Actually, words seem pretty inadequate to describe what it is I just saw. You probably had to be there. Or at least paying close attention on TV. I know that's not very helpful and my purpose here is to be your eyes and ears and other senses for you.
But what can I say. Yes, I watched. And yes, I'll always remember it. But no, I'm going to gush for a while and I hope you'll get a sense of what happened, but it will all seem inadequate compared with what I saw.
The way he threw down both those dunks at the end of regulation, as if no one was guarding him. As if he was moving at normal speed in a slo-mo world. Then there was that shot in the first overtime. He took the ball, ran around two defenders, popped up and launched an off-balance shot as he drifted sideways and away from the basket. His mind calculated all the moving parts in a flash and placed the ball on just the right arc to rattle home in the bottom of the basket. And then he kept doing it until he didn't have to do it any more and could finally rest.
Watching replays of that shot, the one that really signaled that something singular was underway, I actually had tears come to my eyes. Yes I did, just a little bit. This was long before the game was decided, but that shot was so incredibly beautiful, coming as it did at that time and for this team, the emotions just welled up and my vision blurred so fast I didn't realize what had happened.
I think it's because I was, emotionally, a complete wreck from the fourth quarter on. It was incredibly stressful, more so than any Michigan game has been or, probably, could be. With Michigan, I'm conditioned to expect good things in big games. When it's a team from Cleveland serving as my proxy warriors, the story is a bit different.
And things like that just don't happen for us. Or at least, they didn't.
See, being a Cleveland fan means waiting for yet another shoe to drop, no matter how many have clunked to the ground already, taking your heart along for the ride.
And that's part of what made the events of Thursday night, May 31, so utterly, incredibly surreal for me. A player for a Cleveland team _ yes, Cleveland _ utterly and completely refused to give in, refused to allow all the bad things to happen to us. He turned our tormentors into the tormented. I now understand why small, put-upon nations so lionize generals who somehow rout an invader, even if they ultimately lose the war. The hope they bring lasts long after the blood soaks in to the battlefield.
Yeah, about that. The big picture. The Cavaliers are still one win away from the NBA Finals _ a place they've never been before. This pooch is still highly screwable, and yes, if it's going to be done, some team from Cleveland is a nice bet to do so. But ... no.
That game. That performance. These words don't describe what it was. I'm typing them, and it's like I'm trying to produce Shakespeare in shadows on a cave wall for you. It was such a display of iron will and sheer refusal to accept for anything but a desired result. I'm sure if I thought about it and not too hard, I could remember some other performances like that I've seen. But not one of them was on my behalf. No one's ever had that kind of thunderclap, defining performance for us before. Until now.
So what of it then? I don't know. I almost wanted to wait until after the series to write this. But in my coup de foudre buzz, I couldn't hold back. In a couple days we'll know if the light show we saw tonight was really the rainbow after the flood or just the flash from a meteorite burning up.
We'll know, in other words, if we really are all witnesses.