The wait for Cleveland is over, the King has returned from the NBA Finals with a championship trophy. Cleveland had not seen a championship trophy in over 50 years, but when LeBron James came out of high school and went straight to the NBA the same year that the Cavaliers won the NBA draft lottery, things were supposed to change. LeBron was the kid from Akron who would save Cleveland and deliver the championship that the city desired and deserved. LeBron instantly made the Cavaliers championship contenders and led them all the way to the doorstep before the San Antonio Spurs turned them away. While LeBron languished and hoped for a few more superstars to share the burden with, the Cavaliers surrounded him with Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison. LeBron would leave Cleveland before winning a championship and would go on to win two with the Miami Heat.
The Shot, The Fumble, The Drive, The Decision, all of these things convinced sports fans in Cleveland that they were forever doomed in the sports world. When LeBron became a free-agent again after his contract in Miami concluded, Cleveland fans did not dare get their hopes up that the King could return, even amid the swirling rumors. One Sports Illustrated article later and LeBron was “Coming Home”. Things had changed in Cleveland since LeBron’s departure; they had two number one overall picks in Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson who had learned to lead the team to a .500 record but were crucially missing that last piece of the puzzle. LeBron is the missing piece to pretty much every puzzle, and his return concluded with another trip to the NBA Finals. Standing in their way ended up being the team that would put together the greatest regular season in history the following year, the team with the 2015 MVP Steph Curry. The Warriors would win that best of seven series in six games and Cleveland fans once again succumbed to the idea that their city would never win a championship.
The 2016 Finals arrived and the Cavaliers were faced with a familiar opponent, the greatest regular season team of all time, and the 2016 unanimous MVP Steph Curry. This Golden State Warriors team had gone 73-9 in the regular season and had just won three straight elimination games against the Oklahoma City Thunder. When Golden State won three of the first four games, heartbreak again seemed inevitable for the city of Cleveland. At least until LeBron put the whole city on his back and carried them past the Golden State Warriors and into the history books as the first team to ever come back from a 3-1 finals deficit and win. LeBron would average 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 8.9 assists, 2.6 steals and 2.3 blocks per game, leading both teams in every major statistical category. In the critical games five and six, LeBron scored 41 points each game and coupled with Kyrie Irving to ensure that there would be a game seven.
Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while and when I predicted the Cavaliers would win in seven games I did not expect that the series would go this way. Golden State may not be the greatest team of all time, like many expected they would be, but LeBron just may be the greatest player of all time. Sorry Chicago.