CLEVELAND -- The Cavaliers wasted their lone opportunity to win a game in the NBA Finals.
|LeBron has the tongue bit down, but he's still far from resembling Air Jordan. (AP)|
It's not life or death, if only because this city is so consumed by failure that everyone has learned how to deal with it, but comprehend how painful this has become. Spirits were high entering Tuesday night's event. What occurred in San Antonio seemed to get washed away.
Cleveland back at home, having dominated Washington, New Jersey and Detroit, most expected the Cavaliers to win. They expected them to play conquering heroes. They expected LeBron James to knock down shots he couldn't. A 3-pointer from the top of the key? Off. A layup? No good. It was all too contested. Too difficult. Too much.
San Antonio came into Cleveland and took the heart of everyone watching and everyone playing with a 75-72 victory for a 3-0 series lead in the Finals. It was almost as if the Spurs knew that by winning the third game, the first in Cleveland, the one everyone had circled in their Trapper Keepers, that this would put a culmination to the little engine that could ... or couldn't.
Should James have passed the ball to Anderson Varejao in the final minute? Maybe not. Was he following the same recipe that caused a Game 1 loss to Detroit in the Eastern Conference finals? Maybe. However, James passed the ball out of a double team, making the right basketball play, and his teammate let him down -- again.
If there is anything that you can blame James for, having reached his first NBA Finals a full year -- at least -- before he was supposed to, it's his personnel decisions. He wanted Larry Hughes. He had to have Donyell Marshall. He thought Damon Jones was a good idea.
He had nothing to do with the deal that brought Drew Gooden and Varejao over from Orlando for Tony Battie. That was larceny. Everything else was his fault. And at this point, that's what it is. His fault.
You can't get on James for his inability to win this series because you can't beat the San Antonio Spurs short-handed. If Tony Parker and Tim Duncan are held well below their averages, and Manu Ginobili goes scoreless until the final 10.4 seconds, shouldn't you win? If you don't, shouldn't you recognize something that has become a dynasty, whether you like it, laud it, or not?
If James has an opportunity to win a game in the closing minutes the way Michael Jordan made a living doing, shouldn't he? Whether you're Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird or Tim Kempton, if you're going to chirp up and be great, well, damn it, be great. Don't miss. Don't subject a city to failure.
You want to talk about heartbreak, talk about the fact that the greatest night in Cleveland basketball history will go down with all the rest. It will go down with a fumble, a touchdown pass, and an error in the World Series as another awful moment in Cleveland's history.
This was supposed to be it. Down five points entering the fourth quarter, LeBron basically guaranteed that if this game would be this close, he would win it. He didn't. He had opportunities. Yes, he is great. But now -- now, everyone might finally understand what it really takes to get to the pinnacle in this league.
So now we are in these NBA Finals and you've all read how I decided to put my job on the line for the sake of hammering in a point. And I'm right, again.
Too bad that this time it costs a city everything it hopes and dreams of. Too bad that this time, being right disparages a legend in the making. It's not fair, but things rarely are.
The San Antonio Spurs are up 3-0 in the NBA Finals. A dynasty flexing its muscles when no one appreciates it is sad. That's why this is all so depressing. No one, outside of San Antonio, is happy right now. Especially Cleveland. Welcome to reality.