Back in my day, it was Celtics-Lakers. Magic-Bird. Kareem-Parrish. Kevin McHale-James Worthy. And the cast of characters around them. In the 1980s, both teams had super stars and complementary pieces around them. They had history and they were the two destinations that every star player would like to go to be a part of the championship fever. Both teams breezed through their conferences, with some potential obstacles, but you know that collision course was set.
Fast forward to June 2017 and you see the new incarnation of the Celtics-Lakers rivalry of an era ago. Magic is not Magic anymore - he is now a king, as in King James, as in LeBron James, the King. Bird is now known as Steph Curry. And on down the line.
While I have always been a life long Celtics fan, I do have to say that the Cavs-Warriors might actually be a better, more dominant oligarchy than Celtics-Lakers, or even the Chicago Bulls in the Michael Jordan era.
The Cavaliers obviously have LeBron, but Kyrie Irving on almost any other team would be the superstar. Kevin Love is a solid presence - al a Robert Parrish - on the inside. Deron Williams was the star with the Nets before going home to play in Dallas alongside Dirk Nowitzki. He is not even mentioned in most conversations. Then mix in shooters such as Kyle Korver, a another midseason addition, grit players such as JR Smith and Iman Schumpert, and the surrounding cast, I don't know if the Celtics' glory teams could match up!
And then there is Golden State..... yeah .... that Golden State.... the one I remember could barely win 15 games a year in the 1980s. They only had two winning seasons in the 1980s and three seasons they could not even win 25% of their games! Look at them now! They are hot, trendy, fun to watch, and as good as anyone! For the record, Cleveland only had two winning seasons that decade too!
While Steph Curry was their guy, the addition of Kevin Durant gives a bigger presence to match up against LeBron. Curry, for all he does well, is not really a good match up against him. Add in Klay Thompson and Draymong Green as wingmen and a healthy Andre Iguodala. A good series against Love or Channing Frye can also make Zaza Pachulia an unsung hero in the middle.
So, I don't know that the match ups are exactly one for one as they were with the Lakers-Celtics, but Cavs-Warriors is a contrast in styles and one of intrigue. The winner will win by doing what they do best, but also stepping out of their comfort zone and doing enough to disrupt the other. The each won one of the two previous matchups - but it is the "rubber game" of the three-peat Finals.
the funny thing is - this might only be the beginning. Golden State has a young core. So, it will be a matter of them wanting to stay together. Cleveland is a lot older and will need some rebuilding, but knowing that they can compete year over year still is attractive to other vets. So, get ready for Part IV next year!