If you’ve spent more time in the last seven months keeping up with the Kardashians than the New York Knicks’ utter collapse, or you’ve analyzed every episode of How to Get Away With Murder instead of every minute of New Orleans’ Anthony Davis’s sudden onset domination, the Cleveland Cavaliers are your team.
The city of Cleveland hasn’t enjoyed a major sports title in more than 50 years—by far the longest drought for a city with teams in at least three sports. This Cavaliers roster may be the trainwreck to finally make it rain.
The Golden State Warriors, their newfound rivals in the NBA Finals, which begin Thursday, are an off-court snoozefest, more fond of praying than partying.
All the reasons hedonists may need to root for the Cavs are contained in the clip of LeBron James partying up shirtless in a hot tub with bottles of champagne surrounded by teammate J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Kyrie Irving while they groove out to Chedda Da Connect’s “Flicka Da Wrist.”
Nearly each of those dudes is badass and/or trainwreck-ish enough on his own to outdo the entire Warriors’ starting lineup.
Let’s start with the obvious: King James. The beloved child of Cleveland has returned after breaking the collective heart of the city—and his presence has brought a needed dose of glamorous swagger to the Rust Belt.
For one, the man is a sharp dresser, and he knows it. He’s considered a style icon in the NBA. He’s been the cover boy for GQ multiple times, rocking suits like it’s his job—which it actually is, sometimes.
James’s company produced the first ever NBA fashion show in February.
King James even managed to steal the show from Prince William and start a small scandal when he put his arm around the Duchess of Cambridge for nearly 20 seconds. British pearl-clutchers nearly choked to death, but nothing breaks James’s cool. He proceeded to lead the Cavaliers to a kickass season.
Then, there’s Iman Shumpert, another one of the more colorful Cavs. When he’s not on the court, he’s laying pretty solid tracks—and not just for being an athlete. His “Versace (Freestyle)” is considered decent, and he even did a special rap just for the Cavaliers’ 2015 playoff run.
The Cavaliers guard also got snaps—or at least attention—for his unique style, boasting and old school flat-top haircut. It was his signature ’do, and the basketball world was nothing short of devastated when he shaved it off at the start of the 2013-2014 season.
That’s still the look that he’s known for. In fact, Shumpert believes his hairstyle is so iconic and unique to him that he flat-out accused the hit Fox series Empire of ripping a character, Hakeem, off of his life. (Hakeem also has a flat-top.)
To be fair, on the show, Hakeem has a girlfriend named Tiana, who is an R&B singer, dancer, and actress, and Shumpert’s girlfriend is actually Teyana Taylor, a real-life R&B singer, dancer, and actress.
If, in fact, Empire stole a character from the Cavs’ roster, it surely only adds to the team’s indomitable coolness.
Then, there’s J.R. Smith. Off the court, he’s the team’s Lindsay Lohan—and not just because he has racked up a frightening amount of car accidents.
Smith isn’t exactly the classiest baller off the court. He is rumored to have forced the New York Knicks to hire his brother, Chris, onto the roster, even though he is most definitely subpar. That alleged nepotism is, perhaps, the most Kardashian-esque move by any NBA player.
He was fined $25,000 by the NBA for tweeting a photo of a bare-assed woman lying on the bed of his hotel room.
After a social media backlash to the backside, Smith tweeted it was “One of those days I wish I would have went to college!”
In February 2013, Smith exchanged Twitter messages with a female high school senior.
You already know this isn’t going to be good. After she told him she was coming to watch his game, he responded, “You trying to get the pipe?”
While Smith later appeared to elaborate on the “pipe” reference on Instagram by sharing a photo of actual pipes, it’s nearly impossible to think that’s where his mind was during the Twitter exchange.
Meanwhile, off the court, the only worthwhile member of the Warriors franchise is Riley Curry.
The toddler daughter of NBA MVP Stephen Curry is, admittedly, adorable. We cannot get enough of Riley handing her gum off to an underling or singing Big Sean’s “Blessings.” Seriously, the little lady is deserving of her own show on Bravo.
But it also says something when all of the Warriors’ cachet off the court comes from someone not old enough to write her own name.
Actually, that’s not entirely true. To give credit where credit is due, forward Draymond Green is a notorious trash-talker.
He had no problem sparring with the Los Angeles Clippers coach Glenn “Doc” Rivers, dismissing the opposing coach’s claim that he was soft with a “Cool story, Glenn” that went viral.
“That attitude has made him a Golden State crowd favorite and injected the Warriors with a badly needed strain of toughness,” wrote Jonathan Abrams at Grantland—emphasis on “much needed.” Anyway, Green’s mom is better at trash-talking than he is.
But trash-talking is a drop in the swag bucket compared to the Cavaliers’ off-the-court style, antics, and swagger.
It may not be the current Golden State Warriors’ fault that their personal lives are so yawn-inducing.
Their penultimate coach, Mark Jackson, was a bit of a Bible-thumper. When Jason Collins came out, he responded rather coolly with, “I know Jason Collins, I know his family, and am certainly praying for them at this time.”
While the Warriors were not the only NBA team to encourage time in chapel as a complement to time on the court, Jackson, who is an ordained pastor, appears to have been more adamant in his prayerful way.
“You go in (the Warriors’ locker room) before the game to just kind of chat and see what’s going on, and no one is there,” Tom Tolbert, who played for the Warriors from 1989-1992 and now does color commentary for their radio network, told USA Today last year. “They’re all in chapel.… It’s like the entire team. And then when chapel is over, pretty much the entire team comes parading into the locker room.”
By all accounts, Curry seems like a great father, a hard worker, and a generous man. Good for him and his family. But again and again, for excitement and drama, the Cavs ace it.
Remember that video James posted rocking in a hot tub with his team? There’s more to that story.
Rapper Lil B has publicly expressed his anger that James didn’t give him credit when he posted the video because those wrist-flicking moves are from his cooking dance.
The rapper known online as The Based God tweeted, “Sending a warning to lebron James Kyrie jr smith and iman shumpert yall stealing swag Lil B cooking dance what yall doing #warned—Lil B.” That’s right, the Cavs have their own hot tub-rooted beef with a rapper.
It’s simple, then. If you want a team with a history of inappropriately touching royalty, accusing Fox executives of stealing their lives for television, and earning threats from The Based God, the Cavs are for you.