It took 52 years but Cleveland did it. There were doubters from the time he returned to his hometown and personally made it his responsibility to bring Cleveland a championship. There were those who felt he could only succeed when the odds were stacked in his favor.
LeBron James completed one of the fairytale stories in NBA history and delivered on his promise to bring a championship to Cleveland as the Cavs pulled off the improbable and defeated Golden State 93-89 in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals.
The NBA’s G.O.A.T. has surely had his moments, but through all of the turmoil and doubts and pressure, King James was able to turn Ohio into a state of champions and a completed mission of that magnitude can't be understated.
James took a sports town that was used to coming up short in moments like this, and he erased the memory of Ernest Byner's fumble and Craig Ehlo's shortcummings and gave a rotten sports town a ripe, fresh victory fruit to build upon for the future. The stench of Cleveland's failures, were erased by a mythical basketball entity who turned a respectable dynasty in the making into the biggest choke artists in sports history, with a collapse that rivals that of the 2004 Yankees.
The open wound is now healed.
The four years James was in Miami, Cleveland had the worst record in the NBA during that span. People burned No. 23 jerseys and the owner Dan Gilbert cursed his name. Despite all of that, LBJ came back home after winning two chip in Miami and he delivered. As Wu Tang once said: “Don’t talk the talk if you can’t walk the walk.“
So many unexpected things went down.
Kyrie Irving outplayed the two time MVP Steph Curry. The negative narrative tried to wrap him in a choke hold but his true champion pedigree shined through. When a guy like LeBron joins forces with two other power players and it appears as if he’s stacking the odds in his favor, it's hard to appreciate the journey. But Cleveland truly earned this championship, despite the suspension to Green which shifted the series momentum like a hurricane wind pushing a salboat in an unintended direction.
No team had ever come back from 3-1 in the Finals and when Golden State held that advantage, there were Cavs obituaries on deck in every NBA household.
Kevin Love, who struggled to find his game at times in "The LeBron System" and was rumored to be out via a trade for the past two seasons, finally has some hardware to take with him wherever he may go. He can say his Cleveland experiment netted him hella money and a once in a lifetime championship opportunity.
Coach Tyronn Lue gets an NBA championship in his abbreviated rookie coaching season. You've got to give the coach credit for giving management exactly what they wanted after firing David Blatt. Lue naturally spoke highly of Lebron who garnered his third Finals MVP award:
“Outside of his basketball talent...the biggest reason he deserves this is because he has a great heart, " said Lue about his three-time NBA championship leader. "It''s not just about basketball, it's him as a person and good things happen to good people."
To get the opportunity to become the most hated man in a town and then regain the support as the most beloved is a once in a lifetime accomplishment.
It’s tough for a person who is not fan of Lebron James to give him his due. However, going to South Beach and winning two chips and then returning back to Ohio because he truly was guilty for leaving the state high and dry in the first place, and ending the 52-year drought for championships in the city, is gully.
LeBron James has once and for all silenced the critics. He finished them off with another triple double.
“When I came I had a goal to bring a championship to this city, " James said. "I put my heart, my soul, my sweat my tears into this game and against all odds...I don't know why the man above has given me the hardest road and I just kept that same positive attitude...this is special."
In winning the championship, LBJ not only transformed the identity of Ohio sports, but he made legitimate champs out of guys like JR Smith, who had been criticized and labeled as career losers.
There will be fans who never fully appreciate the greatness of a LeBron James, but this championship is the one that protects him from the lunatics who claim he isn’t one of the most dominating bosses in the history of the game.