LeBron James is the best basketball player in the world.
It took a lot for me to utter that sentence — for years I have been a LeBron critic, dating back to 2003 when he came out of high school — but with everything I witnessed during the NBA Finals, it’s undeniable.
If you think it’s Golden State’s Steph Curry, you’re wrong.
Sunday night, LeBron put together one of the most spectacular stat lines in a finals Game 7: 27 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, three blocks and two steals.
Game 7 was poetry in motion from start to finish, tightly contested with twists and turns until the end.
The 6-foot-8, 249-pound freight train couldn’t be stopped on any end of the floor.
While it was Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving that sunk the go-ahead 3-pointer with 53 seconds left, it’s James’ chase-down block with two minutes left on a layup by the Warriors’ 2015 finals MVP, Andre Iguodala, that will be replayed for years to come.
James took off from just inside the free-throw line on that block, keeping the game tied at 89 and holding on to all the momentum.
With 10 seconds left James, who seemingly never gets hurt, went down the hardest I’ve seen in months after a foul by Draymond Green sent him to the hardwood.
For a few minutes, it didn’t look like he was getting up.
Then, silencing the critics who questioned his clutch gene, he made one of two free throws to put the game out of reach with a four-point lead.
After the final horn, there wasn’t a dry eye on the Cavs’ side.
You saw how much James wanted this for Cleveland, a city that hadn’t won a championship in professional sports since 1964.
I can only imagine what it was like on the streets of Cleveland on Sunday night and early Monday morning.
The only place that would go crazier is Buffalo.
If the Buffalo Bills or Sabres win a championship, prepare for Armageddon.
Huddled into a ball on the court, surrounded by press and teammates, James wept.
What else could he do?
Everything he aimed for from the beginning of his career came to fruition.
“This is why I came home,” LeBron said.
Never before had a team come back from being down 3-1 in a finals series to win it all.
On top of that, they beat a Golden State Warriors team that finished with the most wins (73) ever in a regular season.
Curry, the unanimous MVP of the regular season, got shut down by Irving and company.
James made the MVP voters look ridiculous for not throwing him a few votes.
However, the 2015-16 Warriors are the best team to not win a championship.
I try not get into the Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James argument.
The 90s were a much different time in basketball, good or bad.
I will put this statistic out there though: At age 31, Jordan had three rings and three MVPs.
LeBron, the same age, now has three titles and four MVPs.
Savor this finals series. We might not see another one like it in our lifetime.
Jordan Morey is the sports editor for The Tribune. Send comments to [email protected].