NBA Finals: Every thrilling second of LeBron James' iconic Game 7 block
The Drive. The Fumble. The Shot. Now Cleveland has "The Block"
The Drive. The Fumble. The Shots. Cleveland has all sorts of sports moments worthy of their own names which define heartache, pain, and the joy of the other team.
Now they have one of their own.
Move over Tayshaun Prince. This is the greatest block in NBA history.
With that play, LeBron James took away the Warriors' go-ahead basket, setting up Kyrie Irving's go-ahead 3-pointer in Steph Curry's ocular cavity which would hold as the Cavaliers captured Cleveland's first title in 52 years and the first championship in franchise history.
Here's how insane this play was.
STEP 1: RECOGNITION
James sees Iguodala secure the ball. A lot of players, even James, are going to react in some other way, frustration, confusing hesitance here. Instead, James transitions into tracking the play. With 1:56 to play, James is standing in the top corner of the left-side camera-facing basket.
STEP 2: TARGET ACQUISITION
James locks onto the play and starts to plan the block now. James is already going through how to get there. There's 1:56 to play.
STEP 3: CAPTURE
This is where things get crazy. Look at the time on the clock when James crosses halfcourt, at 1:54.
Now look at the time when James goes to make his jump for the block.
Two seconds. It's really more like 1.5 seconds, all total. He goes from halfcourt to just outside the restricted area and in the air in 1.5 seconds. That is just superhuman.
STEP 4: THE ASSIST
Hey, just so we're clear on this, Iguodala dunks this if J.R. Smith doesn't deter him by getting hand up and making Iguodala duck under the arm.
That's what allows James to recover and catch up. J.R. Smith had the best postgame presser after a career season. This may have been the best play he's ever made and no one will ever really know. (Except you, dear reader.)
STEP 5: EXTERMINATE
James not only catches up to Iguodala, but catches up to the ball. Iguodala floats the ball up on the glass instead of directly laying it in, and that's disaster. That's what ruins him. James destroys it. Still. It's close. Look at how close the play was to being a goaltend.
In the end, maybe the most emphatic element here is that James does this to Iguodala, who won Finals MVP for defending James last year, and who many felt had "solved" James again early on in this series. (Hint: I was one such person.) In the final two games of this series, James blocked Iguodala, Green and Curry. Message: delivered.
This play is the perfect encapsulation of James and his game. (And a stark contrast to Steph Curry's Finals, in which if he wasn't hitting 3-pointers, he was not much of a factor.) James' awareness, athleticism, timing and effort all came together to help deliver Cleveland a title, and an iconic moment in NBA playoff history.
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