“I don’t think we have a rival in our game today,” James said after Cavs practice Sunday, a day before Cleveland will meet Golden State again for the second of two regular-season meetings. “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.”
“I don’t have much love for the Cleveland Cavaliers at all, nor do I think they have much love for us,” Green said. “And that’s what makes it fun to play against each other. That’s the true meaning of building a rivalry, which I think this has become a rivalry. And I think they’ll say the same thing, and if they don’t, they’re blowing smoke and they’re lying.”
Suffice it to say FOX Sports NBA insider Chris Broussard agrees with Green. On Tuesday’s episode of The Herd on FS1, Broussard told Colin Cowherd that in his 21 years covering the Association, Cavaliers-Warriors is easily the greatest rivalry — and one that matches the biggest in NBA history:
CHRIS: This is right up there with Lakers-Celtics in the ’80s. LeBron knows the history of the game, okay? This was gamesmanship. This was him saying to the Warriors, “You’re just like any other team. You’re no big deal.”
And you’re right. LeBron, when you talk to people around him, he doesn’t really see an individual player that’s his rival. Like he said before the season, he’s chasing that ghost in Chicago. So he doesn’t see a Steph Curry or anybody else as his individual rival. But this is a great rivalry.
The Lakers and Celtics in the ’80s only met three times in the Finals, and never three straight. So these two teams have a chance to meet three straight times in the Finals, never been done in NBA history.
That’s a particularly compelling piece of information from Broussard. Yes, the Celtics and Lakers built up their animosity over the course of decades, and that longevity might make you do a double-take at the thought that Cavs-Warriors is even in the same stratosphere.
At the end of the day, however, you play the games to try to reach the Finals. That’s where rivalries are truly forged, and Cleveland and Golden State are on the verge of making history.