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Cleveland Wins NBA Finals Game Seven. They're Champions

LeBron is finally home with the trophy.

20/06/2016 12:40 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:54 PM AEST
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Finally, I'm home.

It went down to the wire. Because of course it went down to the wire. Game Seven of the NBA Finals was a thrilling affair. The lead changed more than 20 times. But in the end, Cleveland won, 93-89. They actually won.

For the first time in 52 years, a major sports title is going to Cleveland. The Ohio city on the southern shores of Lake Erie with a population of two million has three teams in America's major sports leagues. There are the Browns (NFL), the Indians (baseball) and the Cavs.

Finally, one of them is bringing a trophy home. And it's all thanks to LeBron James, the 203cm Ohio native who played the first eight seasons of his decorated NBA career at the Cavs. When he departed for the Miami Heat in 2010 in a much-hyped and slightly grotesque one-hour TV special called "The Decision", locals turned on him.

But the 31-year-old returned in 2014 and has now brought home the NBA trophy.

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You get the feeling he's going to carry those things all the way from California to Cleveland.

"I set out a goal when I came back to bring a championship to this city," James said after the game. "I gave it everything I had, I poured my heart, my blood, my sweat, my tears into this game."

The Cavaliers are the first team to reverse a 3-1 deficit in the NBA's best-of-seven finals series. For that, they can thank 24-year-old Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving, whose jump shots were incredible in game seven and who, for the record, was born in a little place called Melbourne, Australia.

James was named MVP for the finals. It was a unanimous and correct decision, though in some respects, he didn't have his best night. Though inspirational in defense, he and the other marquee player in the game -- Golden State's Steph Curry -- seemed to lose their signature moves.

LeBron missed a dunk late in the final quarter, then was fouled on his way back to earth. He missed a free throw after he missed the dunk. He was tough and willing and imposing as ever, but once or twice his execution was a little off. Was that missed dunk a bad omen?

Meanwhile Golden State's two-time MVP Steph Curry couldn't find the hoop from three-point range or from anywhere towards the end of the game. On one shot he missed the basket entirely and thumped himself six times in the head as though to say "wake up!".

The Golden State Warriors had the best regular season of any team in history this year, winning 73 games and losing just nine. Curry's shooting was a huge part of that. At times it seemed he couldn't miss from long range. Earlier this year, teammates were celebrating his shots before they even reached their target. Was his waywardness an omen too?

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Nope, just wouldn't drop.

In the end it was. The absence of another Melbourne product no doubt played a part too. Warriors big man Andrew Bogut went down with a knee injury earlier this finals series. What Curry would have done to have his big body out there giving him some shooting space.

Meanwhile another Victorian in the Cavaliers' Matthew Dellavedova is now an NBA champion. "Delly" didn't have his best finals series and was left out of the last two games. But he's got a ring.

LeBron James has four now. When asked why this championship felt different to the two he won with the Miami Heat, James gave an answer which would made Cleveland roar so loud you could hear it in Canada.

"I'm home," he said.

Cleveland is now "Believeland". That's the title of a doco about the city's hard-bitten fans, and how they never stopped believing. Now we know why.

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