There are only two kinds of people right now in this world: Those who are rooting for LeBron James to succeed, and those who would pay to see him fail. Simply put, when the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors meet in Game 1 of the 2015 NBA Finals this Friday (June 5, Manila time), you're either with him or against him. Place your bets, sugarols!
If the regular season is any indication, there are a handful of players (James, Steph Curry, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson) out there who are more than capable of giving us a truly special Finals performance. Whatever they do, however, your tito will probably tell you that it's nowhere near as great as the ones he witnessed back in the day. And you know what? He may be right.
Below are some of those great players, and the legendary Finals performances!
THE ONE WHERE MICHAEL JORDAN BROKE PHOENIX'S HEART, 1993
What your tito remembers about it: During the 1993 NBA Finals, Jordan made the most out of his physical prime by putting up a string of 40-point performances, and the Chicago Bulls made easy work of Charkes Barkley and the Phoenix Suns. Was it the greatest Finals performance in NBA history? You bet.
By the numbers: For starters, Michael had the highest Finals scoring average ever at 41 points per game. He finished with 42 points in Game 2, 44 points in Game 3, 55 points in Game 4, and 41 points in Game 6, the series clincher.
Who's going to top those? LeBron's never going to dominate with scoring alone. So, Steph probably has a higher chance of getting near that sickening scoring average, if his three-point bombing goes nuclear.
Video via weiwen shi
THE ONE WHERE DWYANE WADE BROUGHT THE HEAT BACK TO LIFE, 2006
What your tito remembers about it: With the Miami Heat down two games and Shaquille O'Neal showing obvious signs of Father Time, it was Wade's turn to carry the scoring load against the Dallas Mavericks. He responded by tallying 43 points in Game 3, leading Miami from a 13-point deficit with less than six minutes left in the game. Superb!
By the numbers: During the 2006 NBA Finals, Wade was carving off a reputation as a great clutch player and pulled off averages of 34.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. Numbers like that win games and championships.
Who's going to top those? Clutch as Bron-Bron has become, he's still never carved out the same clutch, take-over reputation that Wade built. Could this Finals be any different? Wade will surely be watching though as he's part of the ABC broadcast team.
Video via Andrius Graiksas
THE ONE WHERE PENNY HARDAWAY PUT UP A FIGHT, 1995
What your tito remembers about it: The Houston Rockets sent the Orlando Magic home with ease during the 1995 NBA Finals, but it's not like the boys from Florida didn't put up a fight. With the Rockets hell bent on containing Shaq, Hardaway stepped up to the plate when his team needed him the most.
By the numbers: Despite being swept by Houston, Penny stood up for himself by putting up averages of 25.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 8.0 assists. That's a pretty iconic output for a sophomore!
Who's going to top those? Those are sterling numbers for a losing effort—and numbers that Curry could easily put up. But can he twist the script a bit, and actually emerge as the winner?
Video via gearmast3r
THE ONE WHERE KOBE BRYANT DID IT WITHOUT SHAQ, 2009
What your tito remembers about it: The 2009 NBA Finals marked the first time Kobe won a championship without the help of former teammate Shaq (we know, the Big Aristotle is getting quite a pounding on this list), putting an end to speculations that he's not capable of winning a ring on his own. To be fair, however, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum more than made up for The Diesel's absence.
By the numbers: Kobe posted averages of 32.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 7.4 assists in the Finals, so there was just no way the Los Angeles Lakers would ever succumb to the Dwight Howard-led Magic.
Who's going to top those? Aside from his 2007 Finals run, this is the first time that LeBron will be competing in a championship series without a proven Playoffs A-lister on his side. Irving's banged-up and relatively inexperienced. Kevin Love is out. There's JR Smith and Iman Shumpert and Matty Dellavedova—but they don't compare with Bosh, Ray Allen or even a banged-up D-Wade. LeBron will have to carry them like Kobe did.
Video via kobefan124
THE ONE WHERE THE AIR-CON BROKE DOWN, 1984
What your tito remembers about it: Larry Bird has appeared in a Finals game a whopping 31 times, but Game 5 of the 1984 NBA Finals proved to be his most memorable. With the series tied 2-2, Larry and the Boston Celtics lived up to their blue collar persona by beating the Showtime Lakers, 121-103, in an arena with zero air-conditioning.
By the numbers: While some of the players were sucking on an oxygen mask, Bird shot 15 of 20 from the field, scored 34 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, and nailed both of his long-distance shots. Pretty much the kind of stuff legends are made of.
Who's going to top those? Well, if there's anyone in these Finals that has dealt with faulty airconditioning, it's LeBron. It happened in last year's Game 1 between the Heat and the San Antonio Spurs, but unfortunately, it ended with LBJ cramping up bad.
Video via NBA
THE ONE WHERE JOE DUMARS TOOK OVER, 1989
What your tito remembers about it: Eager to avenge the ass-kicking they received from the Lakers the year before, Dumars and the Detroit Pistons retaliated by sweeping their Western adversaries in the 1989 NBA Finals. Granted, Magic Johnson and James Worthy weren't there to even things out, but a series win over the Lakers was no easy feat back then.
By the numbers: Dumars almost did a "Klay Thompson" in Game 3 by posting 17 consecutive points in the third quarter, and his averages of 27.7 points and 6.0 assists were enough to earn him the Finals MVP award. It was too easy.
Who's going to top those? Klay is obviously in that sidekick position. He's not 100 percent no thanks to concussion issues, but we've seen this boy go off, and boy was it spectacular.
Video via TheNBAIndia
THE ONE WHERE CHAUNCEY BILLUPS BARELY MISSED A SHOT, 2004
What your tito remembers about it: Billups was never a go-t0 scorer to begin with, but he took on the role when the Pistons met the Lakers in the 2004 NBA Finals. Although L.A. was the heavy favorite that year—Kobe and Shaq had some help from Karl Malone and Gary Payton—the underdogs of Motor City won the series four games to one.
By the numbers: In a nutshell, Chauncey shot the ball really, really well in the Finals. He shot over 50 percent from the field, over 40 percent from long distance, and over 90 percent from the charity stripe.
Who's going to top those? Steph put up percentages near those during the entire course of the season, shooting at 48 percent from the field, 44 percent from three, and 91 percent from the free throw line. If he can continue to put up the same numbers, he'll be putting his team in a good position to win it all.
Video via Chris Shallal