By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — LeBron James, Cleveland’s prodigal son, delivered on his promise to bring a championship to the city after a 52-year drought.
Completing the first-ever comeback from a 3-games-to-1 deficit in the NBA Finals to win his third NBA Championship, his first with the Cavaliers, James ended up with just the third triple-double in the history of Game 7 in the NBA Finals with 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. He also did it against the Golden State Warriors, who blew their bid to enter the conversation for “Greatest NBA Team In History” with their shocking Finals collapse.
He also made a block for the ages on the Warriors’ Andre Iguodala with the game tied and under two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, a play that should go down as one of the single greatest defensive plays in NBA history.
Just one thing, though: the big game-winning shot that ultimately sealed the victory for the Cavs came off the hands of not James, but his teammate Kyrie Irving.
So, naturally, James’ many critics and detractors pointed to Irving’s big-time basket – and James’ relative lack of big shots in playoff wins – in a futile attempt to discredit No. 23’s impact on the Cavs’ improbable comeback.
98.5 The Sports Hub’s Chief LeBron James Fault-Finder Tony Massarotti led the charge, tweeting this mere minutes (seconds?) after the clock ran out and the Cavs charged the floor to celebrate:
Mazz, however, was not alone. According to a slew of hot-takers on Twitter, James needs to make literally every big play all the time. Or that Irving just deserves more credit for making what was ultimately the game-winning shot in what was an outstanding series for James’ second-in-command.
Fittingly, WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche had perhaps the fairest and most reasonable take of anyone on Twitter last night.
Yes, it was Irving who made the final big shot that won the championship for the Cavs. But the play would not have been possible without James’ block that occurred just a minute prior to it, and James had simply taken over the series from Game 5 on. And James also deserves credit for making the final free throw of the game to put the Cavs up four points with ten seconds left and essentially icing the game.
It may be harsh to discredit the amazing things that James did throughout the Cavs’ comeback, but it would also be unfair to Irving not to give him the credit he deserves for making the big shot when it really, really, really counted.
So, it’s time to cast your vote. Boiling the NBA Finals down to just the final two minutes of Game 7, who deserves more credit: Irving for making the big shot, or James for setting up the game-winning shot with the block heard ’round the world?
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. His opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at email@example.com.