OAKLAND -- The hoops historian Draymond Green has a message for those with short memories and cynical outlooks.
The NBA is never better than when The Finals have legendary potential, as is the case with the Warriors and Cavaliers, who next week become the first teams to meet three consecutive seasons to determine a champion.
“It’s a great thing for the league, contrary to popular belief,” Green said Friday after Warriors practice.
Warriors-Cavs Part III is, in fact, a fantastic boon for the league. Interest will peak. Ratings will soar. Storylines will cascade down every mountain, knoll and molehill.
“Right now, you’re witnessing greatness -- two great teams, great players,” Green said. “That’s what it is. It probably won’t be appreciated until it’s over. Say we meet again next year? It still won’t be appreciated -- until we don’t meet again and you realize what you had.”
What fans have is history made, with more in the making.
The Warriors enter The Finals after an unprecedented 12-0 start to the playoffs, becoming the first team to complete three four-game sweeps in a single postseason.
Another sweep, and it’s not inconceivable, would make these Warriors the first team in NBA history with a perfect postseason -- give them the distinction of having the best postseason in American sports history.
The Cavaliers enter The Finals after a 12-1 start and, moreover, with the reheated debate over whether LeBron James has a body of work that equals or surpasses that of Michael Jordan. James is one game removed from surpassing Jordan to become No. 1 on the all-time list for playoff scoring and will make his seventh consecutive appearance in The Finals, something Jordan never did.
Though a Cleveland victory would bolster any argument in James’ favor, a Cleveland loss might be enough to close the case in Jordan’s favor insofar as his Bulls reached six NBA Finals and won them all.
Warriors-Cavaliers has the potential to go beyond what most believe to be the most epic of postseason rivals, that being the Magic Johnson and the Lakers versus Larry Bird and the Celtics. They met only three times (1984, ’85 and ’87) but the NBA went a full 10 seasons with one team or the other in The Finals.
Being a student of the game, Green quite likely knows that -- as well as having a complete understanding of the possibilities ahead.
Even if he suspects others may not.
“But you usually don’t appreciate something until you don’t have it any more,” he said. “Maybe there’s just a lack of appreciation for greatness. When you look at the situation, most people have never reached greatness. So, maybe there’s just not an understanding of what you’re watching.
“I appreciate it. I’m happy we’ve been able to steam-roll people, and I love the fact that they’ve been able to steam-roll people. I just love great things. And I think right now we’ve found two great teams.”