NBA Draft

When discussing the best playoff performances, greatness is often in the eye of the witness – The Athletic

Welcome to the NBA 75, The Athletic’s countdown of the 75 best players in NBA history, in honor of the league’s diamond anniversary. We also will run features such as this one to complement certain players and moments throughout our series.

The mighty Warriors of Golden State had already achieved the greatest regular season in NBA history in 2015-16 and, that June, took three of the first four NBA Finals games from the Cavaliers of Cleveland. One more win would cement them as the greatest basketball team ever, and they’d get two chances to do it at home in Oakland, Calif., where they’d lost just three games all season.

At the time, I was a scribe for the Cleveland newspaper and its website, and after Game 2 of that series, I wrote that for all intents and purposes, the series was over. History was (way) on my side.

But in Game 5, in Oracle Arena, with Warrior fans directly in front of us, knowing we were a) Reporters and b) from Cleveland, so they were heckling us as much as they were the Cavs, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving scored 41 points apiece, becoming the first teammates in league history to reach 40 or more points in an NBA Finals game. Cleveland won.

In Game 6, in Cleveland, northeast Ohioans shook the building with their roars before tip-off. James and Irving played the air drums in the layup line to Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight.

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