It knotted the game at 89.
It knotted the points for the Series at 699-699.
As the Louisville Cardinal radio announcer of my youth Ed Kallay would say, “That’s about as close as you can get it.”
At which juncture, the compelling Best of 7 that had gained in intensity, by the day, on the court and off, redlined the Stress Meter past 11.
James missed a 22 footer.
Steph Curry missed a trey.
LeBron misfired on a deuce.
Thompson couldn’t net a two from 15 feet.
Andre Igoudala blocked a James shot at the rim. Then couldn’t find the hole from beyond the arc.
With each possession, the tension became more smothering, sucking the breath out of those who paid $50 large for their courtside seats, those in the bleachers, those in the Square in Cleveland, and folks gathered to watch together on big screens everywhere.
The shut down D continued. So too, the resulting offensive woes.
Kevin Love was errant from 10 feet.
Draymond Green, having lost his 5/5 touch from early on, missed a three.
Kyrie Irving couldn’t connect on a runner.
That resulted in a Golden State runout, which looked like it would end the drought and give the Warriors a two point lead with less than 2:00 to play.
Until LeBron James made the defensive play of the game, of the series, of the season, of his career, blocking what seemed a sure Igoudala fast break layin.1
The teams remained locked at 89 apiece.
And so it went.
James missed a deuce. Curry missed a trey.
Then, finally, at :53, 3:45 of shot clock after the last tally by either of the best two teams in the world, Kyrie Irving launched and drained a threeball over the weary reach of the reigning MVP.
Cleveland 92, Golden State 89. The Cavs got another digit, a James charity toss. The Dubs, four points short of immortality, were done for ’15-’16, never scoring again.
* * * * *
The City by the Lake has its first pro sports championship since Lorenzo Carter built his cabin on the banks of the Cuyahoga River and hung his Jim Brown autographed jersey on one of its log walls. The denizens of this proud burg are faced with real conundrum from now until foreverafter, a debate that shall gleefully rage on continually.
What was the biggest play of the game?
The block by home boy LeBron James? The trey by adopted Kyrie Irving?
There is no right answer.
But there is this. Golden State, out of magic, having sweated away all the fairy dust, had no answer either.
* * * * *
For whatever ersatz reasons it needed to be confirmed, LeBron James’ legacy is now safe and secure.
He is easily in the argument for Best Ever.
He has done what oh so very many of us have fantasized about in various forms of endeavors. Won it for his homies. Honor among his brothers and sisters.
I wanted Golden State to win. Yet I was glad for the Cavs, glad for Cleveland and touched by James’ seriously emotional reaction to the victory.
* * * * *
A few words about Steph Curry, who had to wear the burden imposed by scribes as myself, who were wont to mistakenly proclaim him basketball’s best these days. Which he never was.
Most dazzling. Most entertaining. Most dumbfounding, when nailing those rocket shot treys. Yes to all.
But LeBron, an amazing physical specimen, with transcendent talents, is the best. As he always has been since his entry into the League, our doubts and naysaying notwithstanding.
Curry did not git ‘er done in the Finals. But you shall not hear me say he “choked.”
He certainly was weary, tired and battered from being pinballed by defenses throughout the loosely called playoffs that never allowed him free passage without the ball. To me, it was most noticeable when he dribbled, too often simply losing the handle. Then there were those inexplicable bad and lazy passes. Which, one guy’s opinion were the result of serious fatigue.
Of course, he wasn’t the only tired player, the only one who had been pushed around. But he was every foe’s target and bore the brunt of relentless and ever present physical resistance.
* * * * *
In the end, Cleveland won for one simple reason.
LeBron James wasn’t going to allow his team to lose. He imposed that spirit force on his mates.
* * * * *
Other than a famous Celtics vs. Hawks Eastern Conference playoff game from sometime in the 80s, a game when Larry Bird and Dominique Wilkins went you take this you take that mano an mano for the entirety, last night’s Cavalier W over the Warriors was the best pro game I’ve seen.
— Seedy K