When it comes to modern-day NBA rivalries, the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors take the cake. However, LeBron James, four-time MVP, just doesn’t feel the same, as he recently told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.
I don’t think we (the Cavs) have a rival in our game today. We’ve had two great Finals appearances the last two years, but I had the same with San Antonio when I was in Miami. We weren’t rivals. And I think I played those guys more, so I wouldn’t look at it as rivals.”
After Cleveland’s 120-108 win over the Sacramento Kings on Friday night, James stated that Golden State has “been the best team the last couple years, last three years.”
On the other hand, Cavs Head Coach Tyronn Lue seems to think that the Warriors and Cavs are indeed a rivalry. Sam Amick of USA Today Sports recants Lue’s opinion on the matter in his recent article.
Two teams that have been to the Finals in back to back years, (and) we split, so I would consider it a rivalry. But we’re both trying to figure it out, both teams trying to figure it out right now. Us having a new addition with Kyle (Korver), and trying to implement him into what we’re doing and what he likes to do, so both teams trying to figure it out and it’ll be a good game,” Lue said prior to Monday’s game against the Warriors.
Two teams meeting in the NBA Finals in consecutive years sure feels like the beginning of a rivalry. Throughout the NBA’s storied history, the same two teams have never met in the Finals for three straight years. As we approach the midway point of the 2016-17 season, the Cavs and Warriors are both sat atop their respective conferences. Will the two sides meet in June again? Only time will tell.