We’re currently tied at 1-1 in NBA Championships for the current versions of the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. But despite this, the Cavaliers’ championship seems to be more significant for a few reasons – it was Cleveland’s first title in decades, the Warriors lost despite being the best regular-season team ever, it was more recent, the whole “Golden State lost a 3-1 lead” thing, and a number of other factors make the 2016 Finals seem bigger than 2015.
Apparently, losing last year still rubs Draymond Green the wrong way. He’s a super competitive guy, and that came through in this interview with David Aldridge of NBA.com when Green said he wants to “annihilate” and “completely destroy” Cleveland in the 2017 Finals if both teams get there.
Me: Bird and Magic used to always wake up every morning and see how the other guy’s team did the night before, because they knew they were going to see each other in The Finals. If you get back, is Cleveland the only team you want to play?
DG: No. I want to win the Western Conference, try to beat everybody in the Western Conference — which is a tough task. There are so many good teams. So that’s got to be our only focus, to win the Western Conference. And then, if Cleveland comes out of the east, I want to destroy Cleveland. No ifs, ands and buts about it. But I also know that there’s steps to get to that point. And if and when we get to that point, I want to annihilate them.
Me: And if you get there?
DG: If we get there…
Me: And they get there?
DG: And they get there, I want to completely destroy them. No ifs, ands or buts about it. That won’t change. I’m not saying we’re going to look forward to that. Like I said, there’s a long road ahead. And it’ll be a tough, tough road to get there. Nonetheless, if we get there, and they get there, I want to destroy them. Really ain’t no other way to put it.
Of course, it’s not too terribly off-base to say that Green really hurt Golden State’s chances of making it two titles in a row last season. Green was famously suspended for Game 5 of the 2016 Finals, which was viewed as the game where the Cavaliers started making their charge to a championship – Cleveland beat the Green-less Warriors in Oakland before winning Game 6 in Cleveland. By the time Game 7 rolled around, Cleveland had all the momentum in the series and was able to beat Golden State in one of the best Finals games of all-time.
There is so much hype around a potential Finals rubber match between Golden State and Cleveland. The Cavaliers would enter as the defending champs, while the Warriors messed around and added Kevin Durant this offseason. Add in the fact that Green’s sentiment is probably held by a number of dudes in his team’s locker room and this could very well be the most anticipated Finals matchup in decades…well, assuming that we even get Cavs-Dubs, Pt. III.