If you still haven’t heard or seen the trendy topic of the day, then you have missed a gazillion spectacle. A spectacle which will be harder to eclipse than winning 73 games, back to back MVP (Most Valuable Player) titles and an unprecedented unanimous vote at that. When the Cleveland Cavaliers fell into a 1-3 hole in the best of seven series in the NBA Finals, no one believed the team could mind blowingly claw its way back into contention and do the absolute unthinkable to win the championship. To call that feat impressive will do the Cavs a lot of injustice and render their glorious achievement as understatement of the rank it deserves on the list of all time greatness.
Having fallen in the early stages of the series, it was too clear Cleveland still had not figured out the juggernaut called Golden State Warriors. Following massive defeats to the Oakland-based franchise in the regular season, hope was practically lost after the series third defeat in the finals. And then LeBron happened and Kyrie happened and Tristan Thompson happened in fits and here we are, Cleveland celebrating a major sport title for the first time since seven years after Ghana’s independence. Winning the championship in a manner like they did in the Eastern Conference, wouldn’t have attracted this much attention. Blitzing Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks and Toronto Raptors came with an air of expectancy.
These teams are good enough to challenge LeBron James but not overcome him because they are too young, a star player short or too one-dimensional. Meeting an adversary and a familiar one at that in Golden State granted neutrals wish list. The variables involved fluxed from the Warriors wonderful run to the finals after going down 1-3 to Oklahoma City Thunder, a step into immortality for being the team with most wins than any other in history to win a title, to Cleveland’s long wait for a title. The long walk to redemption for James and his LeBronites was validated by a title won inside the building of a team which did same in Cleveland almost a year ago. Cleveland’s long walk to redemption has been anything but easy.
Their archangel departed and went down to earth near the equator (Miami) to win championships at their expense whilst they had to witness futile attempts to get into the postseason. Unlike the Holy Book where the departed angel did not return but formed his own dominion below the heavens, Cleveland’s did go back to elevate to the heavens of hoops immortality reserved for a few named Jordan, Kobe and Magic by bringing home that elusive. To get to the promise land, the “Land” destroyed diplomatic relations with the “Holy Land” by firing David Blatt from all looks of things, to make its’ angel happy.
It had to endure constant ridicule for harboring Angel LeBron who was actually Lucifer to the rest of the world and practically became an inhospitable destination for all who including Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls. Perhaps the biggest pill, Cleveland had to swallow for a title was paying the second highest bill in the league’s history but seeing only a handful play up to such behemoth salaries. Team Owner Dan Gilbert shed little below $ 107 million on a 15 man roster for the year to claim the second most expensive team title in the NBA’s 70 year history. That roster had three cogs in there named Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and James. Now, James and Irving did their thing and then some in James’ case, by scoring 41 points each in a crucial win to set the tie for a major shockwave.
Love on the other hand, was a pedestrian through seven games in the series failing to show up when the team needed him. The former Minnesota Timberwolf was paid $21 million dollars for the season and is under contract to claim little more per season for the next four years. What happens to the roster should he be traded in the off season remains a mystery just like in free agents Timofey Mozgov, J.R.Smith and Matthew Dellavedova’s respective cases.
All that can wait; for today, Cleveland has changed from a down trodden city battling rising poverty to the happiest city on earth on the verge of a trophy parade in its streets for the first time since 1964.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah