LeBron James immortalised himself in Cleveland folklore when he drove the Cavaliers to their first ever NBA title in their 46-year history on Sunday.
He did it by helping his team do something that has never been done in the NBA before: coming back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA finals. Not to mention, he did it against the reigning NBA champions and 73-win regular season record setters, the Golden State Warriors.
James picked up the Finals MVP award by unanimous vote for producing an average stat line of 29.7 points, 8.9 assists, 11.3 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 2.3 blocks to show what an all-encompassing world-class player he is. He also led all players on both teams in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks in the Finals.
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His affinity for his hometown franchise has never waned, even after the four-year sabbatical he took in Miami. James promised to bring a championship to Cleveland one day, and he did it.
Jim Brown is considered one of the greatest running backs to ever play American Football and he spent his entire eight-year career with the Cleveland Browns, only winning his sole championship in his penultimate season.
King James is about to enjoy the same luminary status that Brown does, but the Cavs No. 23 has invited the 80-year-old back to Cleveland from his Los Angeles home to be a part of the city's celebrations.
“LeBron has given me a lot of respect, and it hasn’t gone by my ears and eyes," Brown said. This young man has recognised me as a part of that family, and I’m so happy to go back and show my respect and to enjoy this and show how much we appreciate it and to wave to those fans.”
Brown thinks this extraordinary triumph will reverberate around the city and his beloved Browns can take strength from the victory.
“It’ll be a tremendous lift for everything about Cleveland and its sports teams,” Brown said. “I think if you’re a Cleveland Brown and you watch the courage of these young men and you see the fact that they never gave up and they worked together and overcame, there’s no way that you can be ordinary after watching this example of greatness. I’m so happy that there’s going to be a spillover into every aspect, I think, of the city of Cleveland.
“What LeBron and the Cavaliers did was come from down 3-1 and won the championship and took it to a different level against a team that just set the record [with 73 regular-season wins]. That’s greatness to me.”
Brown will be honoured in the autumn with the unveiling of a statue outside FirstEnergy Stadium, and he believes that James deserves a similar recognition outside of the Quicken Loans Arena, the Cavaliers' home.
“[Cavs owner Dan] Gilbert is going to give him a statue. He’d better give him a statue,” Brown said, chuckling. “That young man put out so much blood, sweat and tears it’s unbelievable. He gave up his life. He could’ve had a heart attack he was playing so hard. So they’d better give him a statue. That’s the least they could do."
After witnessing the inhuman feats James exhibited during these Finals, it's damn hard to argue with the NFL legend.