XOJET’s Guide to the 2017 NBA Finals
Any time the conversation includes Magic Johnson and Larry Bird – with a splash of Michael Jordan, for good measure – you’re floating in a lofty basketball realm.
Hence why these 2017 NBA Finals feature more than another captivating clash between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers. Another duel between Stephen Curry and LeBron James. Another dose of Kyrie Irving zooming to the basket, plus the fresh intrigue of Kevin Durant playing in his first Finals with the Warriors.
There’s an extra layer of hoops history involved, and that’s what makes the impending series, starting Thursday night (June 1st), one of the most highly anticipated Finals in years.
Here’s history: This is the first time ever the same teams have met in the NBA Finals in three consecutive years. Warriors-Cavs counts as a tantalizing matchup reminiscent of the memorable 1980s tussles between Magic and Bird, the transcendent stars of their generation. Those Lakers and Celtics played each other in the Finals three times in a four-year span (1984, ’85 and ’87).
The only comparable stretch came in 1962-66, when the Lakers and Celtics met in the Finals four times in five years.
The Warriors and Cavs, of course, bring fresh history together. Golden State won the 2015 championship in six games, the franchise’s first NBA title in 40 years. The Warriors celebrated right there on Cleveland’s home court, much to the dismay of the Cavs and their long-frustrated fans.
Then, last year, James and Irving led the Cavs on a spirited comeback from a 3-1 deficit. They ultimately won Game 7 in Oakland, giving Cleveland its first championship in any major sport in 52 years – and, yes, the Cavs celebrated right there on the Warriors’ home court.
Photo: Bryce Edwards via Flickr.
Beyond reviving memories of Magic and Bird, this year’s Finals also give James another chance to chase Jordan, still recognized as the game’s greatest player ever. James is stirring valid comparisons to Jordan; LeBron’s teams have reached the Finals in seven consecutive years (four with Miami and the past three with the Cavs), and James is playing at a higher level than ever before.
One compelling piece of evidence: James passed Jordan as the NBA’s all-time leading playoff scorer in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, when he went for 35 points in Cleveland’s clinching victory over Boston.
James averaged 32.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 7.0 assists as the Cavs steamed through to the Eastern Conference title. They won 12 of 13 games, slipping only once against the Celtics, in part because James received ample support from Irving (24.5 points per game) and forward Kevin Love (17.2), among others.
Of course, the Warriors zipped through the Western Conference playoffs even more impressively. They became the first team to start the postseason 12-0, and their average margin of victory was a preposterous 16.3 points.
Curry and Durant lead the way, but they have a strong supporting cast. Draymond Green and Klay Thompson also are All-Stars, giving Golden State enough firepower to conquer its uncertain coaching situation. Steve Kerr’s status remains in doubt because of lingering complications from 2015 back surgery, but acting head coach Mike Brown merely is 10-0 as Kerr’s stand-in.
Can Kevin Durant make the difference in Golden State’s yearlong quest for revenge? Or will LeBron and the Cavs fend off a historically stacked offense and retain their crown?
Now, at last, comes the main event.
XOJET has an official partnership with the Warriors and can take basketball fans, hassle-free, to both host cities—including special rates between the Bay Area and Cleveland (call us at 1-877-599-6538 for more information).
For fans flying into the Bay Area, we recommend Metropolitan Oakland International Airport (KOAK; about 10 minutes from Oracle Arena) or the Signature FBO at San Francisco International Airport (KSFO; about 35 from Oracle Arena and 20 minutes from downtown San Francisco). As for Cleveland, your best bet is Burke Lakefront Airport (BKL; about 10 minutes from Quicken Loans Arena), then Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE; about 16 minutes from Quicken Loans Arena).
WHERE TO STAY
We recommend one of the luxury hotels in downtown San Francisco, about 25 minutes across the Bay Bridge from Oakland’s Oracle Arena (but always account for traffic).
The St. Regis San Francisco: In the heart of the SoMa district, The St. Regis San Francisco has luxury rooms and suites with singular style as well as close-by opportunities to delve into the arts. Visit the Museum of African Diaspora, located within the hotel, then head next door to explore the new $305-million addition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Four Seasons San Francisco: It’s across from Yerba Buena Gardens, and it’s the Four Seasons. Along with classic luxury and a prime location in the SoMa district, you get spectacular panoramas of San Francisco and curated wine tastings from local vineyards without even leaving the hotel.
Photo: The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco
The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco: San Francisco’s only five-diamond hotel is The Ritz-Carlton in Nob Hill, an elegant enclave with exceptional views of the city skyline. Find contemporary art throughout, as well as a marble-clad lobby that complements the sophisticated blues and grays of the rooms and suites.
Palace Hotel: A striking balance of classic and contemporary, the Palace Hotel is San Francisco’s first true luxury property boasting a grand lobby with vaulted ceilings, a historic, dark-paneled chophouse, and 556 renovated rooms and 53 suites gleaming in modern luxury.
The Ritz-Carlton: It’s the heritage address and within walking distance to Quicken Loans Arena. The Ritz-Carlton Club level is a good deal if you’re going spend a lot of time at the hotel, given the complimentary breakfast and appetizers. A Corner Guest Room is the way to go if you want a view of the lake.
The Hilton Cleveland Downtown: Opened in June, this 32-story, 600-room hotel on Lakeside Avenue is a major addition to the downtown scene, a 20-minute walk from Quicken Loans Arena. There’s an indoor pool, 32nd-story sky bar, and the three-level Burnham restaurant, named for the architect who planned downtown Cleveland and also downtown Chicago. “Make no little plans,” he once said, and both teams have followed his prescription. The Hilton is geared up for pre-game euphoria and after-game celebration or commiseration.
WHAT TO EAT
Located in the SoMa district at the vanguard of San Francisco’s sizzling culinary scene, minimalist Benu and historic Saison each boast three Michelin stars and exemplary seasonal tasting menus. Then there’s the must-try one-Michelin-starred eateries with extensive wine lists: Californios (gourmet Mexican), SPQR (locally sourced Italian), and Aster (innovative Californian). Other standouts include the ‘20s- and ‘30s-inspired cocktails of The Saratoga in Tenderloin and the inventive Italian comfort food of Mission’s Beretta.
Photo: Spice Kitchen and Bar, courtesy of Kayla Schneider (Full Bloom Photography)
The three top restaurants are l’Albatros, Flying Fig, and Sans Souci. Our Cleveland insiders second l’Albatros, but also suggest a trio of not-so-obvious places near Quicken Loans Arena: Spice Kitchen and Bar, Crop Bistro, and Tremont Taphouse.
To book your private charter into Oakland or Cleveland, or to arrange any additional services for your Finals experience, please contact one of our personal Aviation Advisors (1-877-599-6538) or reserve online. From all of us at XOJET, here’s to a hard-fought, captivating finale to what’s been another memorable season in the NBA. May the best team win!
*Featured photo: Jim Mattis via Flickr.