Saturday, May 23, 2009

Where LeBron Happens

They're all real now.

The Powerade commercial where LeBron James makes a bunch of baskets from about 80 feet away? It's true.

The 60 Minutes interview where he swishes a ball underhanded from just beyond halfcourt? It wasn't just showing off.

The practice where LeBron, shirtless and dripping with tattoos and muscles, makes a 40-foot shot from BEHIND the basket, then walks off as if he's done nothing more than picking up his mail? It really was practice.

The halfcourt shots he makes while sitting down? The long throws from the scorer's table that sink through the basket as if they had no place else to go? Tuneups.

They're not camera tricks anymore, not circus tricks, luck, or just some guy screwing around hoping to be called into the remake of the Larry Bird/Michael Jordan McDonald's commercials from 20 years ago.

No, now they're real, and they're spectacular.

Off The Catch, over The Drive, off The Fumble, through The Shot. Nothing but net. LeBron James, our Chosen One, shoved the bad memories into a dark closet with his own memorable moment when his buzzer-beating 3-pointer kept both the Cavs and Cleveland fans' hopes alive in a 96-95 Eastern Conference Finals Game 2 victory Friday night.

Let's face it, the end wasn't just near, the end was here. One second away from blowing everything the Cavs had worked an entire season for. One blink away from devastation. We've been let down time and time again, but this? Two straight home-court losses in the Eastern Conference Finals for a team that was supposed to breeze through to the NBA Finals after the league's MVP led his team to the best record. If Cleveland can't get a title this time -- or at least the chance to play for the title -- then what hope is there? And there's nothing else to turn to. The Indians are treating us to one of the most miserable seasons in their existence. The Browns, months away from playing, just gave us a season worse than the Tribe.

So there was one second left, the Cavs had just blown a 23-point lead, and Charles Barkley was going to be right. Cleveland was one second away from once again becoming a miserable place to live -- especially for sports fans -- and the 30-year-old jokes were going to keep on coming.

One second away from realizing that God still hates Cleveland sports, and always will.

Except that this time the best player in the league is here. The best player in basketball is a Cav. The MVP is on a Cleveland team. And a Cleveland team was on the winning end of a miracle finish that will be talked about for years to come.


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