LeBron James’ block. Kyrie Irving’s 3-pointer. Kevin Love’s defense.
Three moments that wiped a 52-year slate of misery clean.
Still, The Block, The Shot and The Stop aren’t what saved the day.
Instead, Irving’s most critical contribution was the result of something for which he isn’t exactly known. Something for which he has even been criticized.
With a title in the balance, the clock winding down and with Stephen Curry and the 73-win Golden State Warriors within striking distance at 92-89, Irving passed.
Or as James later put it: “Kyrie delivered.”
With around 13 seconds remaining and the ball in No. 2’s hands, the Cavs needed one more basket — just one more point. The Warriors had not lost three straight games all season. A 3-point deficit with 13 seconds left? That’s where Curry and his comrades flourish.
With the taller Klay Thompson defending near the top of the key, Irving made his move. He put his head down and drove to the right side of the basket with the even larger Draymond Green nearby.
Curry raced from the right side, closing in on Irving, who leaped toward the basket. Thompson, now slightly behind Irving but within reach, jumped higher to block the shot. Green converged quickly from the left underneath the hoop.
With the Warriors’ three best players on him, Irving spotted an uncovered James barreling into the lane, holding out his hands in a gesture that called for the ball. In midair, Irving turned his body and flipped the ball to the man with two championship rings.
Here it was in all its glory on the biggest stage there is. The sort of play we dreamed of when James came home to hoop it up with Irving.
James was open long enough to take a step and rise above Green at the rim.
But in Northeast Ohio, indeed everything needs to be earned.
James and Green crashed to the court.
While Irving helped Green back to his feet, James rolled on the floor in what looked to be serious pain, clutching the right wrist he used to brace his fall. It took him a minute-and-a-half to get to the line.
James’ 66.1 percent free-throw shooting in the 2016 NBA playoffs was the lowest in his career — 8.5 percentage points lower than his career average over 199 games.
Now he needed to make one of two free throws to ice the game, making a fist with his hand as if willing strength back into it.
Like the dunk before it, James’ first free throw ricocheted off the back of the rim.
James clenched a fist again, adjusted his “I Promise” band and rattled the second attempt — the one that made Irving’s final pass of the season so sweet — in.
The rest is history.
Irving’s last-gasp pass may not go down in NBA Finals lore, but it was a championship play. When it mattered most, he delivered.
Even though it wasn’t a bucket. Uncle Drew approves.
"Cleveland, This Is For You" — What it means for Cleveland to end its 52-year drought.
Like Many, Scott Raab Wasn't Expecting The Cavs To Become Champions — The writer has carried around Cleveland sports torture, until now.
Clevelanders No Longer Have To Say "What If?" — The Cavaliers make the city believe again after a long championship drought.