LeBron James has fulfilled his promise.
Two years ago, James left the Miami heat with the intention of delivering the Cleveland Cavaliers and Northeast Ohio an NBA title. And James did just that on Sunday, leading the Cavaliers to a 93–89 victory to clinch the NBA Finals, a massive upset over the only 73-win team in NBA history.
James, again, was sublime, scoring 27 points to go along with 11 rebounds and 11 assists. His triple double was the first in a Finals Game 7 since James Worthy in 1988. However, It was James’s sidekick Kyrie Irving who hit the biggest shot of the game, nailing a three pointer over Stephen Curry with just under a minute to go to give Cleveland the lead for good.
Curry, like he did for much of the Finals, struggled. He made shockingly lazy passes at inopportune times. He took threes off the dribble that looked more like guesses than shots. And he failed to rise to the level of James, the man many thought Curry had surpassed the last two seasons. Klay Thompson also struggled, shooting poorly from the field and continuing to muck up fast breaks for seemingly no reason.
Draymond Green nearly won Game 7 for Golden State by himself, hitting six threes en route to scoring 32 points and nearly posting a triple double himself. But Green couldn’t keep up his production in the second half, and his performance ultimately meant nothing when his teammates couldn’t step up.
Steve Kerr deserves some of the blame for Golden State’s loss after he curiously played Festus Ezeli and Anderson Varejao for too many minutes, perhaps preventing the Warriors an opportunity to pull away.
But Sunday was all about James, who for the second time, had his decision validated. That was the theme of the night for Cleveland: Validation. Validation for Tyronn Lue, who took over for David Blatt mid-season amid a storm of controversy. Validation for Irving, who many thought was too ball dominant to ever be a good sidekick for James. Validation for Kevin Love, who made sure the blame for a Game 7 loss wouldn’t land on his shoulders.
For the Warriors, it’s nothing short of a collapse of epic proportions. Golden State looked like a team of destiny all year long, but James’s singular talents served as the ultimate equalizer.
And thanks to James, in one night, Cleveland has gone from a city synonymous with heartbreak, to a city of champions.