Written by Jeremy Bembry at The Undefeated.com
As Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue raised his hands to accept his team’s third consecutive Eastern Conference championship trophy, his excited players gathered around him tight.
J.R. Smith stood front and center, rubbing his hands and the trophy. Kyrie Irving stood just behind his coach.
And where was LeBron James during this celebration? James stood way in the back, somewhat detached from the group. It was likely an attempt not to take the spotlight off his teammates.
But how can you attempt to hide when you — James — are making your seventh straight trip to the NBA Finals? How do you duck the spotlight on the night you pass Michael Jordan to become the all-time leading scorer in NBA playoff history? How do you score 35 points, grab eight rebounds and pass off eight assists and think you can fade to black?
On Thursday night, LeBron James was back. His return came after two games in Cleveland where he played six subpar quarters — a stretch that had fans doubting whether his greatness was, indeed, Jordan-like.
Count that as a minor hiccup, as James was completely dominant in Cleveland’s 135-102 win Thursday night, leading the Cavaliers to the Eastern Conference title again.
Basketball fans get their wish: Golden State vs. Cleveland for a history-making third straight year. LBJ vs. Kevin Durant. Kyrie Irving vs. Steph Curry. The two most dominant teams in the NBA Finals in the rubber game of their series — and both teams are, for the first time entering the Finals, healthy.
“I’m going to be honest, I’m not in the right mind to even talk about Golden State,” James said after he emerged from the Cleveland locker room celebration early Friday morning. “Golden State, they’ve been the best team in our league for the last three seasons, and they added an MVP. That’s all I can give you now.”
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