A man who kept his promise to his state, his city and his team
It was one of the greatest Game 7’s in NBA history; almost mystical. LeBron James kept his promise to his state of Ohio, his city of Cleveland, and to his Cleveland Cavaliers’ team and organization.
James brought Cleveland back from a 3-1 NBA Finals deficit. No team in NBA history has accomplished that. LeBron brought pride back to the city of Cleveland, its first Cleveland championship in professional sports since 1964, when the legendary Jim Brown brought the NFL title to the city of Cleveland.
On the championship trophy presentation platform, James stood with the legendary Bill Russell, the man for whom the NBA Finals MVP trophy is rightly named. And we should not forget Cavaliers’ African American Head Coach Tyronn Lue, the third youngest winningest coach, from a place called Mexico, Missouri. As commentators are pointing out, this Black coach, Ty Lue, outcoached the White coach. Lue is special: two rings as a player, and now the first one as head coach.
Sadly, it remains difficult for Black coaches in the NBA, the NFL, and MLB to be allowed to show their competency and ability to win. Indeed, as we pointed out in this column a month ago, we’re concerned that Blacks are being quietly eliminated from the ranks of head coaches.
But in this seven game series, no one but God himself could have stopped James in one of the most magnificent performances in the history of professional basketball, carrying on from the play of such legendary players as Russell, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, and Magic Johnson.
Throughout the season, James displayed his strength and mental toughness: two games with 41 points each in comeback games five and six; a Triple Double in Game seven. James was much maligned and disrespected when he left Cleveland for Miami and was again maligned and disrespected when he returned home to Cleveland from Miami. Tough and resilient, he has delivered championships to both cities.
As with James, so too with Coach Lue, as he demonstrated that if an African American is given the opportunity to be hired, put together a plan, and be allowed to exercise his plan, and not be interfered with — no matter what the sport — African American coaches can prevail, can win, and can show that the sons and daughters of the African understand and exercise the importance of hard work, discipline, and winning.
History shall not be able to turn its back on LeBron James. All across the country we hear “LeBron, LeBron, LeBron: You’re the man.” He kept his word. He got the job done. They won.
There used to be a saying dripping with racism that whenever a Black person excelled, too many sports writers and other commentators would say he was a credit to his race. But they are more than that. Just as Muhammad Ali, they are a credit to the human race, not just the Black race. How blessed it is that within days of the passing of Muhammad Ali, the man above granted total and absolute joy to Ohio and Cleveland, through the actions of LeBron James, Ty Lue and company, enabling them to achieve what others said was impossible.
I hope you saw what I saw. I saw the hand of Muhammad Ali on the shoulder of LeBron James, making sure that the legacy of Black excellence will continue to have a place in the history books of success for as long as we can remember; for we, the sons and daughters of the African, are blessed.
Thank you, LeBron. Thank you, Ty. Thank you, Muhammad Ali. Thank you, Dan Gilbert.