The Atlanta Falcons got nothing on the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Yo, we’re talking next-level choke right here.
Granted, in a one-game, play-for-it-all deal, Matt Ryan and Co. may have no peers in the meltdown department as evidenced by the most recent Super Bowl “gifted” to New England – that’s two in a row, Tom Brady bromantics. But, for sheer disaster in lightning-strike efficiency, and the lasting effect it likely will have, it’ll be hard for any team to match what LeBron James and his fellow Cavaliers endured Wednesday night … at their own hands.
Down 2-0, facing a must-win situation in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, the King and his crew had Golden State dead to rites. It was over … well, if they just converted on this “gimme” possession with 2:25 remaining. Up 113-107 and the Warriors fading, James, after snaring an offensive rebound, connected with Kevin Love on a pass that had 8-point advantage written all over it.
Only Love fumbled around with the pass, struggled to get off the shot and missed.
In a flash, Steph Curry grabbed the rebound and raced down court for an easy bucket.
That, my friends, was ballgame right there.
Cleveland never recovered. Hell, it never scored the rest of the way as the Warriors ended things, and essentially the best-of-7 series, with an 11-0 run.
Not for nothing, but even the most hardcore defenders of the King have a difficult case to present right now.
Thing is, the guy makes the “right” play all the time. The team-oriented, fundamentally sound basketball play.
Especially at crunch time.
Only problem is, when you’re the best player in the game – and, please, Paul Pierce, shut up, you sound like friggin’ idiot with pushing Kevin Durant as that – it is your duty to take over down the stretch and just dominate. That ain’t the time to get everyone involved, or off the schneid so they may help out later in the series.
When you’re within earshot of how good LeBron you don’t mess around with such selfless acts. The best damn thing you can do is become, well, Michael or Kobe or, for heaven’s sake, Iverson for a two-, three- or five-minute stretch, or however long it takes, to carry your team to victory.
Every damn time … but never more so than in a must-win to salvage a series, or even your own rep, situation.
Beginning with that cluster eff exchange with the suddenly sporting hands of stone Love, there was not a single Cavs’ possession in that game’s final 145 seconds that had any business reading anything less than “James FG attempt.”
That falls on both him and his teammates. Hey, great, Kyrie Irving has an awesome handle and the kind of selfish blood coursing through his veins that would suit his more talented teammate at crucial moments.
Key words there: more talented.
LeBron is more talented than anyone in the game. He’s better. Just is.
When things matter most, it would behoove him to own that – full-blown, hardcore – and just take over.
Because at the point, “right” is wrong. Wednesday’s loss was yet another in a growing list of examples for James – and even his most staunch defenders, yours truly included.