The Cavaliers rolled through the Eastern Conference with a 12-1 record, yet are on the verge of being swept in the NBA Finals. On the other hand, the Warriors faced no real opposition throughout the playoffs. With two teams clearly so far ahead of the rest of the league (one seemingly far more so than the other), it’s made people question if this current NBA structure is fair.
When asked to comment on these issues, LeBron James, who’s been on his share of superteams, was asked if they are fair to the rest of the league:
As transcribed by ESPN:
Is it fair? I don't care," James said Thursday, the day after the Cleveland Cavaliers fell behind 3-0 in the Finals to Durant and the Warriors. "I mean, I think it's great. It's great for our league. Right now, look at our TV ratings, look at the money our league is pouring in. I mean, guys are loving the game, our fans love the game.
“I mean, who am I to say if it's fair or not? No matter who I'm going against, if I'm going against four Hall of Famers, like I said before the series started with Draymond (Green), Klay (Thompson), Steph (Curry), and K.D., or if I'm going against two or whatever the case may be, I'm always excited to play the game.
"And I'm not one to judge and say if it's fair or not if guys are adding players to their team. So that's what you want to do. Is it fair that the New York Yankees in the '90s was adding piece after piece after piece after piece? I mean, if you have the opportunity to do that -- is it fair that the (Dallas) Cowboys added Deion Sanders? I mean, listen. It happens. It's sports. You have an opportunity to sign one of the best players, and you can do it, go ahead and do it. Why not? If I become an owner, I'm going to try to sign everybody.”
The whole press conference was incredibly illuminating and interesting. Coming off such a crushing loss, it’s impressive that he was able to compose himself and give thoughtful answers.
"When I left here to go to Miami, we had to build something," James said. "We brought in eight or nine guys, and we had to build something. And when I came back here (to Cleveland), we built something again. But I can definitely appreciate the simple fact of him either reshaping his game or just sacrificing maybe some shots here, sacrificing having the ball in his hands all the time. But it works for their team. I mean, who wouldn't want to sacrifice playing on a Golden State team or a San Antonio team or a Cleveland team when you know the ultimate result is you can actually compete for a championship."
It’s not surprising to see little sympathy from James, as he understands the historical context of teams like this. Having powerhouse teams is more of the norm than a competitive field when you look over the course of NBA history.
One of the other features of rivalries that span over several years is that the faces frequently change. The Cavs and Warriors have exchanged blows over the last few years, and with the addition of Kevin Durant, it’s likely that the Cavs will adjust once again this summer to once again try and bring home a championship. While the Warriors are arguably the greatest team ever assembled, it’s usually not wise to assume longevity given how much things can change year to year. Barring something drastic, they will likely continue to be the favorite for many years to come. However, to assume there will be no drama along the way is likely unwise.
The Cavs and Warriors are likely going to meet again at least a couple more times before it’s all said and done. How they get there remains to be seen.