Falling is never fun. Falling after a jump, even less fun. Falling from a jump when you’re also 6’8 and 250 pounds is likely not a good feeling, especially when you land directly on your dominant wrist.
Now take that pain, and shut up about it, because it’s game 7 of the NBA finals, and you have 2 free throws to determine if you’re the best basketball player in history or not.
Okay cool, you missed the first one. Now you have literally one shot to decide your legacy, and the entire city of Cleveland, that city that raised you, the city you love, the city that’s been deprived of any taste of success for 5 decades and some change is watching to see if you can fix that. Roughly all 400,000 of Cleveland’s citizens are watching to see if you truly are the chosen one, a title you were given in high school.
High School Junior. That was about 15 years ago. Before you were somehow drafted by your hometown team, and then you managed to become the most dominant player in NBA history to never win a championship because of how hilariously incompetent your teammates were. Larry Hughes and Damon Jones started alongside you in the most lopsided loss in NBA Finals history. It was JJ Hickson and nearly forty year old Shaquille O’Neal in 2009. That would be enough to drive anyone to insanity, and you were no different. You made a decision for your legacy, and went to Miami for 2 rings in 4 years with your friends. In those four years, the Cavs, your hometown team stumbled and comic sansed into future Cleveland hero Kyrie Irving, as well as Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters, who eventually turned into JR Smith, as well as Iman Shumpert. And then, because love is stupid and has no logic to it, you came back, bringing 3(!!!) time NBA champion James Jones, tall person Timofey Mozgov, and Australian party animal Matthew Delleveadova with you, as you tried to create a team worthy of bringing Cleveland a championship. Oh and also 3 time NBA all star Kevin Love. You know it wouldn’t be easy, and you knew that staying in Miami would have been. But that wasn’t what mattered. You had your rings, and Cleveland didn’t, and you wanted to change that. Fast forward to the 2015 NBA finals and you’re singlehandedly leading the Cavs to a 2-1 series lead over the Golden State Warriors. Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving are both injured, and you’re right back where you were in 2007. You watch as a pack of three point shooting cornballs celebrate on your home court. Would you have won with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving? Probably not, you were still missing a few pieces, and you knew that better than anyone. So along comes the 2015 2016 NBA season, your thirteenth in the league that expects nothing but perfection from you, but still doesn’t reward you when you give it. With the new season, come new players, most notably Richard Jefferson (he’ll be important later, I promise), and Channing Frye. With these newcomers, an old, hairy face leaves, he’ll be important later too. You watch as the best shooter of all time tears through the most unbreakable record in sports and wins the first ever unanimous MVP. You’ve never done that. Jordan never did that. You and Jordan also have shoes that people like though, so take that as a little victory over the man who hit more three pointers in one season than most players do in an entire career. You hear Warriors fans plan out this years celebration as they drop a game to a .500 team in the first round, while you brutally murder the entirety of the Eastern Conference. Whatever, right? Just fuel the fire. Then, sports happen, as you dismantle the Toronto Raptors, the Warriors trail the Thunder 3-1. You might not even get to play the team that danced on your home floor last season, and more importantly, the team that proceeded to trash you, and the city you love, for the entirety of the off season (@Draymond). Off course they come back, completing an incredible 3 game run to claw their way into the NBA finals. 3-1 leads are notorious for being difficult to choke away, and the thunder did just that. What an utter failure on their part that I’m sure will never be matched, especially not on a much more important stage. Oh shoot, the Warriors have a 3-1 lead over the best player in the NBA and his friends who are also pretty good at basketball. We should probably start planning the Warriors parade.
There’s no way that this could ever backfire, we all know how much you love being taunted, lets call you a baby on twitter, and say that you just got your feelings hurt by Draymond Green punching him in the genitals and calling you a bitch on national television. The former got the former spartan, current warrior, and future car salesman a one game suspension, and a lot of think pieces written about him. This controversial decision also got you and your pack of misfits a few more days of not feeling the shame of losing to the corniest team in NBA history on their home court for the second straight year, except this time with all of your players. Game 6 comes around and you steal another one from the gang of demigods that make up the Golden State Warriors. But now you have to go to a game 7, and Cleveland is cursed, so there’s no way you’ll pull that off against literally the best team of all time. In typical Cleveland fashion, you kept the game within four points, for the WHOLE GAME. You really din’t need to do that, but whatever, we forgive you. The game was closest for the last five minutes or so, when the NBA decided to rig the Warriors hoop to no longer accept the basketball, right Ayesha? Then, just when that was about to change, and Andre Igoudala was breaking away towards a wide open layup, you decided to exceed all of those ridiculous expectations for one glorious, impossible block that will surely be remembered by Cleveland for the rest of time or until our river catches on fire again and burns down the city.
That’s iconic, but the game still isn’t over. You still have to find a way to take the lead on a team that really doesn’t want you to have it. Enter Kyrie Irving, current Cleveland hero, the kid from Duke that played 9 games in his entire college career and still went first to the charred corpse of the Cleveland Cavaliers. The kid that many people think John Wall is better than. Hint: he isn’t. There might be two other point guards in the NBA are, but that’s a different conversation. The point is, Kyrie Irving is good, and hit the most important shot in Cleveland basketball history.
Pretty good, right? Well now you have 53 seconds to shut down the most potent offense in the NBA, and bring home a championship to the city that hasn’t gotten one in 52 years. Oh. You did it. Well, kinda. Kevin Love did it, but whatever, he owed you. Anyway, now there’s 10 seconds left, you probably broke your wrist, and you’ve got one free throw left to win the NBA finals. No pressure. And you do it, because you’re secretly a robot. The final(s) seconds tick off, and you fall to the floor, tears in your eyes, likely due to a combination of happiness, shock, and pain because that wrist thing probably still hurts but you’re Lebron so whatever. Sometimes sports are poetic. Not always, but sometimes. Like when a third string quarterback (also from Cleveland) beats a pathetic badger, an evil elephant, and a snappily dressed duck to death with a barrage of deep balls in a three game run widely accepted by Ohioans as an act of god. Championships in Ohio seem to require three game runs. This run took more though, this run took 52 years of waiting, and the greatest player in the history of the NBA. That’s cemented. This run cemented that. Lebron doesn’t need 6 rings. At least not in the eyes of his people, the people in the city he’s spent his whole life in, save for 4 long years. The king has reclaimed his throne, and will not be unseated again.