With the Game 7 victory over Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are NBA champions.
The clinching win over the Warriors gave LeBron his third career championship — his first as a member of the Cavaliers. For Cleveland, this win ends 52 years without a professional sports championship. For LeBron, it is the return on a promise he made two years ago.
When LeBron came back to Cleveland, he made the team and the city a promise. He promised he would end Cleveland’s historic losing streak. In the Oracle Arena on Sunday night, those promises were fulfilled.
For Cleveland, this series win was improbable from the start. The Warriors came into the series having gone 73-9 for the winningest regular season in NBA history, starred the unanimous MVP in Curry and just took out the Oklahoma City Thunder in seven thrilling games.
All of this before the Cavaliers waded into uncharted waters. They were down 3-1 in the best of seven series against the Warriors, a deficit no team has ever overcome.
So what did Cleveland, and more specifically LeBron, do? The team went big, and LeBron went superhuman. Over the final three games, The King scored 109 points, picked up 35 rebounds and dished out 29 assists.
This dominance became two triple-doubles and three wins, two of which were on the Warriors home court. This isn’t just about The King though.
Fans were hoping for Game 7 to be one to remember, and they were not disappointed. The two biggest plays of the game came from LeBron and star point guard Kyrie Irving.
With the game tied at 89 a piece with just over two minutes left, Andre Iguodala attempted a layup before LeBron came over the top and swatted the ball away with impressive force.
Then, Irving hit his own version of “The Shot.” With the shot clock ticking down and 59 seconds left in the still tied game, Irving nailed the game-winning 3-pointer right over Curry.
This is the first championship for Irving. He was the first pick by the Cavaliers after LeBron left Cleveland to play for the Miami Heat. He was the face of the franchise for the four years LeBron was playing in South Beach.
Then there was Kevin Love, who was one of the best players in Minnesota Timberwolves history before the team decided to send him to Cleveland. Next was a pair of Knicks castoffs in defensive stopper Iman Shumpert and sharpshooter JR Smith.
Then there’s 15-year veteran Richard Jefferson, who, while covered in celebratory champagne, announced he was retiring after winning his first title. From top to bottom, this was a Cavaliers team that earned this victory.
Every player on the roster was at a point where they deserved to call themselves champions. And for the Warriors? They’re no better than the 2007 New England Patriots or the 2001 Seattle Mariners. Great seasons, but no rings to show for it.