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Golden State beat an injury-depleted Cleveland team on its own turf during the 2015 NBA Finals. The Warriors then partied so hard, Curry wondered whether the visitors’ locker room still smelled of champagne seven months after the fact.
Cleveland returned the favor in 2016, erasing a 3-1 series deficit to win its first-ever NBA title on Golden State’s home court. And then the Cavaliers trolled the Warriors with crudely phrased cookies at a Halloween shindig more than three months later.
Sprinkle in some fractious moments during their 2016-17 regular-season series—Cleveland won the first meeting on a Kyrie Irving buzzer-beater, 109-108, in Ohio; Golden State tromped on the Cavs in the second game, 126-91, at home—and you have a full-blown, unmatched NBA beef.
“We don’t look at it as a rival,” James said of Golden State, per Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon. “They’re a great team. They’ve been the best team the last couple years, last three years.”
Oh, really? Well, Green made it clear he disagreed in an interview with TNT that was aired during the Warriors’ Jan. 16 win over the Cavaliers (via CBS Sports’ James Herbert):
I don’t have much love for the Cleveland Cavaliers at all, nor do I think they have much love for us. And that’s what makes it fun to play against each other. That’s the true meaning of building a rivalry, which I think this has become a rivalry. And I think they’ll say the same thing, and if they don’t, they’re blowing smoke and they’re lying.
If Draymond says it on national television, it must be true. (Also: This is just plain true.)
Too much has happened between these two teams on the Association’s biggest stages for them to like each other. The Warriors only poured more gasoline on the fire by signing Durant. And with the competitive landscape being what it is now, this feud is (thankfully) set to last for a long, long time.
Dan Favale covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @danfavale.