There Is No Asterisk For the Toronto Raptors Just Like There Isn’t One For the 2015 Warriors

Congratulations to the Toronto Raptors for winning the 2019 NBA Championship.  While I’m the first to admit that it would have been nice to see the Golden State Warriors at full strength, I certainly can’t belittle the Raptors for their accomplishment.  You play the team put on the floor, and you try to beat that team.  Period.

For those who are arguing that the Raptors have an asterisk by their name for this championship, I disagree.  After all, nobody says that the 2015 Warriors championship should have an asterisk, yet the Cavaliers suffered similar significant injuries to their roster leading up to and during those 2015 Finals.

If you recall, the 2014/2015 Cleveland Cavaliers were a newly reconfigured team with the return of LeBron James, the arrival of Kevin Love, and the late season additions of Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, and Timofey Mozgov.  They joined superstar Kyrie Irving and made it to the NBA Finals under rookie coach, David Blatt.  (Keep in mind that Blatt was a rookie head coach in the NBA, but he had a very robust resume  from coaching internationally.)

Unfortunately, Kevin Love did not play at all in that series due to a shoulder injury, and Kyrie Irving broke his kneecap during that first game of the Finals.  This left LeBron James to pretty much try to do it all by himself, which, against that Warriors team, proved insurmountable.

Yet, no one seems to remember that two of the Cleveland’s three all-stars were out of commission for that championship series.  No one questioned whether it was a legitimate win or not for the 2015 Warriors.  I never heard anyone say they should have an asterisk next to their name.

The Warriors played the injured Cavaliers, took advantage of their depleted roster, and won a title.  The Raptors did the exact same thing.

This is the nature of sports.  Injuries, exhaustion, and bad luck always play a role.

I wish all of the injured players a speedy, complete recovery; I congratulate the Toronto Raptors on their first title; I also remind you that the healthy 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers beat the intact Golden State Warriors for their championship, which prompted the Warriors to acquire Kevin Durant.

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Love Moderately

You probably know that I’m first and foremost a Bulls fan.  It’s been a tough couple of years, but I think we are finally on the upswing and ready to seriously compete.  But as good as my Bulls are, I can’t deny the Cavaliers are going to be extremely good, especially with the impending acquisition of Kevin Love.

How good?

That’s a matter of debate.

I heard on ESPN today that Vegas is placing the Cavaliers as three-to-one favorites to win the whole enchilada next season.  Wha-huh?  Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, guys.

Yeah, LeBron James is the best basketball player in the entire world – no doubt.  Yes, the Cavaliers look great and if they get Ray Allen to join they are only getting better.  But you cannot discount the Bulls, and you certainly can’t ignore the eternal phenomena known as the San Antonio Spurs.  The Trailblazers, the Warriors, and the Clippers could also go all the way if they get hot.  Heck, I’ll be honest, I think the Heat have even recovered from James’ exit pretty well.

Yes, Kevin Love is fantastic and I’m glad he’s going to get a chance to play for a team trying to win immediately.  But, as Miami’s big three can tell you from their first year, there’s something called chemistry that must come into play.  Irving, James, and Love have never played together on the same floor at the same time as far as I know.  They each excel at their position, they each spread the court, and they each do their own unique thing that shouldn’t trample on the others’ egos, but I think they’ll still need a year to build that elusive chemistry.

So, let’s take a breath and slow that championship talk down.  What’s going on with the Cavaliers is wonderful for the league, for the players involved, and especially for the community, but I think we need to avoid getting caught up in the moment.  Will they escape the East?  Yeah, I can see that.  But can they beat the West?  Right now I’m inclined to say no, but we’ll have to wait and see the guys actually play together before we can know for sure.

Wait and see … that’s not a popular concept among people who talk sports, is it?

You know I love my Billy Shakespeare, and as he told us in The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, “Love moderately.”