For the good of the country, everybody should spend these finals of the NBA’s Eastern and Western conferences rooting like crazy for the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Just say no to the Boston Celtics and the Houston Rockets, because our national security is at stake.
If the Rockets upset the Warriors in the West, and if the Celtics do the same in the other conference finals against otherworldly LeBron James and his Cavaliers, we’re talking about a television ratings nightmare. We’re talking about folks having to find a bunch of other stuff to do (some good, some bad), and who knows? The lack of a four-peat in the NBA Finals between the Warriors and Cavaliers could make the ozone worse, or we might drop off the edge of the earth.
Once you go north, south, east or west outside of Harris County in southeastern Texas, nobody cares about the Rockets.
As for the Celtics, they’ve had a bunch of supporters everywhere for decades, but that mostly applied to the Celtics of Bill Russell and Bob Cousy, or of John Havlicek and Dave Cowens, or of Larry Bird and Kevin McHale, or of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
Not so much for the Celtics of Al Horford and Terry Rozier.
Give us Warriors-Cavaliers, please.
That said, sports fans always talk big and bad about the need for parity — you know, urging people to pull for other matchups instead of Yankees-Red Sox or Patriots and Alabama against anybody — and you hear similar remarks from those running pro sports leagues.
It’s just that the evidence says otherwise.
Let’s return to last month’s March Madness, when a bunch of folks got their wish for a fresh face in the championship game of the Final Four after Michigan clawed its way toward the top. Even though the Wolverines met a Villanova program that grabbed the title in 2016 before the Wildcats would do so again this year against Michigan, nobody ever will confuse Villanova with somebody the rest of the nation cares about.
In contrast, everybody knows North Carolina, an eternal force in college basketball that has reached the championship game 11 times with six victories. The Tar Heels snatched No. 6 during last year’s finale against mid-major powerhouse Gonzaga, dubbed America’s Team, and the TV ratings for North Carolina-Gonzaga were 28 percent better than the ones this season for nobody cares versus nobody cares.
Americans love dominance.
So James had it right last year, when the Cavaliers and the Warriors met in the NBA Finals for a third consecutive season. With Cleveland down 3-0 at the time to Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and the rest of the Golden State superheroes in the best-of-seven series, LeBron declared of the griping over the omnipresence of both teams in the pro game as of late, “Is it fair? I don’t care. I think it’s great,” James said. It’s great for our league. Look at our TV ratings. Look at the money our league is pouring in. Guys are loving the game. Our fans love the game.”
The Cavaliers eventually dropped last year’s NBA Finals to the Warriors for a second time in three seasons, but they avoided a sweep with a LeBron-led romp in Game 4, and get this: Around a dozen tickets for Game 5 at Golden State went for more than $10,000 a piece in the re-sale market. One fan paid as much as $90,000 for a pair of courtside seats.
You wouldn’t see anything similar for Rockets-Celtics in this year’s NBA Finals, and it doesn’t matter that Rozier and Horford actually are pretty good for the Celtics. Neither does the fact that the Rockets’ duo of James Harden (maybe the NBA Most Valuable Player during the regular season) and Chris Paul (a legend in the league) aren’t exactly shabby.
None of them goes by “King James” or simply Steph.
That’s the problem.
At least nationally.