ORLANDO -- Here we are, in the most improbable of places, on the precipice of another Cleveland sports disaster, with LeBron James serving as Earnest Byner, just one loss away from being LeBron Byner.
LeByner tried. He really did. He got his usual googolplex of points and highlight dunks. Nike will be quite happy with him.
As great as James is, however, not even James can beat the Cleveland curse. The officials tried to help by calling more phantom fouls on Orlando defenders. This time, when David Stern hit the magic button that connects to the micro-buzzer inside the refs' cerebral cortex, the rigging of the game was overridden by the curse and the Cavaliers lost 116-114 in overtime.
• Recap: Magic 116, Cavaliers 114 (OT)
Yes, James tried, and he was valiant, but he's the leader, and he still lost this game, and subsequently, the series is lost. LeByner will get a pass from his sycophants and apologists. Mike Brown will get blamed. His supporting cast will get blamed. John Elway will get blamed, but this is all on LeByner.
There is no way that if James was as eternal as so many maintain he'd lose this series in this manner. Let's not forget that before these playoffs many in and around the league penciled the Cavaliers into the championship.
Why am I acting like this series is over? Because it is. This series is so done there should be an oven timer attached to it. Ding. Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy just took the Cavaliers out of the microwave and set the dinner table.
Teams that take a 3-1 lead win 96 percent of the series; that's 9 and 6.
Nice job, LeByner. Way to go, Michael Jordan.
Indeed, Jordan wouldn't have lost this game or been destroyed in this series.
He certainly wouldn't have appeared as casual as James did afterwards. There wasn't a lot of anger or disappointment in James' voice at how Cleveland was the best team in the regular season and is now getting embarrassed. James took the Game 4 loss in stride. Just another loss, people, nothing to see here.
Jordan would've strangled someone.
The chance of James reaching the NBA Finals this year is as thin as the dust particles created when he sprays powder into the air before every game.
So Cleveland sports fans, please, start your nicknames. Already there's The Drive, The Catch, The Fumble and The Shot.
How about The Choke?
|LeBron's failure to lead in this series should earn him another nickname from Cleveland fans ... LeByner. (Getty Images)|
"We've lost two games off inbounds plays," James said.
That's how they lost? Two inbounds plays? It had nothing to do with Orlando playing harder, smarter, better?
Inbounds plays? Really?
Many of us (me included) made the mistake of not giving the Magic enough credit before the series began, but it seems the Cavaliers aren't giving them the proper amount of respect now.
How can anyone blame James for this dreaded predicament the Cavaliers find themselves in, some of you will stammer? In Cleveland's three losses James scored 49, 44 and 41 points. He did everything except donate a kidney.
He did everything except win.
There is plenty of blame to go around and James' teammates will absorb most of it, but I don't remember that same supporting cast getting roasted when the Cavaliers drop kicked their other playoff opponents.
Now that the Cavaliers are gagging the sidekicks are taking all the heat.
I'm beginning to wonder just what exactly did the city of Cleveland do to deserve this level of consistent sports misery? Is the city built on Indian burial ground? Is a citywide exorcism required?
In typical city of Cleveland form, this is what will happen in the remainder of this series. The Cavaliers will win the next two games and force a Game 7 at home. It'll go down to the last shot for Cleveland to win. James will have the ball and as he goes up for the jumper the clock ticks down.
Three, two, one ...
But before he shoots, James loses the basketball off his knee, and it dribbles away harmlessly out of bounds. The Magic win.
Television cameras then turn to the stands and sitting in his chair, mouth agape, popcorn in hand, is Earnest Byner, who had the historic last-minute fumble against Denver in the 1988 AFC title game.
That would be a perfect city of Cleveland ending.