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.
Jimmy Butler, Anthony Davis & DeMar DeRozan named All-Star starters for 1st time as NBA officially names ASW starting lineups:
Via NBA dot com:
East Starters: DeMar DeRozan, Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jimmy Butler
West Starters: Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, James Harden
Russell Westbrook might be the most dynamic player in the NBA this season, scoring a league-best 30.6 points and averaging a triple-double through his first 44 games. But unless an injury occurs, Westbrook will not be a starter in the 2017 NBA All-Star Game.
The starting lineups were revealed Thursday for the 66th NBA All-Star Game, which will be played Sunday, Feb. 19, in New Orleans at the Smoothie King Center. And apparently Westbrook’s first-half performance wasn’t impressive enough to crack the Western Conference’s top five.
Then again, the West’s starting guards each have a pretty good case for inclusion. Golden State’s reigning two-time MVP Stephen Curry will make his fourth All-Star appearance. Alongside Curry will be Houston’s James Harden, who is second in the NBA in points (28.9) and first in assists (11.6) in his role as point guard for the Rockets.
ESPN’s The Undefeated talks to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver about hoops, race, social issues & NBA demographics in new interview:
Of all America’s professional sports leagues, none are feeling the aftershocks of the Obama-to-Trump transition like the NBA. Commissioner Adam Silver went from leading an organization whose employees dapped up and played with the current president to one in which players are questioning whether its 2017 champion will even show up for the traditional visit to the White House.
The head of North America’s most racially-conscious league listened as NBA players and coaches vented publicly about the election of Donald Trump and a possible boycott by an entire team. Now, he weighs in:
“To me, if a player were to choose not to go to the White House, whether they were choosing not to go to the current White House or a future White House, my response would be: ‘That’s a lost opportunity,’ ” Read the rest of this entry
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.”
Finals MVP LeBron James Delivers An NBA Championship To Cleveland As Cavs Win Dramatic Game 7 Over Warriors
Yahoo Sports Dan Wentzel on LeBron who fulfills his promise to Cleveland in delivering it’s first sports championship in 52 years:
OAKLAND, Calif. – When the improbable, seemingly impossible, was done, when Cleveland’s championship was, at long, long last, won, LeBron James simply went to his knees and wept. There was nothing else to do.
Wept for the accomplishment, his Cleveland Cavaliers defeating the Golden State Warriors here Sunday, 93-89 in Game 7 to become the first team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 Finals deficit. Wept for the performance, 27 more points, 11 more assists and 11 more rebounds to cap a three-game stretch (averaging 36.3 points, 11.6 rebounds, 9.7 assists while facing elimination) as great as any player, ever.
Wept, too, because of Cleveland, because of Akron, because of The Decision and because of The Return, because of the Drive, the Fumble, the Shot, because of Jose Mesa and Rocky Colavito, because the people and places back home made this bigger than him, bigger than a single team, bigger than it even should be, a basketball game understandably meaning so much to so many.
NBA Playoffs: OKC Thunder Collapse After 3-1 Series Lead As The Warriors Win Game 7 To Advance To NBA Finals
Defending Champion Warriors defeat the OKC Thunder in Game 7 setting up a NBA Finals rematch vs LeBron’s Cleveland Cavs:
Via NY Times:
OAKLAND, Calif. — The Golden State Warriors entered the N.B.A. playoffs having spent months chasing basketball magic. As they overwhelmed a conga line of opponents, the Warriors went about the uncharitable business of obliterating records, each new number more impressive than the last.
Yet the Warriors have remained aware that all their feats would be meaningless without an opportunity to vie for another championship, their victories consigned to the dustbin of near renown, their records reduced to footnotes of almost greatness. They have always wanted the whole package: the wins, the records and the trophy.
Golden State sustained the dream on Monday by defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder, 96-88, in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals at Oracle Arena. The Warriors, the defending champions, are bound for the N.B.A. finals, where they will face the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second straight year. Game 1 is here on Thursday.
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
A look at the top NBA Finals storylines & matchups including this season’s MVP Steph Curry facing former MVP LeBron James:
Via NBA dot com:
LeBron James satisfied ? Never. Not with four more wins needed to finish the story properly. Same goes for Stephen Curry.
Grinding your way to The Finals, for the fifth straight year for LeBron and for the firs time ever for Curry, is just another step on the path to bigger things … a place in history and the chance to bring a parade to streets that have either never seen one or at least haven’t seen one in decades. The goal for LeBron and the Cleveland Cavaliers has always been to crown his homecoming with a Larry O’Brien Trophy. Curry and the Warriors laid out their plans in training camp, a Larry O’Brien Trophy or bust.
So it’s fitting that the four-time MVP and the reigning KIA MVP would square off for supremacy after traveling two very different paths to get here. The Warriors looked like a lock for months, running roughshod over the league nearly all season, while the Cavaliers had to survive an early season transition period, with so many new faces in the mix, before emerging in the playoffs as the true beasts of the Eastern Conference.
The New York Times on the economic and financial impact of local hero LeBron James’ return to Cleveland and NE Ohio:
When LeBron James announced his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in July, fans celebrated by hanging banners, getting drunk and digging old jerseys out of purgatory. They ran into the streets, honked horns and hugged strangers. And some of them started trying to figure out just how much money was about to rain down on Cleveland. According to one estimate, the return of the “king,” as James is known, will add $500 million a year to the city’s economy. “When people say this is just about an athlete making money, there’s more to it than that,” said Edward FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County executive, at a news conference devoted to the anticipated windfall. “Other people will make a living.”
James is certainly a good investment for the Cavaliers, who will probably cover his $20.6 million salary just from increased ticket sales. The last season James played in Cleveland, after all, the Cavs sold every available regular-season seat at an average price of $55.95, earning about $47 million. Last season, the Cavaliers sold just 84 percent at an average price of just $43.31, for a decline of $16 million. This year, season tickets sold out the day James announced his return, and demand is so overwhelming that the team is raffling the remaining single-game tickets so that everyone in Cleveland has a fair chance. Read the rest of this entry