If you watched and appreciated LeBron James while he played for the Cavaliers, you shouldn’t be surprised that he won this title. If the dude can drag Drew Gooden and Eric Snow to the NBA Finals, I’m pretty sure he can win a ring with two other All-Stars.
It just sucks it didn’t happen here. But I’m more disappointed than pissed. I wish he would have chosen to stay home and win it in a Cavalier uniform. I know why he left (can’t argue with teaming up with in-their-prime All-Star teammates and sunshine & beaches), but bringing a title to Northeast Ohio would’ve been so so special. The Cavs were inching closer and they would’ve broken through at some point. You could tell LeBron was going to figure it out eventually. He was too good not to.
The way LeBron left was inexcusable in my mind. The no-show against Boston (with the phantom elbow injury) followed by the middle finger to Cavs fans that was “The Decision,” was not a good look. He needlessly and selfishly added “taking my talents to South Beach” to the ‘Cleveland sports misery’ montage that ESPN fucking shows every time we might actually be enjoying a Cleveland playoff moment. I fault no one for holding that against him.
(But at the same time, I recognize that having the entire region of Northeast Ohio worship him since he was 17 years old might result in an inflated sense of self).
LeBron James earned this title. There’s no asterisk to this ring. And while I think the refs stunk, I don’t don’t think that they were the deciding factor in this series. The Thunder are young and I expect we’ll hear from Kevin Durant and company again.
That LeBron and the Heat lost to Dallas last season, coupled with the fact that the Cavs have Kyrie Irving (and a lot of options on draft day) certainly deadens this blow. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a punch to the gut, but at least James didn’t win a ring in his first post-Cleveland try. See, it’s not that easy. It wasn’t like Wade was getting 30, Bosh was getting 25 and LeBron was sitting back throwing assist after assist, letting Wade take all the clutch shots. James had to lead. He had to do the things we always wanted him to do (play hard every play, stop taking stupid shots, go in the post, etc).
LeBron dominated James Harden on the block. Dominated. As a basketball fan, I can’t help but tip my hat (and I also can’t help but wonder if and when Thunder GM Sam Presti calls Phil Jackson). Miami smelled it during Game 5. They knew they were close and they took it.
I’m not one to hold James to his “not six, not seven” prediction. As far as I know, he never repeated that prediction during a situation where he wasn’t speaking in front of thousands of screaming fans. But as far as dynasties go, I do wonder how long Miami’s window remains open. These Thunder will be back. Maybe Miami will strike gold with a Brandon Roy or Greg Oden signing. But Dwyane Wade is on the wrong side of 30, their cap situation is less than ideal and they don’t have draft picks (though I’m not exactly enamored with the other contenders in the East. Chicago is still a piece away).
By the same token, I never held Dan Gilbert to his stupid “Cavs will win a title before LeBron” heat-of-the-moment prediction either. It was a dumb thing to say and I really hope Gilbert handles LeBron’s Finals victory with class. He does a lot of good things as an owner, I’d rather not him be a national punch line.
It is my sincere wish that Miami’s win closes the book on the “LeBron vs Cleveland” era (though I know it won’t- I’m already bracing for the inevitable “could LeBron come back?!” 2014 rumors). The Decision is two years old and while LeBron won his title, he got his comeuppance first. He paid for his hubris. We’ve even, as far as I’m concerned. It’s time to move on. The Indians are in contention for the Central, the Browns have Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden and the Cavs have Kyrie Irving and the 4th pick in a loaded draft (less than a week!).
Things are looking up in the Cleveland sports world.