Constant Reviews Have Hurt the NBA Finals

I can’t believe the stuff I heard about these NBA Finals.
By now, it’s over and the Golden State Warriors prevailed in 5 games, or the Cleveland Cavaliers clawed back to extend the series by winning Monday night’s contest out west.
Since this article is written and goes to press before we know who won, I can say I would be more than a bit surprised if the Warriors didn’t finish LeBron and company off, especially after the game 4 embarrassment in Cleveland.
Here is what I can’t understand.
1. The reaction of people who complain that the league is dominated by only a handful of teams, maybe even fewer than that, and that it’s bad for the game.
    Guess what? It’s been that way almost forever. Remember the Los Angeles Lakers, the Chicago Bulls, the Boston Celtics, the Miami Heat, etc.?
    That’s the way it is in professional basketball. With only five guys on the floor, if you are fortunate to have at least one of the few superstars playing in that particular era, you will dominate.
    It’s that simple. Long before I broadcast the NBA Finals on CBS, the Celtics with the Bill Russell group and the Lakers with Wilt, West and Baylor were out in front. By a mile.
During the 80’s, it was Bird and Magic, along with the other brilliant performers from both teams. McHale, Parish, Kareem, Worthy et al. Sure, there were a couple of contenders, The Sixers were champions with Julius Erving and Moses Malone. The Jazz were contenders with Stockton and Karl Malone. The Rockets had their moments, as well as the Bad Boys from Detroit.
Then came the likes of Michael Jordan, Shaq, Kobe… get the idea.
So now, it’s LeBron James and Steph Curry, who now has Kevin Durant as a teammate. There are never ten superstars in the league at one time. Those lucky ones that have the precious few,
win championships.
2. Why do people try to diminish LeBron James?
   Let’s face it. He’s the best player in the game today and while you can argue for Michael Jordan with his multiple titles, is likely the best of all-time. Until the next one comes along. And he will.
We live in the era of social media and constant media coverage in general, which makes it more difficult to avoid the continual glare from opinion-makers and  questioners. There’s no privacy anymore.
I think James has handled himself off-the-court beautifully. On the court he can do anything. While I do think he’s a more polarizing figure than Jordan, LeBron , with his big advantage in size and versatility and beat you countless ways. He hasn’t always had the best support, and maybe you can say that about Michael as well, but his skills combined with his physicality cannot be challenged.
I appreciate that when it comes to being team players, there’s no argument for either one. But to knock LeBron James is absurd.
3. This year’s NBA Finals have been unexciting and boring.
Don’t tell that to Warriors fans. They’ll take being champions, if that’s the way it worked out. What is a phenomenal achievement to me is the fact that the Warriors were 15-0 in post-season before they lost. That, to me, is truly amazing. Also a fact is, the games are played and what transpires is what it is. It has nothing to do with last season,
or even the last game. It’s just the way it comes out. I guarantee, after next year’s Super Bowl, you will hear how lackluster it was compared to the year before. Really? Can anything match the Patriots and Falcons? I doubt it. But it will be what it is. I personally think there is too much comparison with almost everything that goes on in sports. Why do we have to rate every game, every players performance, every season. Maybe it comes from rating the top 10 plays every night on ESPN.
Few will remember, but when I covered those Celtics-Lakers series in the 80’s, the individual games rarely came down to the wire. There were a few, like Magic’s baby hook at Boston Garden, but for the most part, the team that imposed its will each game often crushed the other, winning by as many as 20-plus points. You can look it up.
Last year, the Cavs rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win the championship. First team to do that. This year, the Warriors didn’t worry about setting records for most regular season victories. They prepared to win a title. By the way, you may like or dislike the way the game is played today. The preponderance of 3-point shots brings to mind what Jeff Van Gundy told me years ago.
The game of basketball is “make or miss”. It’s never been more true than it is today. I’m not a big fan of that style, but I accept that’s the way the game is today.
Finally, I do have one comment on what I’ve seen in the NBA Finals, especially in game 4. Once upon a time, the officials on the court were in control of the game. No longer. They seem to be there to walk over to the press table and view a play, just as we’ve seen on television. Anything that presents an issue is reviewed. It not only makes the game longer, it snuffs out the drama of a contest that is built on continuous action. It is a huge wet blanket to the game. It’s not only the NBA. It’s now every sport. College basketball, baseball, you name it. All in the same boat. It’s taken away from the excitement.
I know. You’ve got to get it right. We go along with the human element with the players and coaches. Why can’t we do the same with the officials? Why does someone in a room miles away make determinations on something an official is there to call? Mistakes are a part of sports. A big part.
I think the constant reviews have hurt.