If you’ve perused social media at all in the past five months, I’m sure numerous people have reminded you that the Golden State Warriors blew a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers. As of last night, the Warriors are no longer alone among teams in 2016 to blow such a lead in their league finals. The Cleveland Indians suffered a similar fate at the hands of the Chicago Cubs in the World Series. So now the question arises… which team’s descent from the brink of a championship to runner up was a more historic collapse?
While the Indians’ collapse was certainly heartbreaking for a team and fan-base that hasn’t won a World Series in 68 years, in my book the Warriors’ NBA Finals flop still holds the title for the bigger collapse in a 2016 final. Here’s why:
The Warriors Regular Season
Yes, the 2015-16 Warriors have the record for the best regular season ever in NBA history, but that’s all it will ever be now. They were one game away from immortalizing what would have been the most dominant season ever put together by an NBA team. Their greatness in the regular season will be forever overshadowed by their inability to close out Cleveland in the Finals. Not only that, but the Warriors had Steph Curry, the NBA’s first ever unanimous regular season MVP. While the Indians roster certainly was full of talented players, no player on the team received the same recognition for his play the same way Curry did.
Draymond Green Suspension
There were no issues that prevented the Cubs or the Indians from putting their best starting lineup on the field for all seven games of the World Series. The Warriors, however, saw star Draymond Green suspended from Game 5 of the series for hitting LeBron James in the groin. Whether the suspension was warranted or not, Game 5 provided the turning point for the Cavs to start their run at history. The impact Green could have had on the game will forever be questioned. Would he have made enough of a difference to win Game 5? All we can do now is speculate.
There can only be one First Team
The Cavs’ comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals was the first ever to occur in the NBA Finals. While it doesn’t make it any less painful for the Indians or their fans, they were not the first team to blow a 3-1 lead in the World Series. The 1925 Washington Senators hold the rights to that unfortunate title. The 1968 St. Louis Cardinals were up 3-1 against the Detroit Tigers and were also unable to seal the deal. They did the same thing against the Kansas City Royals in 1985. The Baltimore Orioles shared a similar fate vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1979. The point is, while it may not offer too much solace to Cleveland, the Indians were only the most recent team to blow a 3-1 lead in the World Series. At least they share that company with a handful of other teams.
The Warriors, however, are currently the only NBA team to have blown a 3-1 Finals lead. I have no doubt that another team in the future will share a similar fate, but history always remembers two teams: the first to do something, and the most recent to do it. Unfortunately for Golden State, there’s no such thing as a second first.
While the numbers behind the leads appear the same, the Warriors’ 2016 Finals collapse is on a different scale than that of the Indians. Does that mean Cleveland fans should be let off the hook from the 3-1 jokes? That’s up to how vengeful you might be feeling after five months of reading them. And while you can certainly make the case that it’s time Indians fans began reaping what they’ve sown. Is it karma? Who knows, all I know is, I won’t let the Indians blowing a 3-1 lead distract me from the fact that the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead.
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