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A Sudden Fondness for Cleveland and LeBron James

June 7th, 2015 · No Comments · Basketball, NBA

When deciding which team to support with my negligible psychic energy, I tend to make a choice based on geography.

The hometown team over the guys next door. The guys next door over the guys further away. The regional guys over the ones from the other side of the country.

If we sort it out on an individual level, it usually will revolve around that team’s best player, and which of those players I prefer will also come into play.

So, the current NBA Finals ought to find me a confirmed fan of the California team over the Ohio team, and the team of spunky Stephen Curry over that of LeBron James.

But that is not the case. Particularly since LeBron showed up to Game 2 today with exactly zero helpers of any significant pedigree.

You may remember how this started.

Cleveland entered the playoffs with the usual Big Three players required of all serious championship contenders: Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and LeBron.

Love’s season ended when an opponent ripped Love’s arm out of its socket, requiring surgery. And then Irving suffered a broken knee cap in Game 1 of the Finals, and that left LeBron and a bunch of anonymities to go up against the NBA’s best team during the regular season, the Golden State Warriors.

The team of “Steph” Curry and his “splash brother” Klay Thompson and various big men. Who seemed likely to dismiss Cleveland in four straight, after winning Game 1 in overtime — when Irving got hurt.

Instead, it was LeBron and the Cavs 95-93 in overtime. And I couldn’t help but admire LeBron’s embrace of his team’s reduced circumstances.

He scored 39, with 16 rebounds and 11 assists — his fifth career Finals triple-double. And he made players like Timofey Mozgov, Matthew Dellavedova, Iman Shumpert and James Jones … look like valuable contributors.

This is a great experiment, on two levels:

1. Can Cleveland win a major sports championship for the first time since 1964 (Browns, NFL)?

2. And can LeBron carry an extraordinarily ordinary supporting cast to a championship?

I’m beginning to think “yes … yes, he can.”


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