Lebron James Finally Fulfilled His Destiny & Made History While He Was At it
History was made in the battle that everyone hoped for but no one expected on Sunday night. Lebron James and the Cavaliers have officially delivered a Larry O'Brien trophy to Cleveland; and it was better than we ever could have imagined.
Make no mistake about it, the 2016 NBA Finals were an overall drag. A showdown between two of the best NBA players in a generation turned out to be a series of boring blowouts. Fourth quarters were largely meaningless, and the drama and intrigue of a legendary season for the Warriors was overshadowed by under-performance.
That is, until we reached Game 7.
An NBA superstar had the first triple-double in a Game 7 in 28 years. Another star had an incredible, badass three-pointer to win one of the closest finishes in NBA Championship history. And neither one of those players were named Steph Curry.
James joined James Worth and Jerry West (you might've heard of them) as the only three players in NBA history to record a triple-double in an NBA Finals Game 7. 27 points. 11 assists. 11 rebounds. 2 steals. 3 blocks. And you better believe it was every bit as amazing to watch as you'd think.
Oh and that three-pointer? That was Kyrie Irving. After two years of rumored struggles to make it work with Lebron, and being overlooked as Curry made his meteoric rise to superstardom, Kyrie seized the opportunity he's been dreaming about his entire life. 26 points. 6 rebounds. 1 assist. 1 steal. 1 block.
Then there's Kevin Love. Do you remember him? If you had forgotten then I don't blame you; but now you've definitely been reminded. Love's stat line isn't as impressive as his teammates, but his 14 rebounds should not be overlooked. Especially considering that he was matched up most of the game with Draymond Green, who led the game with 15 rebounds of his own, was easily the MVP of the game for the Warriors.
Not only was Draymond not the MVP, but he ended the game in the least likely fashion:
The Cavaliers became the first team in history to win an NBA Finals after going down 3-1 in the series. They are also the first team to win an NBA Finals Game 7 on the road since the Washington Bullets did it in 1978 when they took down the Seattle Supersonics.
Lebron James joined Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan as one four players to ever win three NBA Finals MVP Awards. The only player with more is Michael Jordan; with an insurmountable six Finals MVPs.
Essentially, Lebron and the Cavaliers did everything that any athlete or member of the media or teammate or coach or owner has ever asked of them. Lebron rallied back from being down. He showed up in the biggest, most crucial moments. He stared down the greatest regular season team in the history of basketball, and now he will leave their stadium and their city with their trophy. It couldn't have been scripted any better. In fact, if I hadn't watched it with my own two eyes then I might not believe it myself.
At the start of the series, I wrote a piece comparing Lebron James' woes to those of Peyton Manning. I called him out as talented front-runner who lacked fortitude, and I dared him to be a competitor that played with the fury of an underdog rather than the entitlement of a king. But if I'm being honest, I didn't believe he was capable of what he did on Sunday night. The world knows that Lebron is an incredible basketball player and a mythical athlete, but the legendary lengths that he and the Cavaliers had to go to in order to succeed the Warriors was more than I believed they were capable of.
I've never been happier to be so wrong.
Across the next few weeks, and then perhaps for a few decades after that, there will be a lot of think pieces, lengthy conversations and philosophical musings on the nature of what the 2016 NBA Finals MVP had to accomplish in order to bring his hometown their first Championship since 1964. But in the end, Lebron did exactly what he always said he'd do; and he did it on his terms.
Say what you will about Michael Jordan, but the only reason the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls still have the best season in the history of the NBA is because Lebron James made sure of it. How's that for irony?
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