When I think of Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, I think of Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins. The juicer subplot is James winning two titles with the Miami Heat during his sabbatical from Cleveland. Now that he has come back and playing in his second straight NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, it’s becoming more clear. They might just be forever second. Runner-up. Silver medal seated. Good job territory.
The Warriors kicked James’ Cavs around the court Thursday night. The final score was 104-89 but the sheet could have read a lot to a little. The Cavs looked like The Harlem Globetrotters out there. They were slow, clumsy and behind every play. It wasn’t just wizard Steph Curry dishing for four quarters. It was a supporting cast that includes Shaun Livingston. It looked like a can of red bull charging on against an old tin can of Folgers coffee.
Lebron didn’t help. He went 9-21 from the court and couldn’t improve. He shot bricks and was defended well. When everyone is lining up to stop you like you are an army, life gets hard. When it’s the NBA Finals, a candle burns brighter. The Cavs have a supporting cast but they needed their stud to take over and James didn’t. That’s the moral of his story. When his teams haven’t been good enough, he gets the blame. Thursday, he didn’t deserve all of it but will receive it nonetheless.
He ran into similar issues against the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic years ago. He couldn’t break down the walls required and that was when he was averaging 35 points in the series. When he drops a measly 23 points Thursday and gets little support, the result is always going to involve the letter L.
Cleveland is a sad place to be for sports fans. For the past 50 years, their three teams haven’t won a championship. The Lebron struggles, the Indians collapse in 1997, and the Browns overall futility(when Johnny Manziel is your headline for off the field stuff, ouch). Watching the brilliant 30 for 30 ESPN film Believeland, it’s hard to not feel bad for Cleveland sports fans. Deserve is a big word but if any city needs something, it’s Cleveland. Remember 60 years ago when they were the industrial goldmine? Yeah, ancient history.
I’m sure the Cavs and Lebron will carve out a win or two this series. They have way too much size and skill to basically vanish into the night. They won’t win four games though. James can put on, remove, and put his headband on if he wants to but it won’t make a difference. He did an honorable thing in coming back to Cleveland to try and I bet he will get back to finals again but a team with better youth and overall skill in Golden State will be waiting. It’s more than just James and Curry, but for this casual fan of the sport, I see one standing in front of the other.
It’s no secret that certain things link these two men. Curry didn’t win his title until his sixth season. James bolted Cleveland after seven title-less seasons. The time might have come and Curry could have bolted but that never played out. James went to Miami and played with his buddies, winning two rings instead of the promised six. He came back to make things right but I don’t think he will ever make it.
It’s double chilling to realize Curry and James are both from Akron, Ohio. I’m sure this has been reported 69,000 times on ESPN but it was intriguing for this new face to roll over. When James was just three years old, Curry came into the world in the same place. They probably crossed paths several times and thought down the road they could face off. Did James know that Curry would stand in his way of Cleveland royalty then? Without Curry, would the Warriors win a title last year and be three wins away from one now? I don’t think so. He’s a magical talent. So is James. Luck and destiny are tricky things folks.
You never know. James and the Cavs could make a comeback. They could resist defeat and defeat Golden State. It’s just not that likely. This is real life. Not fantasy.
Cleve-believe-land may not get a title from their beloved Lebron James. They may be forever a runner-up.