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Appreciating the 2017 NBA Finals

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Instead of complaining about these Finals, we, as NBA fans, should step back and recognize the history we’re witnessing.

NBA: Finals-Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

As we conclude this NBA season, there’s been this narrative that the 2017 Playoffs were incredibly uneventful after these two dominant teams cruised into the NBA Finals. Now, after two games, the narrative still hasn’t shifted. The Warriors have seemed to dominate each game handily behind one of the greatest team efforts the Association has ever seen. Some NBA fans have held on to the feelings from last July, when Kevin Durant made that fateful decision to create his own super team and join the Golden State Warriors. Now, resentment continues to cloud the first two games of the 2017 NBA Finals.

The NBA community needs to instead sit back and appreciate the historic level of play happening right before our eyes.

In today’s age of social media and instant content, the NBA is more popular than ever. Fans can just check Twitter to see anything important from the big game that night almost instantaneously as it happens real time. This, however, creates an environment wherein exciting and flashy plays are at your fingertips. We now take for granted the overall game for that 30-second clip that was retweeted thousands of times.

NBA: Finals-Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

This is the problem we face in the Finals this year. The first two games started off competitive, and then, with Golden State just having too much firepower, they ended in double-digit victories. This sort of series doesn’t fulfill our craving for a battle to the death through seven hard-fought contests.

Two arguments have been thrown around about the teams not being as competitive so far this series. The first is that people would rather have any other teams in the Finals playing each other, because this is bad for the NBA. The second is that the Warriors’ “super team” is not fair. But, do the games have to be that close to be worth our while?

The answer should be no. There should be an overall appreciation of what is happening on the court for these displays of dominance to get us past the fact the series could end in four or five games.

Look at the history of the NBA. There has always been one or two dominant teams that made it to the Finals each year. In the 60’s, it was Lakers-Celtics; in the 70’s, there were a few years of SuperSonics- Bullets; in the 80’s, it was back to Lakers-Celtics; 90’s, we had MJ and the Bulls dominating; then, in the 2000’s we had Kobe and Shaq’s Lakers; finally, in the late 2000’s-early 2010’s, we had/still have Lebron.

For all the people out there who do not like these two teams making it each year, it happens every few years!! We have a cycle of dominant teams which have the two or three best players in the league beating up on the other competition each year. Individual players can dominate the game of basketball unlike any other sport. That is why the one team dominating for three to five years (on a normal average) will never end in the sport of basketball.

As for the other argument, even as “super teams” have lots of downside, it’s important to focus less on the negative and more on the positive.

NBA: Finals-Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Think of it this way. We are witnessing a minimum of four (possibly six!) Hall of Fame level players on the court at the same time. LeBron James is the best player in our generation, and is in the conversation about the greatest player to ever play the sport. As strictly a fan of the game, it’s unbelievable to see him play at another peak at age 32. He has kicked it into another gear while somehow going another season without major injury after playing 37.8 minutes a game this season. All of that is of course augmented by his statistical accolades, which continue to grow.

Next, there’s Kevin Durant. He is sure to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer as he is averaging 27.2 points and 7.2 rebounds for his career, plus a casual 8x All-Star and 2013-2014 MVP. Only 9 seasons into his career, he may make a case for top 10-15 range all-time when all is finished. As for this series, he has that look in his eyes, understanding this is why he came to Golden State. Say what you will about the decision, but no one can deny the unbelievable talent he shows on the court night in and night out. The LeBron vs. KD matchup is absolutely wonderful to watch. It may be something we never see again, so we need to appreciate it.

Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving are the two others that should be shoo-ins for the Hall of Fame. Steph is averaging 22 points and 6 assists for his career, but most importantly, he is a 2x MVP and already has a ring. Kyrie is on a similar path. He’s averaging 21 points and 5 assists for his 6-year career, while also having won a title, and is a 4x All-Star. While these two may not play a ton of defense, seeing them trade offensive highlight reels is something that needs to be cherished.

Three other stars worth mentioning to respect the talent on the floor are Kevin Love, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. These three players are remarkable to watch compete each night. The defense that Draymond and Klay play is on a superb level that really gets overshadowed in our offense-first world. Kevin Love is the perfect fit for a big man in today’s game, one who can hit a consistent three and gobble up rebounds whenever called upon (21 rebounds in game 1!). The future career numbers will make or break the chances these three have to get to the highest honor, but that doesn’t change their elite play in the NBA today.

So, with all that said, let’s all take a few steps out of the “hot take” environment to think about what we’re really watching between these two teams. We are witnessing some incredible levels of basketball between some of the best players that have ever played the sport. The Warriors may be on pace to be the first team ever to go 16-0 in the playoffs. These historical headlines are what we should really take away from this series. Let us all try and stay away from the negatives and, instead, focus on the positives angles of this year’s NBA Finals.

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