LeBron James (Nick Koza/Photo for Call & Post)
Four days after the Cleveland Cavaliers were swept into an off-season of uncertainty by the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, it almost appeared they had never played for a championship in 2018 after all.
Its most famous employee and the greatest player this generation was the subject of frenzied feeds on social media platforms and global ridicule, all that remain from a hopeful albeit wishful Cavalier basketball season was obliterated by the bombs of Steph Curry and Kevin Durant’s unstoppable efficiency.
The pundits who had forecast such a dire fate for LeBron James and the City of Cleveland were vindicated by the mental blunders of JR Smith, the clanking misses from George Hill, Jeff Green and the predictable inconsistent performance of Kevin Love.
Thus while the Warrior dynasty evaporated the Cavaliers like the mist from the opening of champagne bottles in the Quicken Loans Arena visiting locker room, they also widened the gulf between them and the rest of the NBA.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said it best. “We just had more talent than they did.”
The evidence was crystal clear that beside LeBron, the Cavs had little if any talent at all, especially the caliber that one could hope for an NBA Finals run. In hindsight it was miraculous the Cavs survived the Indiana Pacers, swept the Toronto Raptors, and survived the Boston Celtics without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Heyward.
However, they did and it was primarily because of LeBron’s buzzer beating heroics, sustained durability and the gifts of his God given talent that may not be around after this season.
Fox Sports Skip Bayless an avid LeBron hater and ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith a just as dubious a LeBron antagonist had a field day with LeBron’s defeat to the Warriors.
Never mind that he has appeared in 8 consecutive NBA Finals, 9 in his illustrious 15-year career. Never mind that every time he scores a point or makes an assist he glides into the most elite of categories in the history of the league.
Never mind that LeBron revealed that he played the last 3 games of the series with a broken right hand. So, pissed after losing Game 1 in the fashion it unfolded, LeBron says he took his frustration out on a wall and broke it.
That explained the nosedive of his performance in the three games there after, but does not explain how the most magnified player in this league could have prevented anyone from learning of the injury.
Stephen A-hole accused the Cavaliers of outright quitting in game 4, an accusation on the surface of it diminishes their opponent while at the same time questioned the heart and soul of the men wearing Cavalier uniforms.
There is no stronger allegation against a team or athlete in suggesting they quit.
Did the Cavs quit? Or did the Golden State Warriors make them quit?
Of course everyone with a platform knows what LeBron will do next. He’s going to the Houston Rockets with his banana boat pal Chris Paul. Or he’s going to the Lakers and taking Paul George or perhaps Kevin Durant with him. Oh, that’s right he’s going to the San Antonio Spurs to play for Pop. My, bad he’s going to the Sixers or was it the Celtics?
For sure he’s leaving the Cavaliers, right?
This final chapter of the LeBron James odyssey may not have as much to do with basketball as people think.
Although he confessed he is still in championship mode, he alluded to the fact that his family and especially his kids are going to be central in decision.
Where does he want to raise them? Then ask yourself, even if you are a native of Northeast Ohio, if you had all the money in the world would you live here?
That is the best clue you are going to get.
LeBron James is at his pinnacle and closer to the end than ever before. His body had logged more minutes than any other player in the league. His mind is as sharp as it’s ever been, but not even his mental state could manipulate his physical acumen.
So, as we close the book on what was a most memorable run with The King, it is likely over. Everything comes to an end at some point and this storybook episode of Cleveland sports history is worth relishing.
After all it took some 50 years for 2016 to happen, and it took your native son to be responsible for it. Thank him and appreciate him for providing you with more than hope, establishing such optimism that in Cleveland ‘We Can’, ‘We Will’, ‘We Did’ and no one can ever take that away from you.