The Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors primarily because LeBron James is the greatest player of his generation, because Kyrie Irving outplayed Stephen Curry and because Cleveland controlled the paint. But the Basketball Gods never let a series go by without tipping the scales one way or the other, and it's plainly obvious why they had reason to favor the Cavaliers.
Not because of any special sacrifice Cleveland made, mind you. Because of the Warriors' sins. Here are five ways the Warriors angered the Basketball Gods leading up to Game 7.
1. Stephen Curry's champagne comment
Back in January, Golden State was heading back to Cleveland for the first time since Game 6 of the 2015 NBA Finals, the night in which the Warriors celebrated a championship in the visitors' locker room at The Q. Curry remarked on the occasion.
"Obviously, walking in the locker room, it'll be good memories," Curry said Sunday. "Hopefully, it still smells a little bit like champagne."
Curry is inherently respectful and he surely didn't mean anything by it. But in a sporting environment where competitors look for reasons to get mad everywhere, he had to know immediately how that would come out. Celebrating proudly and loudly is one thing. But the Basketball Gods don't look kindly on rubbing it in, and that's exactly how this comment looked.
2. Draymond Green's penchant for nut attacks
Green got Steven Adams in the groin twice, including a kick that earned a Flagrant-2 and universal scorn. Then he had his retaliatory swipe in Game 4 against the Cavaliers. Forces both Earthbound and cosmic meted out justice on Green. His Game 5 suspension will forever be remembered as part and parcel of this championship series, and we should also respect the wishes of the Basketball Gods, who did not want to see such behavior rewarded. There's a reason Chris Paul's never won anything.
3. The Warriors' words for LeBron
Just after that retaliatory swipe in Game 4, Green apparently called LeBron a b-tch ... to his face ... twice. The Warriors are 0-3 since then. LeBron has averaged 36 points, almost 10 assists and almost 12 rebounds per game since then. I bet Draymond isn't going to be calling LeBron that or another other word if the Cavs and Warriors meet in the finals again next year.
I bet Marreese Speights won't be tweeting baby bottle emojis, either. And Klay Thompson probably isn't going to want to talk about LeBron's feelings any more, huh? Perhaps just keep those thoughts on LeBron F'n James' manhood to yourselves next time.
Watch: The war of words before Game 5
4. The fans' hubris
It's like half the Warriors fans forgot how recently they were the miserable bunch decades removed from a title. They made a full heel turn during the finals, creating totally absurd posters and wearing the most egregious T-shirts. Seriously, there is little the Basketball Gods hate more than uncreative and crude signs and T-shirts.
Let's lump Ayesha Curry's quick Twitter trigger finger in here, too. I won't criticize Mrs. Curry for having opinions and getting inflamed by her team's failures -- that's all perfectly human and normal. But accusing the league of being rigged because for once something doesn't go the Warriors' way? Giving fuel to those insane conspiracy theorists? Not cool, A.C. Not cool.
5. Joe Lacob's quotes in the New York Times Magazine
The coup de grace of self-inflicted cosmic pain: these Joe Lacob quotes from an April piece in the New York Times Magazine:
When I asked him about the previous night's game, he could hardly contain himself. He boasted that the Warriors are playing in a far more sophisticated fashion than the rest of the league. "We've crushed them on the basketball court, and we're going to for years because of the way we've built this team," he said. But what really set the franchise apart, he said, was the way it operated as a business. "We're light-years ahead of probably every other team in structure, in planning, in how we're going to go about things," he said. "We're going to be a handful for the rest of the N.B.A. to deal with for a long time."
You win one title and a bunch of regular season games and start bragging like this? The God of Swag may smile, but the God of Humility is always nearby and ready to strike. And strike he did.
I wrote about this amazing quote back in April, and noted that Narcissus died admiring his own reflection. Yep.
The Warriors have been humbled. May they come crawling back into the pews soon.
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