Mission accomplished: LeBron transforms Cleveland into a winner

When the improbable, seemingly impossible, was done, whenCleveland’s championship was, at long, long last, won, LeBron James simply went to his knees and wept. There was nothing else to do.

Wept for the accomplishment, his Cleveland Cavaliers defeating the Golden State Warriors here Sunday, 93-89 in Game 7 to become the first team in NBA history to come back from a 3-1 Finals deficit. Wept for the performance, 27 more points, 11 more assists and 11 more rebounds to cap a three-game stretch (averaging 36.3 points, 11.6 rebounds, 9.7 assists while facing elimination) as great as any player, ever.

Wept, too, because of Cleveland, because of Akron, because of The Decision and because of The Return, because of the Drive, the Fumble, the Shot, because of Jose Mesa and Rocky Colavito, because the people and places back home made this bigger than him, bigger than a single team, bigger than it even should be, a basketball game understandably meaning so much to so many.

“Just knowing what our city has been through, Northeast Ohio has been through,” James said. “You could go back to the Earnest Byner fumble, [John] Elway going 99 yards …”

So many fans stuffed downtown Cleveland on Sunday to watch the game on outdoor televisions and street-side bars that clogged the whole joint up. The highway patrol eventually had to shut down the highway entrances into town. They had come because they believed that 52 years of losing in every sport in every imaginable way, might now, for once, end.

“Our fans, they ride or die,” James continued. “For us to be able to end this, end this drought, our fans deserve it. They deserve it. And it was for them.”

Spent physically, emotionally, mentally and historically, LeBron James wept because somehow, someway he led the Cavs through a pressure cooker here, fraught with tight nerves and tense moments, including a final quarter in the crucible, where the best basketball players in the world kept melting in the moment.

A little less than a week ago the Cavs came here for Game 5 with everyone expecting them to get closed out. Parade route planned, legacies written. Instead James started an epic run. He played nearly every minute of every game, point guard on offense, center on defense, delivering baskets and rebounds and passes … and blocks .

 

 

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