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Warriors, Cavaliers prepare for NBA Finals, the stakes are high on both benches

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NBA Finals
NBA Finals

The storylines for these NBA Finals stretch far beyond the legacies of LeBron James and Stephen Curry.

OAKLAND, Calif. (Diya TV) — The unprecedented fact that the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are preparing to square off in their third-straight NBA Finals matchup is a big enough storyline in itself to make this tournament an instant classic.

When the series kicks off Thursday night at Oracle Arena, the ramifications — on both benches — will run much deeper than settling a rubber match between two clubs that have struck up as deep a rivalry as any in the history of professional sports. Each team will send A-list players to the court, all of whom will have legacies on the line in a number of ways.

These Finals have the potential to play out in the likes of which we have never seen.

“It’s exciting,” Cavaliers forward Kevin Love said during Wednesday’s Finals media day. “You take the bus in here over the today, and you see that Finals logo. It’s special.

“It’s something that, being a basketball fan, and having come from a basketball family and having it in my blood, it’s — I grew up watching the Finals, and wanted to be part of the Finals. So to come in here today, it’s definitely something that’s not lost on us, and it’s a great opportunity for us.

“It’s special.”

Showcased at the front of every dialogue leading into Thursday night’s opening tipoff, forged into every storyline, is one the NBA hopes this series will make up for in what has largely been observed as a disappointing postseason tournament — the Cavaliers and Warriors literally demolished their opponents en route to their third consecutive meeting, with Golden State still undefeated and Cleveland having lost just one game these playoffs. The two teams have a combined playoff record this postseason of 24-1.

The leading men, of course, are the likes of Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry for the Warriors and LeBron James for the Cavaliers.

Durant so dramatically announced his move to Golden State last summer when the free agent window opened, this after he and his Oklahoma City Thunder teammates lost to the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals after squandering a 3-1 series lead. Durant has reached NBA’s mecca only once before in his career — in 2012, he and the upstart Thunder squared off against none other than LeBron James and the Miami Heat.

Durant has, since then, spent five years waiting to return to this stage, enduring one postseason shortcoming after the other.

The stakes for the 28-year-old Durant couldn’t be any more clear: win a championship this season, and his choice to join the Warriors last summer will become validated. For Golden State, a win in this series could potentially serve as the framework of the beginnings of the NBA’s next dynasty.

On the flip side, lose again to James, and failing to win a championship after joining a team that had already won a record 73 games and came within one win of a championship last season, could cast him adrift, similar to what happened to James when his Heat failed to beat the Dallas Mavericks in his first season in Miami in 2011.

“I just take it a day at a time,” Durant said. “I try not to think about, ‘[Was] this year better than the last?’ I know I’ve grown as a player, just through experience, from the last five years, but if I don’t go out there and execute, none of it matters.

“I’m here now. And everything… in the past? It happened, and I learned from it, and hopefully it makes me better this time around.”

Surely, Curry will share a similar sentiment. The 29-year-old two-time league MVP has seen his on-court performance tame in the past two NBA Finals, a far less version of the player that spends the regular season dominating the league. He won back-to-back MVP awards, but was beaten out for the Finals MVP award by Andre Iguodala when the Warriors won two years ago. And after being injured earlier in the playoffs last season he had moments of brilliance he couldn’t sustain as the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead and watched the Cavaliers celebrate a championship here a year ago.

Today, Curry returns to the sport’s mountaintop playing his basketball yet — he has averaged 28.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists while shooting 50.3 percent from the field and 43.1 percent from three-point range. Not only would a strong performance in the Finals serve to hush the critics who have labeled his regular season production as overhyped, but it would also allow the Warriors to erase the feeling of having a second straight title slip through their fingers last season.

“It’s been a great motivating factor,” he said. “I have great memories of and terrible memories of last year, but they’re both lessons that you can learn going into the series, knowing what it takes to win, how important every possession is, focusing on the details.

“I don’t want to feel what I felt last year, and to do everything in my power to attack every game with that kind of perspective.”

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Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen resigns

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Secretary Nielsen resigns

WASHINGTON, DC (Diya TV) —   Kirstjen Nielsen, the US Homeland Security Secretary, is stepping down over major differences with the administration on how to implement President Trump’s immigration policies.

Meanwhile, President Trump continues to campaign around the nation to make the case for his re-election in 2020. Over the weekend, he told a Las Vegas crowd India is charging 100% tariffs to the U.S. on many things and he wants to reciprocate. He added the Senate is not doing enough to change what he calls “stupid trade.”

The South Asian Bar Association’s Northern California chapter held their annual fundraising gala, a chance for judges, attorneys and the next generation to network and honor their peers.

The NBA Champion Golden State Warriors are moving to San Francisco in the fall, so they held their final Bollywood Night in Oakland. We’ll take you behind the scenes and introduce you to a member of the Warriors Dance Team that choreographed an epic Bollywood dance.

And Ravi Ahuja, the former CFO of Fox Networks, is now Walt Disney Television’s CFO and president of business operations.

Ravi Kapur & Alejandro Quintana contributed to this report.

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University of Houston’s President, Renu Khator joins the NCAA Division I Board

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NCAA board

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) —  Renu Khator, President & Chancellor of University of Houston, the first Indian American to lead a major research university in the U.S., is joining the NCAA’s Division I Board of Directors.

Framroze “Fram” Virjee is now permanent president of the California State University, Fullerton (CSUF). He was a private practice lawyer for nearly 30 years before becoming interim CSUF president last year.

Rutgers Law School announced Neal Katyal, the former Acting Solicitor General of the United States and Vanita Gupta, the former head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division will both be 2019 commencement speakers.

George Jacob, the President & CEO of non-profit Bay.org behind the ambitious Bay Ecotarium, received the 2019 Louie Kamookak Medal from the The Royal Canadian Geographic Society for making Canada’s geography better known to Canadians and to the world.

Ravi Kapur & Alejandro Quintana contributed to this report.

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Golden State Warriors host first-ever Sikh Awareness Night

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OAKLAND, CALIF. (Diya TV) — Oracle Arena was the site of the first-ever Sikh Awareness Night as the Golden State Warriors cruised to a 117-101 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies Monday night.

It was the second one in as many weeks throughout the NBA as the Los Angeles Clippers introduced it to their home crowd last week.

Other teams and leagues have previously hosted Sikh Heritage Nights, including the San Jose Sharks, who were the first NHL team last year to hold such an event.

Aman Singh, part of the local gurdwaras organization to put the event together, was excited for the community to be represented.

“We contribute to society here, so it’s great to be able to be part of this, to be able to have exposure and allow other folks in the community to get an idea of our heritage, Sikh values,” Singh said.

Fans got there early enough to take pictures outside Oracle and awaiting them inside was an up-close view of Stephen Curry’s highly-anticipated shootaround.

Soon enough, Singh — who was also coaching the pregame scrimmage — would hit the Warriors hardwood with 16 young kids from the Sikh community to shot hoops.

For 13-year-old Gagandeep Kaur of Milpitas, it was an unforgettable moment to be out there.

“Being able to play on the same court as my inspirations means a lot,” she said.

The five-minute scrimmage right before players from the Warriors and Grizzlies hit the floor included some dazzling shots and a buzzer-beater as well.

Members of the two teams remained close by as they eventually stood in front of their inspirations during the National Anthem.

Additionally, right after halftime, they were greeted with high-fives from Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and among others coming out of the tunnel.

“It’s great to be part of something like this,” Singh said.

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