The Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers are really the toast of the NBA. Nobody can debate that.
Are the Warriors and Cavs even a rivalry? First of all, the rivalries of fans do not always translate to rivalries on the court. As an example, LeBron James downplayed any sort of rivalry. However, the exuberant Draymond Green said it was absolutely a rivalry.
Draymond Green said: “Yeah, I think it’s a rivalry…. A team that you beat, that beat you, it’s definitely fun. If you look at the last two years and this year, we’ve been the top two teams in the league. I look at it as a rivalry and it’s definitely fun getting to play them, but I don’t really care if anyone else sees the game the way I see it.”
What we have here is two teams that have faced each other in the last two finals, where the Warriors took the first series and the Cavs won the second. While this is not like the rivalries of the past, for example — the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics, it has created a life of its own.
It has pitted two coasts against each other in a classic battle of East vs. West.
Fans who reside in Ohio have their own views on the fans who make up the Bay Area, just as fans living here in California hold of Cleveland fans. But this is just one layer of the rivalry.
This rivalry seems extremely passive-aggressive, which seems to add fuel to the fire.
Draymond Green notably said the Cavs suck. And, Steph Curry said that he hoped the Cavs’ visiting locker room still smelled like champagne after winning their first title.
During the 2016 NBA Finals, LeBron James baited Draymond Green by stepping over him in Game Four, which led Green to swipe at James. Although no foul was called, the league retroactively issued Green a flagrant foul for his role in the play, which led him to be suspended for Game Five of the NBA Finals. Multiple reports have claimed both James and the Cavaliers made efforts to get Green suspended.
Then came LeBron’s Halloween party, in which he mocked the Warriors with dummies and tombstones inscribed “3-1.” Of course, James now says it’s “water under the bridge.”
It’s hard to blame James for his tactics. He got what he was looking for last year. It worked for the refs in Game Four of the 2016 Finals. And, the two teams only get to play one another twice in 82-games creates a ton of buildup. To make things even more intense, the only way these teams could possibly meet again is — the NBA Finals.
It is obvious that both teams respect each other, but it’s even more obvious that they really, really don’t like losing.