Stephen Curry won consecutive MVP awards the last two seasons. LeBron James last night reasserted his claim on the title of best basketball player on planet earth.
Sure, the Northeast Ohio-native desperately wanted to fulfill his promise of winning Cleveland its first major sports title in 52 years. But Game Seven, and much of the series, looked like LeBron James reminding everyone who forgot about him that he plays as this era’s Michael Jordan. This was no mere act of altruism for a long-suffering sports town. This was a competitor with a healthy ego out to show the world that he’s still King James, a guy who bows down to no man—especially Steph Curry.
Yes, he came up huge with a triple double, just the third such feat in a Finals Game Seven. But moments rather than the body of work loudly announced that LBJ took this challenge personally.
When LeBron impersonated Darryl Dawkins at the 3:07 mark of the first quarter, Chocolate Thundering the rim on a monster dunk that might have smashed the glass into pieces before the days of shatterproof backboards, he made a statement.
He made another, the clearest one of the game, at 5:06 of the second quarter when he stuffed a shot by Curry. Jawing, with James looking like the instigator, ensued. You didn’t need a lip reader to get the gist of James’s point. He kept making similar points, emphatically.
In the fourth quarter, James stole Curry’s act by nailing a three-pointer after sinking three free throws after a dumb Golden State foul on a LeBron attempt from behind the arc.
With under two minutes left in the game, James stuffed an Andre Iguodala fast-break layup against the glass. That, as much as anything else, won the game.
Remember when James congratulated Curry on winning the MVP by questioning whether he truly played as the most “valuable” player? Curry responded, “I’ve gotten really good at ignoring people.” It was tough for the Golden State guard to ignore the guy who took third place in the 2015-2016 NBA MVP voting last night.
After the 93-89 victory, an emotional James told the viewing audience, “This is what I came back for.” But during the game, it wasn’t all about Cleveland. It was about Steph Curry, too.