The Quest for History! Nobody said it was going to be easy…
The pain is mentally excruciating. There were some Cavs who just outright refused to watch game 5 of the NBA Finals with their beloved team fate on the line.
After the Cavs baited and teased their hometown fans, starved of a championship for 52 years in the city, the legions of pessimistically-optimistically Wine and Gold die hards feared that the worst would inevitably of defeat would soon beckon.
After all, no team in the storied history of the NBA has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals and after that game 4 meltdown, surely game 5 would close the casket on yet another heartbreaking season.
However, the Warriors heart and soul, lip and clip-Draymond Green was suspended for game 5 after drawing a flagrant 1 against Cavs star LeBron James.
Then of course James, the proud face of the NBA was being castigated for the suspension, some even claiming the NBA did it to stretch the series out for revenue purposes.
Although Green only measured up to a half point on the spread with the Warriors still favored by 6 points to win their second consecutive title and send the Cavs packing.
Game 5 was a test of more than just wills and basketball skills, it was arguably a challenge to the legacy of James and budding star Kyrie Irving.
One could throw Kevin Love into the mix as well but the jury had already come to a conclusion on his ability after watching a string of inconsistent performances during the first three games.
The only game the Cavs had won was with him not even in the arena.
So, as coach Tyronn Lue’s team boarded the plane for Oakland and told his players, “Don’t get on the plane if you don’t think we can win,” the message was clear, and while all of the players heard it, two responded with a vengeance.
Facing elimination and James fifth career loss in the Finals, James delivered a performance for the ages with 41 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists and three blocked shots in the Cavaliers' 112-97 victory that pushed the series back to Cleveland.
It was an emphatic response to three days' worth of controversy. And as chaotic as it seemed from the outside, the 31-year-old James soaked it all in with the perspective born from 13 years in the pressure cooker.
"I guess when you're with the game of basketball and big moments like tonight and moments throughout your career, you wish you could get back," James said. "No matter how loud you turn the stereo system up in your house, you'll never be able to get it back. You just don't take these moments for granted, no matter if you're at home or on the road."
Mychal Thompson the father of Klay Thompson and Ayesha Curry, the wife of Steph Curry mocked him.
Reserve center Marreese Speights called him a baby, and the Warriors fans booed him mercilessly every time he touched the ball on Monday night.
"My only motivation is how can I be there for my teammates and my coaching staff," James said. "That's it. I mean, at the end of the day, nothing else really matters."
It was an overpowering performance reminiscent of the 45 points and 15 rebounds he put up for Miami against Boston in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals in 2012. Only this time, James had a little more help.
Kyrie Irving was sensational, scoring 41 points on 17-for-24 shooting to give the Cavaliers the first pair of teammates to score at least 40 in the same game in NBA Finals history.
"It's probably one of the greatest performances I've ever seen live," James said of Irving, who had struggled with his efficiency through the first four games of the series. "To put on the show that he did, you just go out and follow the keys and play winning basketball, and we did that tonight."
Yeah, it all great, but the Cavs are still one game from elimination and two games from a championship.
Their fans want to celebrate, but can barely breathe.
Their team has been playing yo-yo with them during the whole season and now this.
It will all be worth it, if they can just become the first team in NBA history to rise from the depth of abyss to the climax of a much needed celebration for a city that wants it to happen, but doesn’t believe it.
The Associated Press contributed to this story