“CLEVELAND = CHAMPIONS”
The curse is over. The spell is broken. The drought has ended.
It has been rare, perhaps never, that Cleveland is the happiest city in America. Monday morning, it is just that. We are the champions. In the most storybook ending possible to the fifty-two year quest, the Cleveland Cavaliers are your NBA champions.
While “All In” has been an apt team slogan, we may have to reconsider “Never Surrender” as our new battle cry. We faced the 73-9 record setting Golden State Warriors and never blinked. We were down 3-1 in the series and were told it was over. If you turned on any, and I mean any, national sports coverage, they were already piling dirt on our team’s grave and measuring Curry’s ring size. To win, we were told we would have to do the impossible, what has never been done before, and the Cavaliers have. Closing out the series with a dominant triple-double performance, LeBron James proved to all why he is the true King of the Land and uncontested unanimous Finals MVP.
It would seems James’s personal mantra throughout the postseason was “damn the haters”. After losing out to season MVP to Steph Curry, there were doubters questioning James’s place in the echelon of NBA greats, even a few foolish enough to speculate replacing him with Curry. It’s one thing to beat him on the court, it’s quite another to challenge his legend. This series was about getting the ring, but more than that, this was personal for LeBron. There is no fault in saying he has a considerable ego, all the greats do. James decided around game 5 that his goal was not only to win, but to dismantle Steph Curry, both in body and mind, and to prove there would be no false usurper king tainting his kingdom. With the chase down block on Curry in game six, capped with the King’s sneering “not in my house”, James summarily vanquished his foe.
Like two great armies amassing on the battlefield, Warriors and Cavaliers clashed and gave all they had. Kyrie Irving proved himself the trusted ride-or-die Lancelot to LeBron James’s King Arthur, after delivering the three-point dagger to win in the last seconds of game 7. Even the prodigal knight, Ser Kevin of Love, was present, dominating the boards with fourteen critical rebounds. J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson and Iman Shumpert played big minutes. Class act, Richard Jefferson closed out an illustrious career, making his retirement announcement amid a shower of champagne and celebration.
Hours following the city’s singular explosion of joy the second the clock reached 00:00, thousands of the King’s loyal subjects surrounded the tarmac as the plane touched down at Hopkins. Returning to their kingdom, the royal Cavaliers held high their spoils from the battlefield, the coveted Larry O’Brien trophy. The “Ultimate Warrior” shirt LeBron sported did not go unnoticed as he held the trophy high while taking his victory lap for the fans on hand.
A boy from Akron is now the King in the Land. Like any hero of myth, LeBron had to first face failure. He had to surmount his own self doubt and the exile of South Beach to become a stronger, more mature competitor before returning to his homeland. The path forward was not an easy one, at times it looked impossible, but he never gave up. The team behind him never gave up. We, the fans never gave up. LeBron James has put a city on his shoulders and carried us all into greatness with him. Now, we are all champions.
While the names will never be forgotten, while jerseys will hang from the rafters, while the trophies will be admired behind glass, perhaps the best gift given to the Land is the faith in the impossible. Kids for generations can look back to the 2015-2016 Cleveland Cavaliers as inspiration to never give up, no matter who says it’s impossible, no matter what the odds are. Thanks to LeBron James we can all believe that anything is possible.
Long live the King…