Culture of Hoops

Appreciate LeBron James in ‘The Now’

Image courtesy of Eric Kilby/Flickr.

Image courtesy of Eric Kilby/Flickr.

There is a longing for the past that exists among not only sports fans, but all members of society. A nostalgia for a time long gone, solely existing in the mind and the endless pits of YouTube and late-night NBA TV programming.

LeBron James isn’t Magic.”

“LeBron isn’t MJ.”

Instead of focusing on the greatness being witnessed, there are needless comparisons to the past that only bring forth a sense of sadness into the present day.

For fans in Cleveland the past is 1964, the last year a professional team in Cleveland won a championship when the Cleveland Browns defeated the Baltimore Colts by the score of 27-0. Fun sidenote: Both of these cities lost their teams, one to Indianapolis and one to Baltimore, thus returning football to Maryland and taking it away from the shores of Lake Erie.

ESPN did a great job of reminding Cleveland fans about this long-standing title drought with their yearly showing of clips of Cleveland teams losing. I need not say the names given to the moments, as they are spoken of enough.

Not only were the clips shows, but ESPN, on SportsCenter, had the gall to have a banner labeled as breaking news that stated how Cleveland still remained without a title since 1964 following the Game 6 loss to the Golden State Warriors.

But Cleveland fans are used to this treatment from the Worldwide Leader in Sports. Constant talk of defeat and reminders of moments that happened decades ago seem to pop up annually whenever Cleveland finally makes it into the news for having any sort of success.

But things are different this time around. Yes, the Cavaliers just lost in the NBA Finals. Yes, the team was up 2-1 with and lost two of the last three games at home. For fans in Cleveland, the best way to describe it is to say it sucks. That simple.

The difference is that even though the loss hurt, it leaves hope. LeBron James told fans it would take time for the team to reach the peak of becoming a champion, it just so happened that the East was weak enough to allow the Cavs to reach the Finals without Kevin Love or a healthy Kyrie Irving. As much as fans wanted to believe earlier on in the postseason, a rotation featuring 35-plus minutes from Matthew Dellavedova does not look good. That is not to hate on Delly, he gave all he had and more. It is just to show how fans should realize what LeBron did for the team and the city.

The arguments are correct. LeBron is not Magic and he is not Michael. He is LeBron. There will likely come a time in the future, when the conversation of “He’s not LeBron,” comes up in regards to the next NBA megastar.

At the end of the day (LeBron’s go-to line to answer any question) it should not matter if LeBron is as great as those who played before him. Who cares? There is no true way to measure the intangible aspect of greatness, and there never will be.

LeBron James, the true Finals MVP, which is a discussion for another day, just put up absolutely insane numbers in basketball’s biggest stage. With averages of 35.8 points, 8.8 assists, and 13.3 rebounds in the series, James put on a show even his biggest haters should appreciate.

He came back to Cleveland to play with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, a situation where he would not be solely relied on to win games. Jump to the NBA Finals and LeBron had to play nearly the entire game, every game, just so the Cavs could have a chance to win. And the team still took two games. The thought of what could have been if Love and Irving will be talked about as time passes, but may die down when LeBron ultimately delivers a title to Cleveland. I word it as such because the way the team performed without two All-Stars was good enough to be two wins away from winning the NBA Finals.

Barring the unexpected, it appears that Cleveland is on its way. On its way to a championship, and the end of the monotonous montages of misery in the city. All thanks to LeBron James. He may not be Magic or MJ, but he is the best in the world right now, and that’s what should matter.


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