Michael Jordan made a legend off it, and if the Warriors aren't careful, LeBron James will, too.
Jordan feasted on young, awe-struck players and even some older ones who afforded him too much respect. That's what a Warriors team that lacks NBA Finals experience has to avoid against the King in the next few days, because if they kiss his ring, they've got virtually no chance in the series.
"That can be a problem, especially with younger players," assistant coach Ron Adams conceded to Balls. "If you're a good, young player, you try to show LeBron what you can do against him. It's an opportunity to showcase your talents against one of the best players in the world."
The series has to be about the Warriors — not James — and they seem to know it.
"Just worry about yourself and what you do best and try to follow the game plan," Andrew Iguodala told Balls. "We have a very good team. We're here for a reason. We know that, if we do what we do at the highest level, we have a very good chance to be successful."
"Exactly," Shaun Livingston said. "And LeBron knows that, I think. We have the MVP [Stephen Curry] on our team, you know what I mean? I've beaten [James] with guys before.
"So I mean, we don't feel that they can't be beaten. We don't feel that, because they have him, they can't be beaten. We respect his talents, but that's it. He's a great player. We're not taking anything away from him. We respect that. But at the same time, we understand what we have to do to win, to beat him."
Now we'll see if the Warriors can play the part on the biggest stage of their lives.
AND THE WINNER IS... Ten reasons why the Bay Area will witness a parade in two weeks:
10. Since when does Cleveland win anything worthwhile? Cleve-land? C'mon, man!
9. Would you count on two ex-New York Knickerbockers in a big series? (They would be Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith, of course.)
8. Warriors coach Steve Kerr keeps tracks of time-outs better than David Blatt, his rookie counterpart.
7. Adams and assistant coach Alvin Gentry, the unsung heroes of the playoffs thus far.
6. Three points beat two points.
5. Curry's sidekick Klay Thompson will be healthier and more productive than James' sidekick Kyrie Irving at series end.
4. Three-pointers are James' kryptonite, while Curry shoots them better than anyone of alllll time. (See No. 5.)
3. The Warriors lose at home about as often as Johnny Manziell stays out of trouble.
2. Curry has just begun to warm up.
1. James may be a one-man team, but he can't beat an eight- or nine-man team.
Make it Warriors in seven.
FINE PRINT: If the Cavaliers steal Game 1 on the road tonight — and they have the postseason experience to do it — all bets are off.
Teams that broke out on top went on to win 71 percent (48 of 68) all NBA Finals. And James' teams have an 18-2 record when they do so.
MORE KNUCKLEHEADEDNESS TO COME: J.R. Smith is at it already — and the series hasn't started yet.
Not long after Vanity Fair pictured Caitlyn Jenner on its cover, Smith reposted an
Instagram photo that referred to her as "a science project."
"Shout out to Akon!" Smith said in a post that was since deleted. "He is about to supply 600 million Africans with solar power. Im really upset that this isn't major news but that science project bruce jenner is #Society."
Hey, it could have been worse. Three years ago, Smith posed in a thong with a women in his bed, a bright idea that got him a $25,000 fine. But remember, it's early.
MR. IRRELEVANT: TNT sit-down comic Charles Barkley picked the Cavaliers in six games — surprise, surprise — which prompted the Warriors' Draymond Green to say, "I'm sure he said we would lose in the first round, so who cares?"
JUST SAYIN': The NBA's showcase event is a welcomed diversion from reality, no doubt. But after Balls stepped over a pile of manure, was approached by five homeless people and watched another steal a cookie at a Subway on Mission Street the other day, it wonders where it ranks on the priority list of life.
SAY IT AIN’T ZO: The Cubs have already inquired about Athletics do-it-all Ben Zobrist, word of out of Chicago has it. He’s a favorite of Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who knows him from their Tampa Bay Rays days.
General manager Billy Beane reportedly told the Cubs that Zobrist wasn’t available right now. Well, for the next 48 hours, anyway. At the start of the week, the A’s were 5 1/2 games out of the final wild card spot and had six teams to pass to get it.
The trade deadline is 57 days away. Let the countdown begin.
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