For a majority of the NBA season, the Golden State Warriors played like champions.
They even recorded the best regular season in NBA history going 73-9, shattering the Chicago Bulls 72-win season in 1995-1996.
They blewout teams on a regular basis, and all but coasted through the Western Conference playoffs. Defeating the Houston Rockets in 5 games, the Portland Trail Blazers in 5, and the Oklahoma City Thunder in 7.
The Cleveland Cavaliers meanwhile were 57-25, and though they earned the top seed in the Eastern Conference they were huge underdogs in these NBA Finals. It also didn’t help that the Cavaliers were also down 3-1 in the series at the end of Game 4, and the series shifting to Oracle Arena in Oakland.
Then LeBron James took over. He recorded two straight 40-plus games in the Finals to become the first player to accomplish that feat since Shaquille O’Neal for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2000. He also recorded his 7th career Finals triple-double in tonight’s game. That’s the second-most all-time (Magic Johnson has 8).
What it all came down to was the Cavaliers wanted it more. Golden State wasn’t making shots they normally could earlier in the season, and as a result Cleveland capitalized on them. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson were atrocious in Game 7, shooting 6-for-19 and 6-for-17 respectively. It also didn’t help that the Warriors lost their center Andrew Bogut for the remainder of the Finals after a Game 5 knee injury, but injuries are a part of the game. Imagine how LeBron felt last year when he had no Kyrie Irving or Kevin Love for the 2015 Finals.
This has the potential to develop into a great rivalry. Both sides have a championship, and if these two teams get together again next June, there’s no telling how much it’ll help the NBA’s image.
If you’re a true fan of sports you can’t help but feel happy for the city of Cleveland. They have suffered heartache after heartache for decades, and for them to win a title under these circumstances is unbelievable. It took the city 52 years (the last one was the Browns in 1964), but the northeast Ohio area is sure to remember this one for a long time.
LeBron has added another trophy to his legacy, and though he is vastly criticized for his 3-4 NBA Finals record, he has done what he came to do.
He came to win a championship for Cleveland, and he has done just that. Nothing and nobody can take that away from him and from that city.