Written by Gino Terrell on June 19, 2016 0 Comments
Jun
19th
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Four-time NBA MVP LeBron James shook hands with 2015 NBA MVP Steph Curry before heading to the bench for his final check out in game 6 of the NBA Finals in 2015.

Though Cleveland chanted “MVP” for James while he headed to the bench, the confetti was falling on the Golden State Warriors when the final buzzard sounded. From then to June 5, 2016, the once golden boy of the NBA was being overshadowed by Curry.

Curry, who graced the cover of NBA 2k16, was now the back-to-back NBA MVP. He also lead the Golden State Warriors to a 73-9 regular season record, the best in NBA history. After taking a 2-0 lead against the Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals, sports aficionados were already crowning the Warriors as 2016 champions.

However, the Cavaliers shocked the Warriors with a game 3 blowout 120-90 at home. They were on a cusp of winning game four to get even. However, a fourth quarter scoring drought set back the Cavs as they lost 108-97.

Now down 1-3, James had to do something no team has ever done in the finals. That was having to win three straight to win the title. All 32 previous teams in this situation had failed.

Cavaliers Head Coach Tyronn Lue said the team had to return to Cleveland after game 5 no matter the results. His message to the team was simple.

“Why not comeback home and play a game,” Lue told reporters after game 5.

In a pivotal game 5, with Warriors Draymond Green suspended, the Cavaliers shocked fans at Oracle Arena. Both James and his teammate Kyrie Irving put up 41 points to force a game 6.

“I guess when you’re done with the game of basketball, it could be moments like tonight [game 5] and moments  throughout your career you wish you could get back,” James said after game 5. “No matter how long you turn the stereo system up at your house you will never be able to get it back. You just don’t take these moments for granted, whether you are at home or on the road.”

He made sure his game 6 return to Cleveland was one he would not take for granted either. King James was back and dominated the Warriors with 41 points, 8 rebounds and 11 assists. Curry had fouled out and was ejected for the first time in his career.  The tables had shifted as James, the NBA’s most dominant player physically, returned to be regarded as the golden boy of the NBA as he was before the 2015 NBA Finals.

His finals performance proved he should as he statistically led all players in the 2016 NBA finals in five categories: points (181), tied for first in rebounds (68), assists (51), blocks (13) and steals (16).

What a difference the two games has made for the legacy of James. Had the Cavaliers lost game 5 the Baby-faced Assassin, Curry, would have once again been the king on NBA’s hill with James out of the picture. With James stealing the show with back-to-back dominant performances his run will be remembered as one of the greatest comebacks in finals history whether the Cavaliers win or lose.

A game 7 win would further solidify James legacy. He would lead the Cavaliers to be the first team ever to win an NBA finals series trailing 1-3. He would also lead Cleveland to its first title since December of 1964, as the city holds the longest drought for a team with at least three major sport franchises to win a title. Lastly, he will have slayed the team who has won the most games ever in NBA history as the Warriors won 88 this season led by the first ever unanimous MVP in Curry.

“At the end of the day, I’m going to give my teammates everything that I got. I’m going to give my coaches everything that I got in game 7 and I’ll be satisfied with the results,” James told Craig Sager after game six.

Game 7 is tonight at 8 p.m. (E.T.).