Regardless of the result tonight this in all likely hood will be Lebron James final game in the Quicken Loans Arena as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Even if the Cavs do get the victory, which I expect them to do I do not see any chance the win Game Five Monday night back in Oakland. So my simple message to Cavalier fans is enjoy tonight and soak it in, and when the Cavaliers leave the floor chant thank you to Lebron because you owe that man everything and he owes you nothing.
When Lebron rejoined the Cavs four summers ago I was thrilled for the city and gained a boatload of respect for him in so many ways, leaving to sun-kissed beaches, hot women, nightlife of Miami, Florida. To return to the cold hard streets, of rundown Cleveland, Ohio is not a decision most would make. James returned to the team that he spent the first seven years of his career with and teamed with Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love to form the NBA’s new big three.
Lebron’s first year back in Cleveland was a bumpy road for him and the team at one point in the regular season the Cavs were below .500 and Lebron dealt with his first only injury that cost him significant time when he sat out a month with a high ankle sprain. The Cavs lost Love in the first round of the playoffs that year, Lebron and Irving pulled their team to the Finals without Love knocking out the Chicago Bulls and Atlanta Hawks on their way. They faced off with the Golden State Warriors in the Finals, and in overtime of Game One Irving’s knee gave way he limped and scooted his way down the tunnel and disappear into the locker room his season over with a fractured kneecap. James willed the Finals to a sixth game but it wasn’t enough and the Cavs season ended on their home floor that night.
The next year the Cavs felt much drama, halfway through the year Head Coach David Blatt was fired and replaced by Tyronn Lue who had won a championship as a player with the Los Angeles Lakers, and as an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics. The move freed up the players this time when the playoffs came around both Love and Irving were healthy. The Cavs ousted the Detriot Pistons in the first round, then took care of business with the Hawks, and Toronto Raptors to get back to the Finals for a rematch with the Warriors. The Warriors took the first two games at home, the Cavs won Game Three at home but faltered in Game Four and were facing a 3-1 series lead, many felt the Cavs, Lebron, and the Finals were done. The turning point of the series game in the final minutes of game four, the Warriors Draymond Green committed a flagrant foul on Lebron in the fourth quarter. Green was suspended for game five back in Oakland, in that game five LeBron and Irving both scored 41 points and the Cavs got Game Five in Oakland, all of a sudden momentum was theirs with Game Six coming up back in Cleveland. Lebron dropped another 41 point piece in Game Six while the Warriors Steph Curry got in foul trouble and got ejected. The Cavs forced Game Seven, a game that will go down as one of the greatest in NBA History. Neither team led by more than 10 points all night, and with the game close late James and Irving turned in two of the biggest plays in NBA History. After an Irving missed layup the Warriors broke the other way a 2 on 1 between Andre Iguodala and Steph Curry, James chased down Iguodala for the block. Seconds later Irving hit a three-pointer that would prove to be the dagger and the Cavs ended Cleveland Sports 52-year Championship drought.
In the two years since not much has gone right in Cleveland, the second best player in the league Kevin Durant joined the Warriors making them unbeatable. The Cavs fell in last years Finals in five games, in the summer Irving departed in a trade with the Boston Celtics. In return, the Cavs got Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets 1st round pick unprotected. That trade did not work out well for the Cavs Thomas only played a handful of games before being dealt at the deadline, Crowder was dealt as well, Zizic never has played significant minutes, and the pick fell to 8th overall. Now, LeBron prepares for his final act in Cleveland and Cleveland has nothing to say but Thank You, and build a statue of that man outside the arena now, don’t wait for him to retire.