Golden State Warriors Rivalry With LeBron and Cavs Is Very Real

June 4, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) shoots the basketball against Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) during the fourth quarter in game two of the 2017 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Cavaliers 132-113. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
June 4, 2017; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) shoots the basketball against Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) during the fourth quarter in game two of the 2017 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Cavaliers 132-113. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

The Golden State Warriors won the rubber match with the Cleveland Cavaliers, claiming their second title in three years, and proving their rivalry is very real — whether LeBron James believes it or not.

Just ask the Golden State Warriors — Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Or sometimes lukewarm.

The dish the Warriors served LeBron and the Cavaliers a week ago was a fitting example. And something they spent a year concocting ever since Game Seven of last year’s NBA Finals ended in terrible fashion.

Watching the Cavaliers celebrate on their home floor was gut-wrenching, but it was what happened in the days and months afterwards that became the emotional fuel for Golden State’s dominance this season.

As was the ceaseless mockery on social media — LeBron James’ Ultimate Warrior T-shirt. J.R. Smith wearing no shirts. Kevin Love‘s 3-in-1 jacket parka.

So when the Warriors finished off their rivals this time around, their moment of vengeance had finally arrived.

Most of the players chose to take the high road. They embraced the Cavaliers that came out to congratulate them on the court. They thanked the fans who got to see the first Bay Area team win a championship on its home floor since the 1974 A’s. They took turns taking selfies with the golden trophy that had left them far too soon at the end of last season.

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The night was more about redemption than revenge, and any thought of payback became lost amidst all the euphoria and yellow confetti.

Then a few days passed.

While Kevin Durant may have been the undisputed MVP of the NBA Finals, Draymond Green was the MVP of the victory parade.

The outspoken forward’s magnanimous response at the conclusion of the Finals may have implied that he was willing to let bygones be bygones. Of course, anyone who actually believed that hasn’t been paying attention for the last six years.

Just two days earlier, Green taunted Cavaliers fans at the Quicken Loans Arena after his “ejection” in Game 4, then hilariously ripped those same fans during his postgame interview, describing them as not very “sharp people.”

So it was no surprise to see Draymond wearing a T-shirt at the Warriors parade with the word “Quickie” next to the Larry O’Brien trophy. The shirt was both a homage to his least favorite arena and a reminder to how fast the Warriors dispatched the Cavs in one of the most lopsided Finals in NBA history.

Subliminal messaging at its finest.

Green could have been the bigger man, but that wouldn’t be staying true to his nature and his identity. He would be lying to himself — something that he could never live with.

“I’m petty,” he said when asked about the shirt during the parade.

It was much more refreshing and candid than LeBron’s explanation: It was the only other shirt left in my bag.

A rivalry this good deserves a better excuse. That’s right — a rivalry.

Earlier in the year, LeBron said that there was no rivalry between Cleveland and Golden State, a transparent way of informing the league that no one, not even a team with four All-Stars, two MVPs, and the likely Defensive Player of the Year could be considered his equal.

As a great man once said, that’s cute.

While the Warriors proudly embraced their role as supervillians throughout the season, they were more like the Avengers: a collection of individuals with different superpowers, united by a common goal and an even bigger common enemy. Their pursuit of justice could only be fulfilled by vanquishing the Cavs.

No one understood this better than Stephen Curry, who spent all of last year’s Finals playing on one leg and consequently, being outclassed by Kyrie Irving. He also had five of his shots swatted away by James and meekly stared away when the Minotaur screamed in his direction.

Now, with his health bars back at full strength and LeBron’s tombstone cookies fresh in mind, the reigning two-time MVP was ready to go from being a baby-faced assassin to one more like John Wick.

One play defined his performance, and it came in the third quarter of Game Two.

With  James guarding him, Curry eagerly called for the ball. The normally unselfish point guard then motioned for his teammates to get out of the way. A request to which they quickly obliged.

The King stayed with him, refusing to be checkmated, but one slick fake froze him just long enough for Curry to switch hands, carve a clear path to the rim, lay in the shot, and then bask in the glow of 20,000 frenzied fans.

In 10 glorious seconds, Curry turned the King into his own jester, and all it took was 15 dribbles, 10 dance steps and one flick of his wrist.

And just for extra measure, with the series already in hand during the final minute of Game Five, Curry nuked Kyrie Irving from nearly the same spot as Kyrie’s series-clinching three the year before.

It screamed ‘I’m awesome’ more than any of his various on-court celebrations.

While Green didn’t do anything nearly as cool (his numbers in the Finals were a  pedestrian 11.2 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 4.6 apg), he was able stay on the court. That was every bit as important as the 428 points Kevin Durant scored in the playoffs.

Before the series started, Richard Jefferson said that the more composed team won last year.

In actuality, the more aggravating team won.

Draymond stayed himself before and after the series, and still never got thrown out or suspended. Extraordinary considering who he was facing.

Even in defeat though, the Cavaliers couldn’t stop trolling. They couldn’t bring themselves to ignore the fusillade they knew was coming after three blowout losses to the team they poked and prodded for the better part of the year.

After losing the Finals last year, the Warriors barely reacted to anything LeBron said, did or wore during the Cavaliers’ victory celebration.

Lebron’s response to Draymond’s shirt and parade speech on Instagram (which ended badly for him) showed that despite his attempts to pretend otherwise, the rivalry exists.

Next: How The Warriors Checkmated The Cavs

A real rivalry takes two, and currently, the score has him losing 2-1.

With teams around the league frantically assembling their own superteams to counter Golden State, James may not get a chance to even it.

That would be disappointing, because we have yet to witness the perfect ending: all four Warriors superstars riding one bus down Broadway street wearing those Ultimate Warrior T-shirts.