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May 29, 2017
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The NBA is two weeks removed from turning 71 years old. Since its inception in 1946, 19 franchises have won a championship, and of those teams, 10 have won more than one title. We can even extend this numbers game to the number of NBA Finals rematches the league has had in its long and illustrious history. That number, by the way, is 13. That’s how many times two teams have met in the Finals in two consecutive years. It would’ve been 14 with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, but with both teams heading back to the Finals, they’ve put themselves in a position that no two teams in NBA history have done. They’re meeting for the {third} straight season in what is officially the league’s first ever NBA Finals trilogy. That’s nuts.

A league that was supposed to be ruled by parity has two teams facing off against each other for the third straight time. And guess what, to hell with parity. Cavs-Warriors III was the Finals match-up we’ve been salivating to see ever since the buzzer sounded in Oakland last year to cap off Cleveland’s surreal comeback from being down 3-1 to the Warriors. Whether you were throwing your own fits of exultation or rage (depending on who you were cheering for), all of you—all of us—were saying the exact same thing.

“One more time.”

One year later and here we are. Spin the 2017 NBA playoffs however you want, but at the end of the day, it was pretty boringLopsided games become the norm and those series that offered specks of potential either turned into duds (Rockets-Thunder) or were derailed by injuries to key players (Jazz-Clippers, Spurs-Warriors). From a purely competitive standpoint, this year’s playoffs was the antithesis of competition, and if not for Avery Bradley somehow getting that ball to bounce around the ring before dropping into the basket in Game 3 against the Cavs, we’re looking at two teams that are sitting on 12-0 records. None of those things matter, nor did they, as they were happening because this year’s playoffs was nothing more than a long procession towards the inevitable.

The good news is that the procession is finally, mercifully over. That long and winding inevitability has led all of us to the gates of the most anticipated NBA Finals match-up in history. Whether you’re a long-suffering Cleveland fan who finally got your shot at glory or you’re a new-school Golden State fan who’s looking for as much retribution as the team you’re cheering for, the moment has arrived for all of you to get your pitchforks ready and dust off your troll games.

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There’s a week’s worth of build-up before Game 1 takes place at the Oracle Arena. That should be enough time to prepare for the basketball bloodbath that’s to come. Cleveland versus Golden State isn’t coming, folks. Cleveland versus Golden State is here. For the third time in as many seasons, for the first time in NBA history, one more time, it’s Cavs versus Warriors. LeBron James. Kevin Durant. Kyrie Irving. Steph Curry. Kevin Love. Klay Thompson. Draymond Green.

Legacies will take shape over the course of the next three weeks. Once and for all, can LeBron James cement his legacy as the third greatest player in NBA history behind Michael Jordan and Bill Russell? Can Kevin Durant validate his offseason decision of going to the Warriors with a championship ring? Can Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green exorcise the demons of their championship collapse last season? Can Kyrie Irving continue his ascent towards the “best point guard in the NBA title?” All these narratives are in play. All these questions will be answered.

One way or another, immortality awaits the team who wants it the most.

 

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