The Prodigal Son

I was so excited for Game 7 the night before I couldn't sleep. It seems stupid now. I, half a world away and unable to watch it live, tossing and turning and dreaming non-stop nonsense, losing sleep over a game that doesn't involve me nor any of my friends or family or even any towns I've ever lived in. John Maynard Keynes once predicted that our society would advance to a point where we would have more leisure time than ​we know​ what to do with. ​I suppose the existence of billion dollar sports and entertainment empires validates his hypothesis. Most of us in the first world no longer worry about food or shelter or having to do hard labor just to survive. And voilĂ , there I was, losing sleep out of excitement over a game.​

In the morning I fired up the NBA app on my Nexus and strategically covered every portion of the tablet with my blanket except the small "replay" button beneath the scoreboard. Yes, I practiced this spoiler-free technique the night before. Then I watched it "live", strapped in to the roller coaster, no idea who would win or lose, uncognizant of who the heroes or the zeroes would be.


The Greatest Block of All Time

I rooted for Cleveland pretty much for the same reason I rooted for Miami in 2013. What a gift it is to observe the arc of a transcendent talent. LeBron James has achieved a level of greatness that I think has at least equaled Michael Jordan's, and in many ways, surpassed it. Utter sacrilege, perhaps, but LeBron plays in a more competitive league these days, buttressed by advanced data and training regimens and just flat out better athletes all around. Witness what happened when he left Cleveland initially - they went from a Finals contender to a lottery team. After he left Miami, the Heat couldn't get past the 2nd round of a diluted Eastern Conference. Wherever he goes, the team becomes an instant contender. Wherever he leaves, his vacuum creates a black hole the team falls into. Remove Steph Curry from Golden State and the Warriors are still probably a top 3 team. Remove LeBron James and the city which he leaves collapses into agony and all the attendant stages of grief thereafter.

No other player looms over the league like the Leviathan that is LeBron James. Cleveland just beat a Golden State team who made a case for being the best ever. They had three all-stars, two of whom are probably the two best shooters of all time and a third a credible mini-me version of LeBron. And they beat them after basically being beaten a week ago, down 3-1 and facing odds that historically speaking was literally zero. LeBron didn't have to do this. He could have stayed in Miami with more firepower and existing chemistry. He probably would have won more easily. But he chose to go home to the rust-belt town where he grew up, a destination inherently unattractive for star free-agents unless there was the gravitational attraction of playing with The King. For those that complained he did it the easy way in Miami, well, now he did it the really-damn-hard way in Cleveland. No reliable side-kick. No hall-of-fame coach. No history or culture of winning. Versus a team that broke records. Coming back from 3-1 down. Bending the basketball universe to his will, shifting the power equation to his side, and using it to uplift his roots and his compadres. All eyes on him, all criticisms and complaints, all shouldered like Atlas. Once in a generation greatness. The story of LeBron James inspires me to write like few other. We are all witnesses indeed.

Cavalier fans celebrating at a viewing party

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