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The Noob's Guide to the NBA Finals

Kyle Terada/USA Today (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

I AM fully aware that the Philippines is a basketball-crazy nation, so you may think there is no need to put up a "noob's guide" for the NBA Finals.

Well, there is still a reason to do so, regardless if you're new to the game or not.

The upcoming showdown between Golden State and Cleveland for the coveted Larry O'Brien title starting on Friday (Philippine Time) has a lot of intriguing twists. So what are the things to consider about the series? Read along.

An epic rematch in the making

The incoming Warriors-Cavaliers series marks the 14th time the same two teams who squared up in the previous year's finals would go at it again in the present day. History, however, could favor the Cavs. The previous season's runners-up are 7-6 in the current season's finals. In fact, six of the last seven finals rematches were won by the previous seasons' bridesmaids. The last team to repeat as champs against the same opponent? The Chicago Bulls in 1998. That leads us to a popular argument in last year's finals. Cleveland came in the 2015 finals shorthanded with the injuries to Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. Now that they're healthy this year, can they finally give the city a club sports title for the first time in a long time?

The epic drought

Now that I've mentioned the "first time in a long time" part, let's talk about it here. Cleveland has never won a pro team sports title since 1964. To give you a glimpse of how long the city's drought for a club title is, here are some sporty things that happened that year:

1. The Cleveland Browns' feat that time was the third to the last time the NFL crowned a champion in its "primitive age". The modern-day NFL final, aka the Super Bowl, would only be introduced in 1967. The Browns have yet to win a Super Bowl. In fact, they have been a moribund franchise during the Super Bowl era.

2. That same year, the Warriors lost in the NBA Finals to the Boston Celtics in the first time Wilt Chamberlain faced off with Bill Russell in a titular showdown. So the Cavs can end the city drought while handing the Dubs a finals defeat.

3. The year 1964 was also the last time the UAAP did not have a men's basketball champion with the moniker "Warriors" before the Warriors, the UE Warriors, that is, pulled off the historic seven-peat. We all know who were the primary anchors of the said championship string. The 1964 UAAP champs, UST, actually got a rookie gem in the 1965 season that goes by the name Danny Florencio, and the UE-UST finals that year actually became "Jaworski vs. Florencio".

4. During 1964, nobody gave a damn in forming what would now be the PBA. That time, the top tier cagefest was the MICAA, and the league was at the height of a rivalry between YCO and Ysmael. YCO won over Ysmael in the 1964 Finals, completing a back-to-back title conquest that canceled that of Ysmael in 1961 and 1962. YCO would join the PBA as the first Tanduay team (another Tanduay team came but under Asia Brewery), but the franchise was sold in 1988 to Purefoods. An SMC acquisition later, the team then known as the Painters and the Rhum Makers became the Star Hotshots.

Varejao's dilemma

It may be tough for a player who has been with a franchise for a long time to part ways with them. That's the case for Anderson Varejao. The Brazilian big, who was with LeBron James in Cleveland's only two NBA finals appearances in 2007 and 2015, ended up with Golden State following a pair of mid-season transactions. With both the Warriors and Cavs in the finals, Varejao became the first player ever to be part of the NBA Finalists of a certain season. With him playing his former squad, will Varejao put on a statement?

Rookie milestone alert

We have an interesting rookie angle in the finals, but I did not mean a rookie player. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue could be four wins away from becoming the fifth first-year gaffer to win the title, repeating what Warriors tactician Steve Kerr did last year. Kerr, on the other hand, could become the first mentor in 57 years to score a 2-peat in his first two seasons as coach.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno