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The Week In Sports

SCOTT SIMON: Are the Cavs and Warriors headed back to the finals, or is there a surprise in store? Howard Bryant of ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine joins us. Good morning, Howard.

HOWARD BRYANT: Good morning, Scott. How are you?

SIMON: Let's start in the East - OK? - because...

(Singing) All the little kids growing up on the skids say Cleveland rocks. Cleveland rocks.

BRYANT: (Laughter).

SIMON: They're up 2-zip over Toronto.

BRYANT: They're up 2-zip over Toronto, and they look great. They look as good as they have all year. And LeBron James suddenly look like he's 22 and not 30 - not post-30. He is an amazing basketball player, and it's amazing to me, also, when you watch how good that team has played. Suddenly, you're starting to think, well, maybe not having Kevin Love and not having Kyrie Irving last year would have made a difference, and that maybe - just maybe - that rematch between Cleveland and Golden State is exactly what the sports basketball fan needs to see. I think I'd like to see that rematch. I've been looking forward to it for a year now, actually.

SIMON: Golden State and Oklahoma City are tied 1-1 for the moment. I mean, you know, Golden State looked fine the other night, but - first game?

BRYANT: Yeah, and big problems - because I think that when you've got two superstars - Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are two of the best basketball players on Earth. And believe me, when they want to take over a game, they can beat anybody. So this is by no means a cakewalk. And I think that you've got two major issues if you're Golden State. Number one is - you've got to beat Oklahoma City, obviously. But number two is this thing that's hovering over you. You won 73 games. You won more games than any team in the history of the NBA. You're trying to be recognized as one of the greatest teams, if not the greatest single-season team of all time and defend your championship. And so then we start thinking about the pressure that comes with that. So they've got to get this game. They haven't trailed in a playoff series after three games, even since last year - since they played against Cleveland. So they really have to get it together here. This is a huge game tonight, and I'm looking forward to it. I'm actually really, really happy, Scott, because after all the slog of the regular season, these are great games.

SIMON: Yeah.

BRYANT: And the playoffs - for the second year in a row, it's been really, really tremendous stuff.

SIMON: We can't leave the week without talking about Roger Federer. He won't be at the French Open tomorrow - would have been his 66th Grand Slam appearance.

BRYANT: The greatest tennis player I've ever seen. Even - apologies to the Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal fans out there on the men's side. Roger Federer, in terms of his consistency, in terms of greatness, in terms of everything he's done - 17 Grand Slams - it's unreal. And I think - and also, to be 34 years old and to be as spry as he's been - most tennis players are done in their mid-20s. It's time to appreciate these guys. You know, you're looking at Serena Williams. You look at Venus. She might be finished after the Olympics. Serena's going to be 35 in September. And it really does go across all of the sports. I've been thinking about this the last couple of days - about just how lucky we've been to see these remarkable athletes. Kobe Bryant - David Ortiz is retiring this year. Tim Duncan might retire at the end of this season. And I think that we spend so much time in sports talking about the players and what they do and what they don't do. And now it's appreciation time because some of these iconic players are not - they are not going to be around that much longer.

SIMON: Yeah. Well, all right. It's a great time to appreciate them now. Howard Bryant of espn.com. Thanks so much, my friend. Talk to you soon.

BRYANT: Oh, my pleasure. Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: Did I have a chance to tell you Cleveland rocks? This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.