we will start the free agent dance once again.

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