In the seven years I've watched you, especially the last two with this blog, you've done some of the most amazing and awe-inspiring things in Cleveland sports history. You've been a shining example of how team basketball is supposed to be played, always putting your teammates, your fans, your organization ahead of all the other nonsense from critics, pundits, and ESPN talking heads. It's never been about filling someone else's shoes that everyone tries to put you in (Michael's, Magic's, Kobe's, Oscar's, Bird's), it's been about creating your own way and winning a championship along that path and doing it the right way.
It's well chronicled that you're hurting, your elbow is probably going to require surgery after the season. It's affecting your jump shot in a profound way, and it's limiting your often-limitless abilities. But, your effort has been drawn into question after two blowout home losses by a combined fifty points. FIFTY POINTS! That's on the same court where you guys had only lost nine times in the last two years before this series. You're holding back, and the rest of the team is following your lead, the same way it always followed your lead when they overachieved to the NBA Finals in 2007 and to the best regular season record last year. This time, there's no excuse. You don't have Larry Hughes, Sasha Pavlovic, and Drew Gooden at your side anymore. Instead, it's Shaquille O'Neal, Antawn Jamison, and Mo Williams. This is the best team you've had in your NBA career, your first true chance to get the Larry O'Brien trophy. But, in the course of the last two games, that chance has been minimized to the point where everyone's saying you've played your last game in Quicken Loans Arena as a member of the Cavs, implying that your last game in a Cavalier uniform is one short hour away.
So, I'm asking you, LeBron, King James, The Chosen One, LBJ, Mr. MVP x2, to do what you've done throughout the last five years in the playoffs, carry us. Take it upon yourself to go out and take this game, not play and see what happens, but TAKE IT! The Celtics cannot stop you; you are the only one that can stop yourself, LeBron. Do whatever it takes, whether it's 40, 45, 50 points, a triple double, a dynamic defensive performances, or maybe all three. You've never been afraid of the moment before, and now isn't the time to start. If nothing else, leave it all out there. Leave it out there like Game 7 two years ago in Boston when your 45 points fell just short, like the Orlando series last year when you nearly averaged 40 points per game in the six-game series, like the Finals when the Spurs were more than we could handle, but you never stopped attacking. If you do that, everyone, and more importantly, us Cleveland fans, will applaud your effort and never question it.
I've been through more sports heartache than I care to admit, and I wasn't even old enough to remember "The Drive", "The Shot", "Red Right 88", and "The Fumble". But, I do remember the Indians coming up short all those years in a row in the nineties, "The Blown Save", "The Collapse in '07", the heart and soul of two different Tribe cores being traded away, the Browns moving, the Browns being irrelevant ever since, not to mention the Ohio State heartaches of two straight football national championship game losses and one in the basketball championship game.
For once, LeBron, give us a happy ending, something the forever-scrutinized city of Cleveland can never have taken from it, a championship. Start with tonight's game and never look back. Show you're the MVP, show we are the best team like we were all season long, and show the haters that the Cavaliers are not going quietly into the night. Save the team from the losing, selling, and relocation that are all but a certainty if you move out of Ohio. Stay with us, and we'll stay with you, win or lose.
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