If you're angry about the Golden State Warriors, you should be angry that a thousand years ago, in another world in the NBA and another world in sports, the Knicks -- who had beaten the Bullets when the Bullets had Earl "The Pearl" Monroe -- went out and made a trade for Earl and won with him. The Warriors won without Kevin Durant. The Warriors beat Durant. Then they went out and signed Durant, who played and scored for them in these NBA Finals as if he were Michael Jordan.
So now the Warriors are the new dynasty in the NBA, even though they've won only two titles in the past three years. Did Durant take the path of least resistance to his first title? Yeah, he did. Of course he did, even if he broke no laws, and exercised his rights as a free agent, and decided to play basketball where he wanted to play basketball for the rest of the prime of his career. Durant didn't just make a business decision. He decided to make history, and now he has, and now the Warriors came as close as they did to going 16-0 in this postseason. They don't care, because 16-1 will do.
When it was all on the line in the biggest moments of the NBA Finals, it wasn't just Steph Curry who had to score for the Warriors, or Klay Thompson, or even Draymond Green. They threw it to Durant, and not Harrison Barnes, and Durant scored like he was Michael. It doesn't mean he is Michael. But he just spent the NBA Finals playing that way.
And as great as the Warriors are, you look back on this series and think that they all should be on their way back to Cleveland for Game 6. But everything changed in the final three minutes of Game 3. The Cavs were ahead by six. Ended up losing by five. The Warriors ran 11 on them at the end. Durant made the biggest basket of the bunch, a three-pointer. Instead of the series being 2-1 for the Warriors, it was 3-0. The only thing left was to find out how much fight LeBron and the Cavaliers had left. We found out in the first quarter of Game 4, when they came out and scored 49 points and should have scored more than that.
By the way? If you are still one of the slow thinkers who have ever doubted LeBron James' brilliance and the force of his athletic will and character, it was all on display in Game 4. There it was, too, at the end on Monday in Game 5, when he played like a kid who didn't want the game to end, who played like a kid running out of daylight, and kept going to the basket again and again and trying to keep his season alive.
"I left everything on the floor every game, all five games," LeBron said when it was over. "So for me personally I have nothing to be -- I have no reason to put my head down. I have no reason to look back at what I could have done or what I shouldn't have done or what I could have done better for the team. I left everything I had out on the floor every single game for five games in this Finals, and you come up short."
And then he talked about how young the Warriors are. Is it impossible to see the Cavaliers continuing to make it back to the Finals while LeBron is still around? Of course not. He is still playing basketball at the highest possible level, continuing to play it with consummate team values. If Paul Pierce honestly believes that Durant is a better basketball player than LeBron, then Pierce is watching the wrong movie. Or has already mastered the game in the modern media of saying whatever is necessary to draw attention to yourself.
What do the Cavaliers need to keep pace in the current arms race between them and the Warriors? Is there a way for them to bring Paul George to Cleveland as a way of making the sides even? There is already a lot of chatter about that. The Warriors were able to add Durant. But it's not as if the Cavs can go out and get Russell Westbrook, Durant's old running mate in Oklahoma City.
As close as the Cavaliers were to winning Game 3, though, as close as they were to sending the thing back to Oakland even at two-games-all, it does not change an immutable fact about what we just witnessed:
The sides never looked even in this series, not really. It was because of Durant. It was because the Warriors added a Michael to a team that was already young and deep and loaded and playing All-Stars all over the court. The Warriors just became another superhero movie. It was what LeBron and Chris Bosh did when they went to play with Dwyane Wade in Miami. But that Heat team wasn't as good, or as talented, as this Warriors team. It is why LeBron also said this after Game 5:
"I need to sit down and figure this thing out. And so I don't know as far as me personally right now. But as far as that team, they're going to be here for a while. They're going to be around for a while. Pretty much all their guys are in their 20s. Pretty much all their big-name guys are in their 20s, and they don't show any signs of slowing down. So there's going to be a lot of teams that's trying to figure out ways to put personnel together to try and match that if they're able to actually face them in a playoff series, both Eastern Conference and Western Conference. Because they're built for -- from my eyes, they're built to last a few years. So we'll see."
We'll all see. Maybe it means that the Cavs do go out and find a way to sign George. Maybe LeBron is already looking down the road and thinking he might make one more move before he's through, as a way of giving himself the best chance to win more titles. You saw how much he wants to win, in his seventh straight trip to the Finals. You saw talent and force and even anger the way he played that fourth quarter on Monday night.
Still: It's funny how these things work out. We spend so much time comparing LeBron to Michael, and wondering which one of them is the best, knowing there is no way to answer the question. We always say, yeah, but they didn't play against each other. Except over the past couple of weeks, they kind of did.