Last summer was supposed to be the best time of my life. My wife gave birth to our twin boys on May 7th. Later that night, while in the hospital room, LeBron and the Cavs played Game Two in Cleveland against Atlanta and went on to rout the Hawks in route to a four-game sweep.
Life was good. I could take the staying up all night and the helping my wife recover because I had time off from work (FMLA), a beautiful family, and most importantly (please don't take this out of context) the Cavs were on their way to an NBA Finals appearance against Kobe and the Lakers.
Then, the bottom dropped. The Orlando Magic came out and spoiled it. Mo Williams couldn't make shots. Dwight Howard made his free throws. The Cavs couldn't hold on to leads. The Cavs lost 4-2. I instantly went into a state of deep depression.
Over the summer during my free time, I watched re-runs on NBA TV and NBA.com of the conference finals trying to pinpoint where it all fell apart. With each trey buried by Pietrus and Lewis, the knife in my heart sunk deeper and deeper.
Then, the offseason moves by LeBron. The non-handshake. Nike-Gate. The NBA MVP t-shirt TMZ caught him wearing. It left me wondering if the hunger would be there not only to get back, but to win it all?
Then the season came. It started slow, but the Cavs eventually came on. Shaq started playing better. LeBron took his game up another level. I started psyching myself up with numbers and analysis from experts and stat geeks. "MJ won it all his seventh year"; "The Celtics won two years ago, Kobe last year, now starts the reign of LBJ."
Heading into the postseason I felt confident. We demolished the Bulls in five, now here come the Celtics. No way that they can stop King James and his army. Mo Williams won't choke two years in a row, will he? It's time to send them to their retirement party and on to the rematch with Dwight and the Magic.
But then, during Game One, I got that feeling again. The feeling that no matter how hard I try to ignore, it keeps coming back about the same time of year. The feeling that I can't win for losing. The feeling that makes me wonder what bad things I have done to constantly endure the pain of not having the one thing I want so much: to celebrate an NBA title.
The past couple of years, I have been able to make excuses, and rightfully so. LeBron played great series, but the supporting cast wasn't there. I remember going to work the Monday after he dropped 45 in the Boston Garden and saying to co-workers, "If one person would have stepped up, we would have won." Last year, LeBron played the greatest playoff series I have ever seen (other than D-Wade in the '06 Finals), yet it still was not enough.
Those I could get over, because as great as he is, no one can do it alone. This year, the excuses are gone, and the poor play has been by the King. I have run out of ways to comfort myself. The highlights won't do. The analysis won't do. The only thing that will save me and the city of Cleveland is to win. Please, LeBron—Game Six is tonight. Please pull out one of those great performances that we all know you are capable of.
Channel your inner Game Five at the Palace in '07. Or your 45 in Boston in '08. Or your 24-point fourth quarter in Toronto. The world is waiting for you. While for you it may be just a game, for myself and Cavs and LeBron fans everywhere it really is MORE THAN A GAME.
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