LeBron James kept his promise and captured a title for Cleveland

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Updated: June 21, 2016
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The 52-year drought is officially over. LeBron James finally brought a championship to Cleveland, and in dominating fashion. Behind the heroics of James, the Cleveland Cavaliers became the first team in history to erase a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals to win it all.

The Golden State Warriors were in complete control, leading the series 3-1, and seemed destined to repeat as champions and cap off their historic 73-win season. The criticism instantly began towards James. But it wasn’t anything he hadn’t heard before, and he refused to go out without a fight.

Kyrie Irving dominated from start to finish. It was clear that he was the difference-maker from last year’s Finals. In a head-to-head bout with Stephen Curry, Irving clearly out-shined the two-time MVP all series long. According to who you ask, Irving is the reason Cleveland won Game 7 — with the clutch 3-pointer he nailed over Curry with 52 seconds left in the game. And that may be true.

But, it was this play by James that will be the highlight everyone remembers for generations to come:

 

This chase-down block by James will put an exclamation point on his historic performance in the Finals. He claimed his third NBA Finals MVP award, which ties him with Magic Johnson, Tim Duncan and Shaquille O’Neal for second-most in league history, behind Michael Jordan (6). In this series, he averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 8.9 assists, 2.6 steals and 2.3 blocks. And if that stat-line wasn’t enough to claim his third MVP honor, this surely was:

James is the first player in NBA history to accomplish that in a playoff series. With that being said, this has to go down as one of the greatest Finals performances ever.

Many are now arguing where James ranks on the greatest-of-all-time list. Since his career isn’t over and appears to have at least three-to-five strong years remaining, it’s still a bit premature. But love him or hate him, you have no choice but to respect The King.

Something that comes with being proclaimed as one of the greatest is criticism when you don’t reach fans’ expectations. It’s a bit unfair, but that’s our generation of sports — giving fans a platform to voice their opinions on social media. Without intent, James brought that upon himself. A triple-double no longer is enough. He has to score 40-plus, earn a triple-double and win.

Although he may not address the negative assessments head on, he’s fully aware of it. After being absent from all social media outlets since prior to the playoffs, James made his return with a bang. He chose Instagram to “clap back” at the doubters, haters and naysayers all in one:

 

It’s been one roller-coaster ride for James in the last few years. He left Cleveland for South Beach, won two championships in Miami, came back to Cleveland, and in only two seasons back, kept his promise and brought a championship to Northeast Ohio.

Rumors are already circulating about what he will decide to do in the offseason. He accomplished his goal by capturing a title for Cleveland. But now what? It’s hard to rule out anything at this point. But for now, we have to appreciate the hard work he has dedicated to the game –solidifying himself as one of the greatest to ever play, whether you like it or not.

DC Hendrix

DC Hendrix

Report for Sideline Sports Report. Producer/Host for ESPN 1380 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

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