|Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic|
Photo courtesy of Joe Faraoni, ESPN
“At home (Connecticut) I get up at 4:15 a.m.,” says Golic from ESPN’s set at Fan Fest at the Gateway Plaza. “While we’re here, I get to sleep until 5 a.m.”
Golic, the Willowick native who spent nine seasons in the NFL, returns home to find the Cavs in an 0-2 hole against the defending champion Golden State Warriors. “Cavs fans don’t want to hear it, but Golden State is the better team right now,” says the 53-year-old Golic. “The Cavs players look in the mirror and they know they have to play better. They’re good enough to beat this team, and I fully expect Cleveland to win tonight.”
While a potential victory tonight could change the narrative of the series, a loss will all but bury the team’s hopes for a title. “Tomorrow morning we’re either going to be talking about how the Cavs are right back in it or we’ll be talking about Golden State as one of the greatest teams of all time,” says Golic, who talks with us about the Finals, LeBron James and his co-host.
Q: What has been the difference in the series thus far?
A: The role players. In the first two games the bench for Golden State has shot 62 percent, and the bench for Cleveland has shot 31 percent. I was a role player in the NFL, and when you’re asked to perform, you need to contribute. Against a team like Golden State, you need all of your guys to step it up.
Q: Are you surprised by how the series has played out to this point?
A: I think everybody expected a different series. I thought with [Kevin] Love and Kyrie [Irving], Cleveland had a team that could match the Warriors’ 3-point shooting. With Love and Irving out last year, a lot of people didn’t believe Golden State won a legitimate NBA title. Right now, they’re showing everybody that they did.
Q: Are the Cavs relying too much on James in this series?
A: LeBron is the best player in the league. But you need more than one superstar to win in the NBA. That’s why he was able to win a title in Miami. Fairly or unfairly, a lot is asked of him. Cleveland’s offense is too segmented right now and LeBron has shot just eight free throws in the first two games.
Q: What’s it like working alongside Mike Greenberg?
A: The show has been on 17 years but with Greenie it feels like 30 years. We’re very different. We come from different upbringings. I have to explain to him the difference between a flat-head screwdriver and a Phillips screwdriver. Some times I just shake my head in disbelief.