There is always that one team that you don’t like. Anything from how they act to how they talk can cause an anger to fester. When these teams or people meet, there is always a different level of energy and the games tend to have captivating finishes along with some blowouts that go either way. Such is the feeling that some get when the Cleveland Cavaliers face the Golden State Warriors. The last two NBA champions have faced each other two years in a row in the NBA Finals and this year, it seems like they are on track to do so again. So far this season, they have faced off with each other twice with both teams winning a game. The Warriors gave up a twelve-point lead in the first game in the fourth quarter to Cleveland. And in the most recent match-up, Golden State dominated the Cavaliers in a game that was a laughter. But no matter how much many think this is a rivalry, there are some that believe it isn’t. LeBron James is one that definitely thinks there is no rivalry and ESPN NBA analyst Jalen Rose agrees with him. But Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green totally disagrees. He feels there is a rivalry. Well I hate to tell Jalen and LeBron, but there is a rivalry here but just not in the same vein as back in the 1980’s and 1990’s..
Listening to Jalen Rose, his reasoning for not believing that there is a rivalry between Golden State and Cleveland is similar to an old man yelling for some young kids to get off their lawn. Back when Jalen was playing, rivals were nowhere near each other. When rival teams played against each other, there were hard fouls, mean stares and an intensity like no other. But with the power of AAU basketball and things like that, more players began to know each other more than years past. Things have changed so much that two key players on the Cavs and Warriors, LeBron James and Draymond Green, are business partners. But when these two step between those lines, all bets are off. And you have seen that throughout the history of the Cavs playing the Warriors, and more importantly LeBron vs Draymond. Both have a passion to win the game and envision the other as getting in the way. So in order to win the game, they do what they have to do. Now it may sometimes be something outside the box or a little over the line of annoyance or intimidation, but the name of the game is to win. And to both team’s credit, they have been largely successful for the last three seasons.
The one difference in rivalries back then and now has to be the physicality of them. Back when the Lakers, led by Magic Johnson, used to play against Larry Bird’s Celtics, the physical play was at an all-time high. Who remembers Curt Rambis getting clothes lined when going to the rim? Back then, there were no such things as flagrant fouls. Sure, people would get technical fouls, but that was about it. In this day and era, a clothesline would get someone thrown out immediately, suspended and more than likely fined. And to those that watched the game back in the day, they don’t like it. And as far as a rivalry, they cannot see a rivalry ever being one without what they saw back then. Jalen Rose saw some things when he was playing in the NBA and he grew up watching Magic versus Bird. But in these days, even though hard fouls aren’t being passed and mass chaos on the court is not happening does not mean these rivalries aren’t real. But in the grand scheme of things, free agency has changed the seriousness of them. The fluidity with which players can move from team to team can change a player from hating a team or a player to actually trading pleasantries with that same player. The perfect example of that is Marreese Speights. When he was a member of the Golden State Warriors, he probably laughed at the Los Angeles Clippers while his team could not stand them and probably would not ever think of joining them. Well, free agency hit and Speights decided to go from Golden State to the Clippers. And now he is joking and smiling with his new teammates, who their core four have been there through the rivalry with the Warriors.
Rivalries are still here contrary to what Jalen Rose and LeBron James think. And as much as they may not want to admit it, the Warriors and the Cavs have a rivalry going. Every time they play against each other, they are must-see television. And you can guarantee there will be some inspired play. some physical play and some trash talking. And when both are vying for a title and are the considered the two biggest threats to win the title, then that makes their rivalry even more intense. So go ahead and believe it isn’t a rivalry. As for the rest of us, we are all enjoying watching each and every time these two add another chapter to this thrilling rivalry book.
The General Mike Patton is an up-and-coming writer from Nashville, TN who brings a fresh and non-biased opinion about sports. From his radio experience in Nashville to his time as a sports writer for Free’s World, the website for radio personality and former co-host of BET’s 106 and Park Free (www.freesworld.com), The General is definitely one you want to get to know in the sports world. You can catch his work on SPORTSAWAKENING.COM. Mike grew up rooting for the San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bulls, and Chicago Cubs and remains a passionate sports fan who expresses intelligent opinions.