Shout out to Linn Huang for his original thoughts on Game 7. Pretty much gave me the spine of this short essay.
So ends the 2015-2016 NBA Season, with the Cleveland Cavaliers finally bringing a championship to a city starved of celebration.
The Golden State Warriors become the first team to lose a 7-game series after being up 3 games to 1. LeBron James truly belongs in the conversation of determining the best basketball player of all time. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love found redemption in this do-or-die scenario in ways that Festus Ezeli and Harrison Barnes could not. Stephen Curry could not replicate his regular season heroics, Klay Thompson could not replicate his Western Conference Final heroics, and the pure determination of Draymond Green was not enough to clinch victory in the final minutes.
In life, we will all take L’s. The enduring lesson here is to gain something from it. Never lose for free, so to speak. And the assumption here is that the Golden State Warriors will go into the offseason wondering what could have been. They’ll deconstruct their extremely subpar performances in Games 5 and 6. They’ll question their execution and ponder how they couldn’t get a basket with 5 minutes to go in Game 7.
Of course, we always aim to win. That’s what life is about, right? We don’t celebrate losers, nor should we. To the victor goes the spoils. And to the loser? A platitude on growth mindstates.
What makes this so devastating is everyone with an inkling of basketball intelligence knew that Game 7 could’ve swung either way. During that stretch of cold shooting by both Cleveland and Golden State, it was really up to one player to make a critical basket. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, and Draymond Green have all demonstrate their chops for the big basket. But what’s so heartbreaking is that despite all the talent and mental strength in the world, the ball just won’t go in sometimes. This is a make-or-miss league, and the Cavs made it when it counted. We didn’t.
And as I take my sabbatical from sports news and r/nba for a few weeks, I know full well that there are a lot of people who’ve been looking forward to this moment. The unstoppable Warriors regular season juggernaut being derailed by a Cavs team that was once pilloried for being put together by a player instead of a GM. They deserve their moment in the sun, to laugh and point in one big wave as Steph and Ayesha Curry sit under all the shade being thrown at them.
Let the haters drink deeply from the schadenfreude. Let the Cavaliers enjoy their fully deserved ring. Let all the commentators and media personalities bask in what was essentially a choke job by one of the greatest regular season teams of all time.
Let them all celebrate in our loss. They deserve this moment. We were their villain, and we took the L.
But here’s the thing about taking L’s: losses are never permanent, even if they come in decade-long stretches. I know both fanbases should understand that. Losses happen, and the only way to shorten the possibility of them happening in the future is to take something, anything, from the loss.
Never lose for free.
And I have full confidence that we didn’t. Come see us next season. We’ll be coming to collect.
TL;DR – We lost, but keep talking that shit, we’ll be coming next year.