It's now been six days since the Heat beat the Thunder to win the championship. Six days to cool off from the emotions.
All though the playoffs last year and this, the interwebs were filled with mockups of "Mavaliers", "Windiana", and "OKCLE." Shit, we were even rooting for the Boston Celtics, of all teams. But this year, all that hoping that was so blissfully fulfilled by the Dallas Mavericks in 2011, could not be repeated in 2012.
And to be honest, I guess I'm okay with it now. When Game 2 ended with a blatent no-call on LeBron James fouling Kevin Durant on the baseline, I had a knowing pain in the pit of my stomach. And it didn't let up, even though I still had faith in OKC, for the rest of the series. (Until the third quarter of Game 5, I guess.) When the final buzzer sounded and Miami started celebrating, I expected that I would turn the television off and go on a national media blackout for a few days.
But I didn't. I did what I've always done. Whether it's the Denver Broncos, the Florida Marlins, the Pittsburgh Steelers, or the Boston Celtics, I've always watched the celebration. Absorbed the joy from them. Seethed in self-pity. And put those feelings in a vault. To be uncorked when a Cleveland team finally wins a championship. With the two bottles of $7 "champagne" I still have sitting in my liquor cabinet, bought on a cold October night in 1997.
But this time was a little different. I didn't seethe. I'm sad, for sure, but not angry. It's like a weight was indeed lifted. While I won't go so far as to say I'm anywhere near happy for LeBron James, I can say that I do pity him a little bit. He can proclaim all he wants that his title is "earned, not given" through his t-shirt messaging. But we know what it was. He had to take a shortcut to a title. And even (I'm sure) it feels good to be a champion, even he has to know, deep in his soul, how much better it would be had he finished his job in Cleveland. The job he professed to have. Because he would have been a legend forever. Statues, streets, and schools would have been named after him. That kind of love will never replicate itself in South Beach.
But I can appreciate his performance in the Finals.I'll admit, they were a joy to watch. James played otherworldly, like Cleveland fans had seen before. Durant showed in Game 1 how dominant he can be. But we have a team in Cleveland. A team led by a spectacular young guard named Kyrie Irving, soon to be joined by another high pick. And that gives us hope for the future.