It was just a week and a half ago.
The Golden State Warriors took a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers after winning Game 4 108-97 in Cleveland. The series seemed as if it was over as media outlets such as ESPN and Bleacher Report began to tear down the legacy of LeBron James as they began to swiftly and quickly build up Steph Curry, the NBA’s first unanimous MVP.
The streets grew cold. Quiet. The doubt had certainly set in among Cleveland sports fans around the league as they couldn’t eliminate voices from the likes of Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith who repeatedly pointed out the Cavaliers’ trust issues and crediting the Warriors for being the best team of all-time.
The King is no longer The King. That would be Steph Curry.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) June 11, 2016
The Warriors had one game to win. The Cavaliers had three. This is when the series took the turn.
Whether you believe it was Klay Thompson saying LeBron “got his feelings hurt” or the media, once again, beating down a wounded LeBron James, the accumulation of doubt did something that many thought was impossible.
The biting. Scratching. Prancing. Knit-picking. Nibbling. Laughing. It did what one city, a city that has been thirsty for 52 years desperately needed, wanted and craved.
It woke the beast.
41 points, 16 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals, 3 blocks and only 5 minutes of rest.
41 points, 8 rebounds, 11 assists, 4 steals, 3 blocks and only 5 minutes of rest.
LeBron James became a true warrior. No doubt. No fear. No excuses.
He isn’t playing for himself. He isn’t playing for his teammates. He isn’t playing for his coach. He isn’t playing for basketball. He’s playing for Cleveland.
For over a decade they have needed LeBron James, rightfully so.
However, for the first time in LeBron James’ career… he needs you.
Cleveland, this is a historic NBA Finals Game 7. This doesn’t happen, and absolutely wasn’t supposed to happen in this series as the Cavaliers seemed all but eliminated just days ago. The opportunity to become the first team in NBA history to rally back from a 3-1 series deficit, let alone against a Golden State Warriors team who beat Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls’ single-season record this season, is more than basketball.
This is arguably the greatest comeback in sports history.
So don’t take this moment for granted. This is a game in which grandparents all around the city have waited for, and, unfortunately, some didn’t have the lifespan to witness the all-too-glorified Cleveland sports Championship that we may witness this evening.
The chills have been present for myself since the Game 6 victory last Thursday evening, but today is just different.
Today, Cleveland, is our day. This is our time. This is our year.
So to LeBron, Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith, Kevin Love, Richard Jefferson, Tristan Thompson, Timofey Mozgov, Mo Williams, Matthew Dellavedova, Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye, James Jones, Dahntay Jones, Ty Lue and anyone else in the Cavaliers organization that made this day possible, the city of Cleveland would like to say THANK YOU.
Now let’s go get Cleveland a Championship.
*Que “Never Forget Me” by Bone Thugs-n-Harmony
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Matt Stevenson