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Golden State Warriors Face Cleveland Cavaliers In Historic NBA Finals Rematch


This year's NBA Finals are guaranteed to be historic. Either the Golden State Warriors will cap a record 73-win season with a title or the Cleveland Cavaliers will finally bring a championship home for the first time in over 50 years, a championship in any major professional sport.

So there's more than a little bit writing on this rematch when it tips off tonight in Oakland, and we are going to hear now from a couple of fans. Bay Area native Damian Ortellado is loyal to the Warriors. He's a research analyst. Welcome to the program.

DAMIAN ORTELLADO: Hi, there. Great to be here.

SIEGEL: Darron Lewis lives in Cleveland. He is a combat veteran who received the Purple Heart and plays for the Cleveland Wheelchair Cavaliers. Welcome to the program.

DARRON LEWIS: Thanks for having me, sir.

SIEGEL: Damian, are you nervous about this series?

ORTELLADO: I think I feel better about this series than about OKC, which was a real scare, but, you know, Cleveland is a great team. So, you know, I think we have a good shot especially given what we got through.

SIEGEL: OKC, of course, Oklahoma City took the Warriors to a seven-game series. Darron Lewis, you nervous?

LEWIS: No, not really, sir, just focused. Like last year after we lost it, we said we'll be back. We're back, so now we got a mission.

SIEGEL: You got a mission, you know, it's good to hear fans both of whom speak of their team as we. You're talking about - you're - this is part of you, this team. I'm curious to hear how important your team is to you. Damian, I mean, how important are the Golden State Warriors to you?

ORTELLADO: Well, you know, they give me joy. They give me anguish. You know, I grew up watching them and kind of being disappointed on a regular basis, going to a fan appreciation night and not feeling very appreciated.

But, you know, yeah, it's been a point of pride for the Bay and especially with, you know, the way that the Giants have represented the Bay recently and the Sharks now. It's a good time to be a Bay Area fan.

SIEGEL: And when they win you're happy?

ORTELLADO: I am ecstatic. I can't tell you I was - Saturday when we pulled it out of game six, I was jumping on my friend (laughter). I'm pretty sure he was a little bit frightened, but I think happy is a little bit of an understatement.

SIEGEL: Darron Lewis, how important are the Cleveland Cavaliers to you?

LEWIS: Well, to me, I play for the Cleveland Wheelchair Cavs, so I look at them as my bigger brothers.

SIEGEL: We should explain that you lost a leg in Afghanistan. Is that right?


SIEGEL: Is playing for the Wheelchair Cavs an important part of your life now?

LEWIS: Aw, yes. It is a big part. Like, if it wasn't for wheelchair basketball, I'm not sure what I would be doing, sir, because, like I said, I got hurt in Afghanistan. I had lost my leg in 2012, so it was like I didn't really want to do anything until my therapist told me about wheelchair basketball. And I knew I was about to get ready to retire to come out, so I had to see if we had a team here in Cleveland because I wanted to come back home to be with my family.

And I looked it up, and I was like, oh, man, we've got a team. So I just came, tried out and been playing since. You know, I don't compare myself to Lebron James, but it's like on my type of level for wheelchair basketball. And it's like what I've been through the military, it's like the way he go about himself is like, you know, I look up to that and to our city - like, we say, we haven't had a championship since 1964, so it would mean a lot to our city if we can pull this off this time.

SIEGEL: Darron Lewis, realistically what do you think the outcome of this final series is going to be?

LEWIS: Realistically, I'm going - it's going to go a seven. We're going to take it 4-3.

SIEGEL: So you think that the Cavs can win the final game on the road in California.

LEWIS: Yes, sir. It's like how they took it one here, well, that's last year - doing them a favor.

SIEGEL: You're going to return the favor, OK. And, Damian, what do you think, seven games?

ORTELLADO: I don't know if I could take another seven-game series. I'm going to hope for less. Then again, you know, it would be nice to see the Warriors take it in Oakland this time. You know, seven wouldn't be so bad on that note, but I'm hoping for, you know, closer to four or five (laughter).

SIEGEL: Well, thanks to both of you for talking with us about this year's NBA Finals series.

ORTELLADO: Yeah, thank you.

LEWIS: Thank you, sir, for having me. I really appreciate this.

SIEGEL: That's Darron Lewis, Cleveland Cavs fan and member of the Cleveland Wheelchair Cavs, and Damian Ortellado who's a big fan of the Golden State Warriors. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.