LeBron James’ seemingly superhuman feats weren’t enough to prevent the Golden State Warriors from engineering an authoritative 4-1 best-of-seven series win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the teams’ third consecutive meeting in the NBA Finals. It was James’ eighth Finals appearance and seventh straight.
Yet the 32-year-old is 3-5 in those series and may find it increasingly difficult to win more given the Cavaliers’ current composition and the budding dynasty taking shape in Northern California. The Warriors are stacked with superlative young talent in their prime in Stephen Curry (29 years old), Kevin Durant (28), Klay Thompson (27) and Draymond Green (27).
Conversely, it is only James and 25-year-old Kyrie Irving in the Cavaliers’ mix who are built to offer substantial resistance to the Warriors. Furthermore, the Boston Celtics, who finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference during the regular season at 53-29 but were clearly overmatched by the Cavaliers in the conference finals, losing 4-1, are flush with assets, including the top overall pick in next Thursday’s NBA Draft obtained from the Brooklyn Nets.
Additionally, the Celtics own the rights to the Los Angeles Clippers’ and Memphis Grizzlies’ first round picks in 2019. In contrast, the Cavaliers are in a prohibitive salary cap situation and as of today do not have a first round pick until 2021.
James was at once reflective and revealing after the Cavaliers’ series-ending Game 5 loss Monday. “Well, it’s a two-sided question because for me personally—I don’t know,” James said in responding to a question regarding his and the Cavaliers’ direction over the next several seasons, as well as combating the Warriors.
“I need to sit down and figure this thing out. And so I don’t know as far as me personally right now. But as far as [the Warriors], they’re going to be here for a while. They’re going to be around for a while. Pretty much all their guys are in their 20s. Pretty much all their big-name guys are in their 20s, and they don’t show any signs of slowing down.”
He continued,“So there’s going to be a lot of teams that’s trying to figure out ways to put personnel together to try and match that if they’re able to actually face them in a playoff series, both Eastern Conference and Western Conference. Because they’re built for—from my eyes, they’re built to last a few years. So we’ll see.”
Indeed, the Warriors, if they remain intact, will be the heavy favorite to win their third title in four years entering the 2017-18 season. Meanwhile, James’ place as one of the greatest players in basketball history and a global iconic figure is as fixed as an Egyptian pyramid. However, the Warriors have clearly passed the Cavaliers by and the Celtics are rapidly gaining on them in the East, which puts James’ hopes of winning more titles in Cleveland in peril.