You can’t be mean to LeBron James — he ended Cleveland’s 52-year title drought

Posted: 06/20/2016 in basketball
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Well, I guess we can never dog LeBron James any more.

Was fun while it lasted.

Can’t do nothing but praise the man known as “King James” after the Cleveland Cavaliers became the first team in NBA history to recover from a 3-1 deficit to win the NBA Finals.

James and the Cavaliers won the city’s first major professional sports championship in 52 years with Sunday’s 93-89 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the rout-infested series.

James’ legacy had been questioned – particularly after Cleveland fell into the 3-1 hole – but a third world title in his career silences that debate.

If the Cavaliers had lost the series, James would’ve been 2-5 in seven NBA Finals appearances. And it would have been more than fair to question his ability to deliver a ring.

Remember, he won his first two titles with the Miami Heat when he had Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh as teammates. He was supposed to be part of a three-star circus in Cleveland too but Kevin Love has proven to be a terrible fit with James, leaving Kyrie Irving as the lone true other star on the squad.

James helped Cleveland stay alive with back-to-back 41-point performances and climaxed his strong series with the third Game 7 triple-double in NBA Finals’ history, joining Los Angeles Lakers icons’ Jerry West and James Worthy. James had 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists on Sunday.

He was the unanimous MVP of the series and I’m pretty sure he would have been named MVP even if Golden State had won.

Oh yeah, Golden State. Let’s discuss that team for a minute.

If Cleveland is the first team to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals, guess what that makes the Warriors?

Yep, the first team to blow a 3-1 series lead.

That takes a good amount of luster off their remarkable regular season in which they set a record with a 73-9 mark. But they lost the same number of games in the postseason and no longer possessed that look of a hard-to-beat team.

Golden State came close to not reaching the finals as the Oklahoma City Thunder held a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference finals before failing to close the deal.

Then the Warriors suffered three double-digit defeats to Cleveland before going scoreless over the final 4:38 in Game 7 and watching Irving drain the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 53 seconds left.

Draymond Green’s absence in Game 5 due to picking up too many flagrant fouls was a crusher. Then two-time MVP Stephen Curry suffered a Game 6 meltdown, displaying signs that the pressure was getting to him.

Talk about legacy? How the Warriors rebound next season will help determine a lot about how history looks at them.

Instead of being a two-time defending champion, Golden State will enter the next campaign with a ton of wins and just one banner.

As tough as the Western Conference is, it could be hard to get back. What if this band of Warriors win just one title?

“We understand, I think, when you look at the history of the league, how few teams repeated,” Curry said in the postgame press conference. “That was our goal, and we didn’t do it. It’s going to be a long three months over the summer thinking about it.

“But that doesn’t mean we can’t put this as another little unfortunate notch in the belt and move forward and come back stronger next year. That’s the mindset.”

Now that Cleveland has won a pro sports title — the 1964 Browns of the NFL were the most recent champions — guess what city has gone the current most seasons without winning a major pro sports championship?

San Diego!

Guessing a lot of you got that one right. San Diego has a streak of 109 straight seasons without a title – 52 by the Chargers, 47 by the Padres and 10 from two former NBA teams (Clippers six, Rockets four).

Cleveland got rid of that dubious distinction primarily because of James, the guy who returned to the franchise and made it a goal to end the city’s title woes.

And well, I guess he has been motivated by those of us who didn’t mind pointing out the truth in the past. There were tears everywhere as he relished Sunday’s accomplishment.

“Those emotions came out of me, just leading 14 guys and understanding, like I said, what our city’s been through over the last 50-plus years since Jim Brown,” said James, referring to the legendary running back. “Then also people just counting me out.

“Throughout my 13-year career, I’ve done nothing but be true to the game, give everything I’ve got to the game, put my heart, my blood, sweat, tears into the game, and people still want to doubt what I’m capable of doing.”

OK, OK — we get it. You’re now 3-4 in the NBA Finals.

Maybe you might want to win the next one you’re in as well to get the mark to .500.

But ridicule LeBron James for not coming through when the stage is at its biggest?

Pretty sure that is no longer an option.

You see, he won a title in Cleveland.

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