For the first time since 1967, the city of Cleveland has a championship, and it is one of the most monumental championships in the history of sports.
While the series as a whole wasn’t great (only one game was decided by less than 10 points), but game seven was a classic and the story lines surrounding this series make this a Finals that won’t soon be forgotten.
First of all, this series proves that LeBron still owns the NBA, and, quite frankly, he never lost it. Steph Curry may have the last two MVP’s, but LBJ is still the single greatest force in basketball and has made the last six NBA Finals. Last year, while he didn’t win a ring, he was a one man team and put on a Herculean showing in all six games. This year, with a full cast of characters, LeBron led the way to win a unanimous Finals MVP, the first one in league history. He was clutch time in time again on both ends of the court. He managed to get into the heads of the Warriors, especially Stephen Curry and Draymond Green.
LeBron led his Cavaliers back from a 3-1 series lead, something that has never been done in NBA history. In the series, James averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists, 2.6 steals and 2.3 blocks per game, including a clutch chasedown block on Andre Iguodala with under two minutes left with the game tied at 89. But the big question remains, what does this mean for James’ legacy?
No matter what he does from here on out, this will be the championship that defines his career. While he may be 3-4 in his Finals career, he was all alone in his efforts in two of those Finals. The process of leaving then coming back to Cleveland, losing to Golden State, getting back to the Finals, coming back from a 3-1 deficit and bringing a championship to Cleveland has made him immortal. In the final three games of this series, LeBron had back-to-back 41 point games and a triple-double. Two of those outings occurred in Oracle Arena, a place where Golden State had only lost three times all season long. His greatness is only surpassed by Michael Jordan. This win puts him above Kobe, Larry Bird, Magic and other NBA legends.
He’s done what none of those guys have in coming back from 3-1. LeBron was hands down the best player on his team in each of his championships, something Kobe can’t say. Bird and Magic needed a Big Three to get their rings, and while Kevin Love was supposedly the third fiddle behind Kyrie and LeBron, he was terrible in this series.
Speaking of terrible, Steph Curry downright horrible in this series. He was outplayed by Kyrie Irving, and it wasn’t even close. Not to mention Kyrie buried the series winning three over Steph. Kyrie has officially climbed the ladder to an elite point guard, if he wasn’t there already. He was able to take advantage of bigs on switches, blow by Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala and finished in traffic numerous times and hit 40% of his threes. In the series, Kyrie outscored Steph by five points per game and forced countless Curry turnovers.
Curry averaged 4.3 turnovers and 3.7 assists in the Finals. He’s. Not. Clutch. Curry didn’t show up in Game 7, when he put the pressure on himself to play “the best game of my career.” When his team needed him most, Curry went 6/19 from the floor, 4/14 from three, only had two assists, four fouls and four turnovers and only had three points in the fourth quarter on one of his classic Hail Mary type threes. Guess what Steph, you blew it. Now can we finally stop pretending this guy is untouchable?
He was exposed in every game in this series on both sides of the ball. He realistically only had one outstanding game in this series, which was game four. Curry can’t defend, tries to be too fancy, is turnover prone and is a one dimensional scorer. Not to mention, I don’t think he’s a good leader. He broke down and lost his composure in game six after fouling out, granted, some of those foul calls were iffy. But there is still no excuse for throwing your mouth guard.
Moving on to the Warriors as a whole, the whole 73 wins means absolutely nothing. Even with a win in game seven, the notion that this is the greatest team ever would be in question. The ’96 Bulls will forever be the greatest team in history with the greatest player in NBA history. While it’s fun to play hypotheticals, we will never know who would win a seven game series between these Warriors and all-time great teams like the of the 90’s Bulls, Lakers and Celtics of the 80’s, the Lakers of the early 2000’s, we’ll never know. But Scottie Pippen wore it best, “It Don’t Mean A Thing Without A Ring.”
Congrats to LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the city of Cleveland, you guys deserve it. As for the Warriors, good run, but nobody remembers who lost in the NBA Finals.
Cover Photo via CavsNation