|Almost 1 Million at the Cavaliers Parade|
(Lynn Ischay / The Plain Dealer)
They did it with an amazing comeback. They beat the Golden State Warriors who, arguably, had the greatest season in NBA history. They won 73 games and lost 9 giving the greatest number of wins and winning percentage ever. They redefined the game around the three point shot and were the class of the league all season long. They easily made it to the finals, as did the Cavaliers. The Warriors jumped to a 3 - 1 lead over Cleveland making their record 76 and 10. No NBA team had ever come back from being down 3 - 1 in the NBA playoff finals. The Cavaliers did just that.
They did it on the back of their superstar LeBron James. They did it as a team. They learned how to defend the Warriors most impressive offense and took the title for themselves. It was a cap to a great season for the Cavaliers and the NBA. It was, in my view, a great season for the Warriors too, but I am sure they or their fans do not see it that way just now.
It matters not if one likes LeBron James or not. Many think he was no good when he bolted from Cleveland for Miami 2010. He would have eventually won a championship back then, but he wanted to create his own team and he was offered a lot of money to go to Miami. Fan sentiment aside, most anyone would act in their own self-interest in the same circumstance. Professional athletes never know how long their careers will last and have to make the money while they can.
People can argue forever if LeBron James is the greatest player ever. Is he better than Jordan, Abdul-Jabbar, Magic, Russel, Bird, O'Neal, Chamberlain, Robertson, or others. Such discussion are great pastimes for fans and commentators but there is rarely consensus especially across generations. Me? I think he is one of the greatest. I have seen him do amazing things on the court. He is 6'8" and over 250 lbs. Yet, he moves like a point guard. He is falling down and has such a great touch that he makes unbelievable baskets. He is fast, athletic, and can totally dominate. I recall a game where he was at the top of the key, took a pass, and, I swear, boom took one explosive step and leapt right over some hapless defender to dunk the ball. One step for the top of the key! It was totally amazing.
But this championship is not about LeBron. Sure, he is central to the story but it is about Cleveland and bringing some joy to a good, old, midwestern sports town that really needed this. Citizens and fans were crying on TV, giving wonderful testimonials, and enjoying the moment. As much as I had wanted the Warriors to cap off their incredible season with a championship, I really was for Cleveland. It was truly for the city and fans in my view.
And, it may only be a moment. There are rumors float about the internet that with his two year contract up, LeBron, may move on to another team. The Lakers? The Celtics? He might even take his show to the Big Apple. Or he may stay in Cleveland. He and Cleveland are however enjoying this moment as well they should.
If LeBron does leave, Cleveland fans will be using the Rob Schneider quote from the 1998 movie, The Waterboy: "Oh no, we suck again!"