Until nearly a decade or so ago, you couldn't call me anything more than a casual NBA fan. And I will put a strong emphasis on casual. Sure, I sort of followed the Cleveland Cavaliers as a kid, claiming them as my team and even going to a few of their games. Albeit I sat in the nosebleed section, but I didn't really get into the sport hardcore until I got caught up in the tidal wave that was LeBron James.
I distinctly remember watching the draft lottery and seeing the Cavaliers win it in 2003 after tanking the season away. When their name came up as the top pick, I jumped off my couch with joy and began proclaiming to all that could hear that the rings would be flowing to “my” team now!
After that came the years of hardcore basketball watching, memorizing of every nuance of the game, the enjoyment of consistently winning, and the slowly widening pool of frustration as Cleveland — again and again — made poor offseason moves that kept them from winning it all.
Like most Cavaliers fans, I was a LeBron James apologist. I gave him a pass for every playoff defeat, blaming the organization or the refs or even that I forgot to wear my lucky socks. Hell, he could have stood in the middle of a deciding Game 7 and took a crap on the court, literally, and I would have said it was not his fault.
Then came 2010, the Decision, and all that goodwill changed in a heartbeat.
When James went to Miami, in the fashion that he did, it was like a sucker punch to the family jewels. It was a public humiliation of the highest magnitude to a fan base that loved and adored him like no other.
So, if you are going to ask me to name my greatest NBA Finals moment, then that's simple. It's when the Dallas Mavericks knocked off the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the 2011 NBA Finals.
Ok, I'll be the first to admit that this is a pretty petty thing to acknowledge, but it is what it is. It's only human nature to want someone that hurt you to go through pain of their own. So seeing the Heat, and their cocky, insufferable, 'Big 3', fail miserably on the biggest stage in basketball — coming so close but just falling short of their goal — well, let's just say it was one of the most satisfying moments in sports that I ever experienced.
The Heat can, and probably will, win a Finals either this year or next and that's OK. Seriously, I don't have a dog in that race anymore — so more power to them. But for that one season, that one series, I wanted…no, Cleveland wanted, nothing more than their former golden child to fall flat on his face.
And he did, in spectacular fashion, thus granting the Cavaliers and their fans a small measure of payback.
James LeBeau is a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports and you can follow him on Twitter @JleBeau76 or subscribe on Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.
Photo Credit: AP