Kevin Durant wins his 1st title & Finals MVP in his 1st season w/ Warriors as Golden State defeats Cleveland to regain NBA throne:
Via SI’s Ben Golliver:
OAKLAND — Steve Kerr’s wet hair was spiked into a mohawk, Kevin Durant’s champagne goggles still hung around his neck, and Stephen Curry’s championship hat was still perched backward on his head, and yet the painful memories from last year and the jubilation of the present moment had already given way to a different conversation: Dynasty.
Golden State defeated Cleveland 129-120 in Game 5 of the Finals on Monday, claiming their second title in three seasons and avenging last year’s unprecedented 3–1 collapse. On the final night of their near-perfect 16-1 run through the postseason, the Warriors did it with nearly equal measures of their two MVPs, one returning and one recruited, who ultimately proved able to share control of one of the most dominant teams in NBA history.
With the new NBA season now underway, LeBron, Kyrie and the Cleveland Cavs look to defend their throne as NBA’s best team:
Via NBA dot com:
The Cleveland Cavaliers’ comeback from a 3-1 Finals deficit last June stands on its own: a moment of joy for a city and area that identifies so strongly with the success — and, more often, failure — of its local sports teams. Winning the city’s first major sports title since 1964 ended that narrative: what is Cleveland if not the city that fails?
But now, the Cavs are the NBA champions, and the Indians are two wins away from the World Series — they haven’t won it since 1948. There is a new tale to be told. (Though it still excludes the Browns, at least for a while.)
“I think for a long time, people just felt that Cleveland players really didn’t care about the legacy, and that the players never really embodied or embraced that burden. And we did,” forward James Jones said. “This team, that’s all we talked about. That’s all we talk about, being the group to change that narrative, being the group that redefines Cleveland professional sports history.”
Cleveland Cavs fire coach David Blatt midseason and name Tyronn Lue new head coach in effort to change team culture:
Via the Associated Press:
CLEVELAND (AP) — David Blatt’s second NBA season seemed to be going better than his first. Now, it’s over.
Blatt was fired Friday by the title-chasing Cavaliers, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. Blatt, who led the team to the NBA Finals last season, will be replaced by top assistant Tyronn Lue, according to the person, who spoke to on condition of anonymity because the team had not yet announced the move.
Lue is to make his debut Saturday night when the Cavs host the Chicago Bulls.
Cavs general manager David Griffin was expected to speak with reporters at a news conference Friday evening at the team’s training facility in Independence, Ohio.
Blatt’s firing came one day after the coach was defensive before and after the Cavs beat the Los Angeles Clippers. Blatt had been bothered by criticism that his team — led by superstar LeBron James — received after a 34-point loss to the defending champion Golden State Warriors earlier this week.
Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver on the 2015 Golden State Warriors; From Best Record All Season To NBA World Champs:
CLEVELAND—A season in which everything always seemed to fall perfectly into place ended in perfectly charmed fashion, with the proper button being pushed at the right time and every shot falling once the championship was in reach.
The Warriors defeated the Cavaliers 105–97 in Game 6 on Tuesday to claim their first title since 1975, following up a franchise-best 67-15 regular season with a spectacular 16-5 jaunt through the playoffs. Lacking in Finals experience before it entered the series, and facing the daunting task of slowing LeBron James, Golden State was nevertheless well-prepared for this series, having faced multiple superstars earlier in the playoffs, having won matchups by playing both fast and slow, and having climbed out of a 2-1 hole against the Grizzlies in the second round.
Those experiences, coupled with Golden State’s talent-laden, healthy and unselfish roster, fueled the Warriors. Golden State coach Steve Kerr expertly drew on the lessons he learned along the way. In defending James, as in dealing with Anthony Davis and especially James Harden, Kerr used multiple defenders and regularly changed his help coverage before sticking with Andre Iguodala once the veteran wing proved he could consistently make James work hard for his numbers. Read the rest of this entry
Kevin Love Officially Traded From Minnesota To Cleveland For Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett Package
NBA: ESPN’s Brian Windhorst on how the Kevin Love- Andrew Wiggins trade came together and finally happened for Cleveland:
It was late last March, as a bad Cleveland winter drifted into spring, a frigid wind whipped snow outside the Cavaliers’ suburban practice facility.
Inside, the talk was of the team’s most recent nosedive. Owner Dan Gilbert had identified the season as when the team would take the step of making the playoffs but it wasn’t happening. The team had stumbled through the first 15 games after making a trade deadline deal for Spencer Hawes, losing 11 of them. It was the last attempt at a midseason-course correction, which included a trade for Luol Deng that hadn’t panned out, and the Cavs crashed to 18 games under .500.
Nobody was feeling good. The interim general manager, David Griffin, was unsure he’d keep the job. Coach Mike Brown was starting to fear, rightly, he was going to be fired just one season in. Gilbert’s patience had long since frayed and he was growing only more restless by the day.
It was at this low point — in some ways a deeper depth than that 26-game losing streak back in 2010-11, because this team had real expectations — that the Cavs’ front office huddled to consider what was, on the face of it, a ridiculous plan.
They were going to try to trade for Kevin Love. Read the rest of this entry
NBA: LeBron James makes it official; releases a personal letter explaining why he’s returning back home to play for Cleveland:
LeBron releases announcement letter via Sports Illustrated
Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. It’s where I walked. It’s where I ran. It’s where I cried. It’s where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I’m their son. Their passion can be overwhelming. But it drives me. I want to give them hope when I can. I want to inspire them when I can. My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now.
Remember when I was sitting up there at the Boys & Girls Club in 2010? I was thinking, This is really tough. I could feel it. I was leaving something I had spent a long time creating. If I had to do it all over again, I’d obviously do things differently, but I’d still have left. Miami, for me, has been almost like college for other kids. These past four years helped raise me into who I am. I became a better player and a better man. I learned from a franchise that had been where I wanted to go. I will always think of Miami as my second home. Without the experiences I had there, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing today.
I went to Miami because of D-Wade and CB. We made sacrifices to keep UD. I loved becoming a big bro to Rio. I believed we could do something magical if we came together. And that’s exactly what we did! The hardest thing to leave is what I built with those guys. I’ve talked to some of them and will talk to others. Nothing will ever change what we accomplished. We are brothers for life. I also want to thank Micky Arison and Pat Riley for giving me an amazing four years.
Grantland’s Zach Lowe on the complexities the Miami Heat face in keeping their expensive Big 3 under new financial landscape:
In a time of hushed meetings and amorphous potential offers, the Rockets have transformed a thought exercise into a real thing by presenting Chris Bosh a concrete choice: take a pay cut to stay in Miami, or earn your full maximum salary over a four-year deal in Houston.
It’s not quite the ideal test case for a new collective bargaining agreement designed with perhaps one eye on engineering “competitive balance” by making it harder for teams to retain superstar clusters. Adam Silver trumpeted that catchphrase every chance he got during the 2011 lockout, but the league’s primary goal during that torturous offseason was to transfer cash from players to owners.
Silver is sincere in his desire for greater parity, and the easiest path to achieving it is to prevent in-their-prime superstars from teaming up. The new CBA attempted to do that by installing a super-harsh luxury tax. Spend a lot on players, and you’re going to face a crippling tax penalty that gets more severe as you add payroll. Superstars are expensive to sign and even more expensive to keep; the tax was crafted to make the “keeping” part prohibitive.