Dan Gilbert certainly won’t get the last laugh, and LeBron James won’t even allow a slight giggle.
The Miami Heat continued their blitz on the league and extended their historic win streak to 24 games with an epic 27-point comeback against the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday night.
James stole the game with a triple-double on 25 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists to lead Miami's 98-95 victory.
It was all too fitting for James’ ongoing assault on the hearts and minds of Cleveland.
The second-longest winning streak in league history appeared in jeopardy at the former home of James—the setting of the hardest breakup in league history. Cleveland fans were thirsty for a semblance of revenge, and what better way to do it than end King James' march to history?
Cavs up 21 over Miami!!! Should Cleveland fans be allowed to storm the floor NCAA-style if they win? I say yes.— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) March 21, 2013
Of course, these are the fans who burned jerseys of their former love. James’ departure from the team that drafted him—the team he battled seven seasons for—was taken as a personal attack against everyone who ever lent support to the franchise.
Gilbert, the Cavaliers owner, wrote an open letter to Cavs fans that looked more like a belligerent text message sent after 2 a.m. Among the highlights:
You simply don't deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.
You have given so much and deserve so much more.
In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:
"I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE"
But LeBron James is a reigning NBA champion—a title he could never give Cleveland—and the Cavs, well, they’re destined for another lottery.
But a win against the Heat would have made Cleveland's season. And it was happening. James cut Miami's deficit to 26 points and had just six points with seven minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Then, James led the largest comeback ever by one of his teams.
From the point of that made free throw in the third quarter, LeBron tallied 19 points (going 3-of-5 from three-point range), 10 rebounds, six assists and three steals.
Cleveland fans didn't know how to handle it; one even sprinted onto the floor with a shirt reading "We miss you, Come Back 2014."
LeBron hasn't scored since 3-minute mark of 1Q & Cavs have expanded lead to 27 with 7 min in 3Q.— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) March 21, 2013
When James completed the comeback early in the fourth quarter with a triple to tie, he did it with a glare of vindictiveness toward the crowd, beating his chest, possessed, glaring, stomping.
A sellout crowd of 20,562 moaned as James sank two free throws to extend the lead to 98-95 with four seconds remaining.
You think James didn’t want this game?
He wants the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers' streak record of 33 games. He wants the better of Gilbert’s Cleveland.
He wants it all.
Follow NBA Lead Writer @JimmySpencerNBA on Twitter.