The start of the 2017-18 NBA season is close and a new rivalry is brewing. Yes, everyone believes in the Kevin Durant vs Russell Westbrook rivalry, which could be better if they meet in the playoffs. However, the first game of the season pits the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Boston Celtics. Kyrie Irving, now a Boston Celtic, makes this game much more interesting. It now starts a personal battle between himself and LeBron James.
These two stars are like other past duos with multiple problems; Westbrook and Durant had success but didn’t win a title. Westbrook wanted to take most shots thus making Durant join the Golden State Warriors. Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal won three titles together, yet they had personal beefs over inconsequential matters. Irving and James are in that same category.
Irving wanted to be the man in Cleveland, leading his squad to victory. When James came back to Cleveland in 2014, everything changed. Despite them making three straight Finals and winning one title over Golden State, it wasn’t enough. Everyone knew that these two couldn’t coexist because of ego and immature decisions by James. Every season it was about getting more all-stars and role players for the team. Complaining so much to the media irritated Irving, especially when James said they needed another playmaker.
They get this old squad into the NBA Finals and lose in five games. This resulted in Irving requesting a trade to get away from James. The 25-year-old wants to prove to everyone how great of a player he really is. But Irving is a below-average defender in half court possessions and fast break opportunities. Being surrounded by a talented Celtics team gives Boston a chance to make their first NBA Finals since 2010. Their biggest obstacle standing in their way, however, is the King.
The King will do whatever it takes to beat Boston down so badly, whether it is on opening night or during the postseason. Cleveland has gotten slightly worst, but won’t stop making moves. They can still add another star to beat Boston and compete with Golden State, but Boston isn’t going to give up easily. Irving is at least a 25 point scorer. Pairing him with Gordon Hayward and a nice supporting cast led by Brad Stevens gives them an opportunity to be legit championship contenders.
This season won’t be just about Golden State repeating. It will be about two former teammates competing for pride and bragging rights. The NBA needs this rivalry and hopefully it lasts for a few years.