I am one of the biggest, die-hard, analytic, stat-tracking sports followers as they come. I’m not the type that will go and buy season tickets, but that’s because I prefer to watch games at my house: no traffic, no driving, people I actually want to be around, no unnecessary crowd fights, no lines for food and drinks, I just like my home setup.
On the contrary, my fandom and sports writing has completely turned off my wife from everything sports related. I toned down my spectating a little bit by cutting out baseball (still get the updates) and only a couple of NBA games per week, but I sure do watch as much NFL as I can from start to end. Oh, and of course the WWE. I watched The Shield debut, was in that large group of people that thought they would all be stars, and I watched last night’s main event where all 3 guys held the title in one night. For the record, my wife cannot stand a minute of wrestling, thinks that there are too many basketball games, and gets overwhelmed by NFL coverage. I love it!
Well, the highest-rated game in the NBA Finals since Michael Jordan’s last shot for the Chicago Bulls, included a group of party people, marginal basketball fans, and my wife of all people. It was about an hour before tip-off, we had just gotten home from the beach. We’re sitting outside watching the dog roll in the grass, eating refreshing mangoes, and then I shared my excitement for game 7 with her for the next 10 minutes. I just wanted to share my increasing adrenaline with someone, even if I wasn’t going to meet up with any other basketball fans for this particular game. It was a day off that we had together, but a night that we usually do our food prep for the week, in which we did.
So I’m giving her the scoop of this game 7, and she’s not totally out of the loop, it’s always on the TV and I’m alway sharing this stuff with her or talking about it around her. In a nutshell, this is how I prefaced game 7 and how historic it would be:
LeBron James has been the best player on the planet for over a decade. He was so great that his high school games were even televised. Cleveland isn’t a place accustomed to winning, in professional sports that is. LeBron was born and raised in Ohio, was nicknamed King James, was the first pick in the draft to play for his hometown team. The knock on LeBron is that he’s only 2-4 in The Finals, but I mean, if one guy can win it all without much help then a lot more great individual players would have a ring (Allen Iverson, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, etc.). LeBron is a player that does everything great. He left Cleveland to join a better culture and to give himself a chance to win the championship. After 4 years in Miami he won 2 titles, but was given heat (pun intended) for joining 2 other all-star players. It turned him into a villian and he was ridiculed for losing in 2 of those 4 years. Yet, the same media and non-LeBron fans fail to mention how he, pretty much singlehandedly, carried the Cavs to The Finals despite getting swept by a better team.
Then LeBron made his homecoming back to Cleveland and he’s become the hometown hero, again. He led them to The Finals last year where they lost to the Warriors, who are trying to repeat, so now they’re looking for revenge. They were just down 3-1 and no team has ever come back from that to win a championship. What’s great is that he just scored 41 points in back-to-back games. On top of that, he leads all players from both teams in all the major stats. Even when he lost to the Warriors last year, he probably should have won Finals MVP, that’s how great he played. Then I went on to tell her about former player, Ty Lue, taking over as a first-time head coach in the middle of the season. How Steve Kerr won it all in his first season, broke his own Bulls’ record this year by going 73-9, how he used to live near us and even where his son went to high school. The story of Steph Curry. Filled her in on who Draymond Green was. I was a pretty happy guy that just left the beach, and my wife is just soaking up this information.
I sold her to the point of watching the 4th quarter so I’ll take it! That’s definitely a win in my book. It’s probably my fault for being glued to every little sports thing but what the hell, that’s who I am. I crave it, I’m competitive, I coached and I still play. We’re eating dinner during the end of the 3rd, finished at some point during the 4th, and she was all about it.
Her: “LeBron is doing everything and nobody’s helping him.”
Me: “Well, yeah babe, he can’t lose this game and if he does, he’s gotta go down fighting like no other. This is his life and legacy.”
Now, I get that it wasn’t the prettiest ending as the defense from both teams locked down. It wasn’t until after the game that I saw on Twitter, the Warriors didn’t score in the last 4:25. Needless to say, she knew I was rooting for LeBron and the Cavs. I was animated, she was happy to watch the storybook event, and she was happy for LeBron too. I just hate overreactions and misguided mass criticisms. You don’t have to like someone to appreciate them. I had to ignore some texts during the game about LeBron’s passiveness or mistakes that he made through 3 quarters. I was glued, watching everything between the lines, and if he went all out he could have had a triple double in the first half. He played the minutes, shared the ball, and his teammates did enough to enter the final quarter of the season within 1 point of the defending champs on their court where they rarely lose. This was the first game of the series that was close from start to finish!
Game 7 was a big deal for many basketball reasons, for the ratings, which all led to a historic night in sports. There were so many little storylines in this series. It was cool that my wife wanted to watch by my side and be part of the moment! When a non-fan or casual fan soaks it all in (like the gift of Jericho, man), a moment that you know is going to be great, and then the action lives up to the hype, it’s a special thing and it’s memorable! From the LeBron block to Kyrie’s late 3 and the Cav’s clutch defense. We watched all of the postgame coverage, she was still into it, and then I channeled my adrenaline by watching the end of WWE’s Money in the Bank!