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Four straight years. Think about that, Cleveland Cavaliers fans.
Four straight years. Not much in sports happens that often. Usually, a streak is broken, a key player gets hurt, an entire team is brought down by … something.
But not for the Cavaliers, nor the Golden State Warriors.
Each team has made it to the Finals four straight times. The Warriors are likely headed for a fifth.
But since the Cavs’ run is apparently over, let’s focus on them.
Name another team from Cleveland to have played for a title in four straight years. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Can’t do it?
That’s OK. Let’s play this game instead. Name other NBA teams to have made four consecutive appearances in the Finals.
OK, we know the Warriors. We know LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the four years before the Cavs. We know the Bill Russell-led Boston Celtics of the 1960s. (At least, most of you have heard of them.)
Off the top of my head, that’s all I can think of — Celtics, Warriors, Heat and Cavs. Yes, the Cavs.
That’s off the top of my head. A quick Internet search revealed the Magic Johnson-era Los Angeles Lakers (1982-85) also did it, as did Larry Bird‘s Celtics (1984-87).
Think about that. The Cavs will go down in history with Magic and Larry. That’s some pretty good company. If you love pro basketball and you love Cleveland, you have to think that’s pretty cool.
WINDS OF CHANGE
The Warriors were back in town Wednesday night. They left with a 129-105 win.
LeBron was gone. Coach Tyronn Lue was gone. J.R. Smith was gone. Kyle Korver was gone. Collin Sexton was new.
A lot has changed for the Cavs.
They have an owner in Dan Gilbert that may get too involved, may have created an atmosphere of change. But say what you want about Gilbert, the Cavs made it to four straight Finals on his watch.
He will forever be the first owner in Cavaliers history to have won a championship. How about that?
Of course, owners don’t win and lose championships. They merely try to put the right people in place to try to build the right culture.
More of the Cavs’ success and failures is the direct result of James. We all know that.
He is an unselfish and giving human being. He is an unselfish and giving teammate on the court. But twice he bolted the Cavs and left them in the dust. That wasn’t unselfish.
Granted, it was his right. But don’t try to pass it off as noble. Los Angeles will always be there. He could’ve moved to LA any time.
Anyway, forget about all that for a moment.
Just remember what James brought to the Cavs. He delivered. Four straight years. One championship. Fickle free-agency decisions aside, he will always be a basketball king in Northeast Ohio.
Warriors forward Draymond Green said the Cavs may have won another championship had Kyrie Irving not insisted on a trade.
Warriors guard Steph Curry said it feels “weird” to be back in Cleveland under these circumstances. All of the Warriors showed the Cavs’ run a great deal of respect, while acknowledging that, yeah, it’s highly likely over.
The Warriors can still be a good example for the Cavs to follow. They drafted extremely well — as neither Curry nor Klay Thompson nor Green were expected to be NBA superstars coming out of college. Interestingly, all three were upperclassmen when they entered the draft.
After that, the Warriors got lucky. Kevin Durant signed on in free agency, and later, DeMarcus Cousins did the same. Get good, build through the draft, and the free agents will come.
The Cavs should take a page from that book as they start over … again.
Starting over can stink. It can be lots of fun too, because the roster possibilities are endless. But regardless of what Cavs fans think of the present, the recent past was incredible.
Four straight years. The Cleveland Cavaliers made history.
For that, the Cavs and their fans can always feel a great sense of pride.