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Saturday Sports: Champs Crowned In Basketball, Hockey


Time for sports.


SIMON: The Golden State Warriors added to their luster last night, defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers 108-85 to win their third title over the Cavs in four years. OK, I'll say it - they are maybe the greatest basketball team of all time. NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman joins us. Tom, thanks for being with us.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: You sound thrilled.

SIMON: You know, I am for Coach Kerr, you know, who's a great guy. They're a great team. Cleveland rocks, but Golden State's the bomb, aren't they?

GOLDMAN: They really are, and they are - and there was some breaking news last night, Scott.

SIMON: LeBron's hand. How can you expect even the greatest player in the world to win a game when he had to play three games with a busted hand?

GOLDMAN: Breaking...

SIMON: Yeah.

GOLDMAN: Breaking news - get it? Yeah. So a self-inflicted injury, as LeBron James called it, happened after game one of the finals. Sorry to remind you about that. That game, of course, Cleveland almost won but lost in overtime after J.R. Smith lost track of the score at the end of regulation and dribbled the ball around instead of trying to score. After that, LeBron reportedly smashed his right hand, his shooting hand, on a blackboard in the locker room. Here's what he said about it last night.


LEBRON JAMES: You just don't get an opportunity like this on the road versus Golden State to be able to get a game one. You know, I let the emotions get the best of me and pretty much played the last three games with a broken hand, so that's what it is.

GOLDMAN: Now, his three-point shooting from long distance has become a weapon in his arsenal, as you know. And over the last three games after the injury, he attempted only 11 threes and made three of them. That appears to be a result of this injury. Now, look. Scott, he was impeccable during the entire postseason. He added to his enormous legacy by strapping the Cavs on his back, taking them as far as they got. But I think he has to come in for some criticism for this. He shouldn't have lost his head, certainly in such a way that might have affected his performance. He needed to be superhuman in this series. He was in game one but not after. At the very least, he should've slugged the blackboard with his left hand.

SIMON: (Laughter) You know, I - as you know, I was there in Cleveland. You know what I did? Every few minutes, I told J.R. Smith what the score was. That was my...


GOLDMAN: He appeared to pay attention. Thank you for doing that.

SIMON: So how good is it for basketball that you have an obvious winner year after year after year in Golden State?

GOLDMAN: You know, there is the argument that the NBA becomes one dimensional with a super team like this, that it needs parity. I personally think dynasties are exciting for fans. They create this big behemoth that people either love or hate. And the fun.

SIMON: Yeah, the old Chicago Bulls. I was fine with that.

GOLDMAN: Yeah, the fun comes in seeing if anyone can knock them off. And frankly, this year, it almost happened in the Western Conference finals against Houston.

SIMON: Yeah. I'm sure we'll be talking about what they call in Cleveland Clexit (ph) - the possibility that LeBron might (laughter) leave. But I do have to ask you about another sport before we go. The - look; we know that the NBA champs won't be invited to the White House. President Trump made that clear yesterday. What about hockey's Washington Capitals, who won the Stanley Cup - first time in franchise history - Thursday night? Alex Ovechkin, the great player who is their star, could also take the Caps to the Kremlin, couldn't he?


GOLDMAN: Beloved in D.C. and Moscow, where he's a friend of Putin's. In the current political climate, how many people can claim that? Yeah. But all hail the Caps. It was interesting to note the euphoria levels in D.C. Thursday night and Oakland last night. Washington definitely had this amazing feel of something new. The Warriors - it was like - you know, four years ago, they said we can't believe this. Last night, they could believe it, but it still was special.

SIMON: All right. NPR's Tom Goldman, thanks so much.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on NPR.org.