Last night was the culmination of one of the most memorable and historically substantial NBA Finals series we have ever seen as the two best players in the world dueled one last time in a winner-take-all Game 7 for the right to be called champion.
The Warriors would either lay claim to the greatest season in NBA history and forever insert themselves into the discussion of the greatest team in NBA history, with Steph Curry vaulting himself as back-to-back league MVP and NBA champion, or the Cavaliers would complete the greatest comeback in NBA history and LeBron would finally have his signature moment 13 years in the making.
After a series full of decisive results we finally got the nail-biting, heart-pounding finish we had been hoping for as the Cavaliers came back from a 49-42 halftime deficit to complete the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history, defeating the Golden State Warriors 93-89 to win their first ever NBA championship.
As the final seconds ticked off the clock it was clear that LeBron’s long, arduous, melodramatic and captivating life story and NBA journey had reached its feverish peak. The king finally had the signature moment that he had dreamt of since the day he was drafted by his hometown team on June 26, 2003. A moment that many, possibly even himself included, thought he may never have.
LeBron celebrated the moment by embracing the closest teammate he could find which ironically happened to be Kevin Love, a player who much like LeBron has dealt with a great deal of scrutiny over his performance the last few weeks. He was the player, hand picked by LeBron upon his return to Cleveland, to be the last piece to help vault the Cavaliers to a title. Love came through in Game 7 pulling down 14 rebounds and defending the league MVP on the most important defensive possession of the game.
You could feel the emotion pouring out of a man who had ascended to the peak of his profession once again and this time, in the place he felt, he was always meant to do it. A public exorcism in front of 20,000 in the arena and 20 million watching around the world of all of the emotion, adversity, heartache and strife that he had put himself and the people he holds so dearly through. The prodigal son who left and who had finally found his way back home to deliver on a promise he made to his people. A modern day version of one of the Bible’s greatest epics, the story of Moses, a man who deserted his people but never forgot his roots and returned home to free them from the shackles of oppression. LeBron had finally parted his red sea by defeating one of the greatest teams in NBA history and completing the greatest comeback in NBA history.
In a series full of drama and raw emotion and a script straight out of a Hollywood movie, it was only fitting that the two everlasting images of Game 7 involved LeBron with another trademark and heroic block, followed by LeBron stampeding through the lane to elevate and clinch the title with a thunderous dunk only to be denied and come crashing to the floor landing on the wrist that was brandished with an “I Promise” message, a microcosm for the for the journey that lead LeBron to this moment. A dream that included its doubts, tumbles and hard knocks but in spite of it all was never broken. LeBron got up as he had so many times before knowing that this was the final obstacle on his journey and sank the game-clinching free throw to all but guarantee a dream 13 years in the making.
After defeating and outplaying the unanimous regular season MVP in Steph Curry on the game’s biggest stage, LeBron was named the unanimous NBA Finals MVP and the first player to ever win the award and an NBA championship for his hometown team.
As a three-time champion, five time league MVP and three-time NBA Finals MVP, LeBron has ascended to even greater heights historically with his accomplishments and could very well add more hardware to his collection before he decides to exit stage left.
At the age of 31 and still in the midst of his prime there is still much to be written in the odyssey that is the career of LeBron James, but we were all just witnesses to this greatest chapter.