John: Today we are talking about the NBA finals. This could potentially be the third year in a row that we see a Cleveland Cavaliers-Golden State Warriors NBA Final. The question is: Is that good for the league? How does it affect the balance?
Vince: It’s good for the league because you have the best two teams going to the Final. It’s clear that these are the two best teams. People don’t remember, but years ago, the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers were the best two teams in baseball; they were going at it every year for quite a few years. Then you slide in the Giants like in ’51 when Bobby Thompson hit the “shot heard round the world.” Do you know who was on deck when he hit that home run?
Russell: Willie Mays?
Vince: Willie Mays. But anyway, you had something like that in the ‘40s and ‘50s. The Yankees and the Dodgers were playing every year. Now in the NBA, we have the Cavaliers and the Warriors, maybe for a couple more years. This tells the teams in the East, “LeBron is a recurring event.” It doesn’t matter what team he’s on; if he’s in the West, if he’s in the East, whether he’s in Miami or Cleveland, he’s in the Finals. So the big question for all the other teams is, “what are you going to do to stop him?”
Russell: I think teams prepare for the season. They know what they need to do, who they need to get, and they go out and get 'em. Cleveland has Deron Williams. He plays good defense, so they got who they wanted. Golden State had the best record in the NBA last year, but they lost. So what did they do? They signed Kevin Durant. The managers of good teams do what they need to do to win. Teams like Chicago? They don’t go out there and get the players they need. They sit back and relax, saying, “Oh, we can make it with this team,” but that’s not the case. Back in 2010, the Bulls had the best record and Derrick Rose won MVP, who’d they get?
Russell: Nobody. And then that team was sorry. It was like they didn’t even show up. That’s why the same two teams play every year. The GMs go out there and get who they want. Now, in the next couple of years, Boston could change that. They’ve got all these draft picks, and they’re going to be a force sooner or later. Things will have to change.
John: I think one of the reasons these teams are destroying the balance has to do with the ownership. They pay the players all of this money and then allow them to jump from team to team. Another thing, the players would rather join a great team that’s already built than join a growing team and build it up around them. You want to have a couple really great teams in the league, but you don’t want it to happen because all the players are jumping ship to go to those teams that are already built. That’s where the problem is. It’s so much that you have Golden State and Cleveland going to the Finals every year, but it’s how they’re doing it. What do you think, Vince?
Vince: Well, Russell brought up an excellent point. When the Bulls were 62-20 and they were the top team in the East, they took on the Heat and lost in the Eastern Conference Finals. They won the first game in a blowout but then got smoked in the rest of the games. Something was missing. They thought they were ready to go through with the rest of the Finals, but the Heat burned them. They still needed to improve the team.