The Golden State Warriors will no doubt be licking their wounds this summer before attempting to regain their place at the top of the NBA during the 2016-17 season, but there's no doubt this one is going to sting for a while.
The Cleveland Cavaliers became the first team in NBA Finals history to recover a 3-1 deficit to win the NBA Championship in seven games and thwarted the Warriors from completing the greatest season in history.
Golden State won a record 73 games during the regular season and then came to within one game of retaining their Larry O'Brien trophy too. The Chicago Bulls of 96 - who the Warriors dethroned for the greatest regular season record ever - went on to win the title that year and complete a sensational season.
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Without the title, it's a hollow season for the Warriors. Their All-Star forward Draymond Green feels the same way about his own 32 point performance last night in a losing effort.
When asked if he took any solace from his own standout performance, Green barely let the reporter finish.
"No – (expletive) no,” he told USA TODAY Sports as he walked out of Oracle Arena after the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 93-89 win in Game 7 of the NBA Finals on Sunday. “We lost. I’d rather have zero (points), and have everybody say, ‘Draymond didn’t show up and he sucked. But they won a championship.’ That’s all I care about. That’s all I’ve ever been about. That’s what I’ll always be about.”
“I don’t think it ever got away,” Green said of the game that had 20 lead changes. “At the end of the day, they made a shot. When both teams struggled offensively at the end to make a shot, Kyrie made a tough shot. It happens. That’s why he’s the player he is. He made a tough shot.”
Green did go on to shed some light on his relationship with LeBron James, who went on to win the Finals MVP award unanimously despite an excellent showing from teammate Kyrie Irving.
After their altercation in game four, which led to Green serving a one-game suspension, it had been speculated that there was some bad blood brewing between Green and James, but the Dubs forward move to squash those rumours and insisted he holds LeBron in nothing but the highest regard.
“In the same place we were before,” Green told USA TODAY Sports of his relationship with James. “Mad respect. That’s family. It ain’t no hard feelings. I’ve got nothing but love and respect for LeBron. He’s a competitor. I’m a competitor. We had our moment during the (series). Who gives a (expletive)?
“If you don’t have it, then – it’s basketball. Hey, we’re trying to win a championship. They were trying to win a championship. Stuff happens. But ain’t no love lost. It is what it is. The love is still there. The respect will always be there.”
It's nice to see there is no bitterness from Green, even only moments after a crushing loss. Roll on next season and the next battle between two fierce competitors, and friends.