LeBron James Brings Championship to Cleveland, Kyrie Irving Comes Through in the Clutch


(Photo: OBSEV / Getty)

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are NBA champions.

Sounds weird, doesn't it? Especially after the Cavs went down 3-1 to the defending champs just last week. The narrative was already written about how LeBron would be 2-5 all-time in the Finals. The memes were made.

But after two hard-fought victories, Cleveland won a close Game 7 on Sunday, in a contest that saw 11 ties and 20 lead changes. And things got off to a rocky start.

The Cavs shot just 1-of-10 from three in the first half, but they managed to keep attacking the basket to stay within seven points at halftime. Keeping the score close in the first half was nothing short of a miracle. Cleveland could have easily gone down 20 points, especially while Draymond Green was going off (22 points, 5-of-5 from three in the first half).

The Warriors would extend their lead to as high as eight points in the third quarter before the Cavs responded with eight of their own thanks to the sensational play of Kyrie Irving (26 points, 12 in the third).

Cleveland eventually took a seven-point lead. But you know how this game goes.

Golden State tied things up with an 8-1 run in just a matter of seconds. They had a one-point lead by the end of the third quarter.

That’s when the fireworks began.

The fourth quarter included a little bit of this:

Some of this:

And after playing unselfish basketball for most of the game (a triple-double of 27 points, 11 assists, 11 rebounds), LeBron James began to take over with just under five minutes left in the game, draining his first jumper from deep.

But Stephen Curry (17 points, 4-of-14 from three) and Klay Thompson (14 points, 2-of-10 from three) just couldn't make shots from deep consistently. They both went flat in the final minutes. In fact, nobody on the Warriors scored in the final 4:40 of the game.

With the game tied at 89 apiece, both defenses went into shutdown mode. During that sequence, LeBron made an incredible defensive play to keep Golden State from scoring, giving his team the momentum.

Cleveland wasn't doing much on offense either.

But then Kyrie came through in the clutch with just under a minute left:

And with a chance to put the game away, LeBron took a hard foul, but made the one foul shot needed to give Cleveland their first NBA championship in franchise history.

The Cavs won 93-89 in a huge defensive battle.

Down 3-1 to the greatest regular season team of all time, the unanimous NBA Finals MVP LeBron James took over, with the help of his young sidekick Kyrie Irving. But it was their ability to get contributions from players like Tristan Thompson and Richard Jefferson that made the Cavs great over the last three games. Even Kevin Love was able to contribute in Game 7 with 14 crucial boards.

We all thought the 2016 LeBron James story would be about falling short to a superior Western Conference team, once again. But against all odds, he led a team of misfits (I’m sorry, they’re still misfits with little chemistry) to arguably the greatest NBA comeback of all time.

Even with the four NBA Finals losses, LeBron probably wouldn’t have written his career story any other way. Finally bringing Cleveland a championship was worth the hardship.