The Cavs beat the best

 LeBron James in action against the Washington Wizards in 2014. Photograph by Keith Allison.

LeBron James in action against the Washington Wizards in 2014. Photograph by Keith Allison.

Maybe God was compensating Cleveland for having to host the Republican/Trump Convention.

Just kidding.

The Cleveland Cavaliers overcame a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals – the first team to do so – to take the championship from the vaunted Golden State Warriors 93-89. Native son LeBron James was named MVP and will most certainly draw the largest cheers when the team is feted with a parade Wednesday.

As I’ve written in a previous post, the only thing as fascinating as a triumphant underdog is a flawed winner. The Warriors won 73 games in the regular season. Their star, Stephen Curry, was the regular-season MVP. They were a lock, particularly early on in the championship series.

In my previous post on this subject, I explained the relationship between Determinism and sports, indeed between Determinism and all of life: It may have been the Cavs’ strand in the universe to win and the Warriors’ to lose. Cold comfort to Warriors’ fans.

But you don’t have to be Stephen Hawking to see certain forces at work here. While there’s no such thing as the law of averages, it does seem that the more you win, the closer you are to losing. Perhaps there’s more pressure or that winning becomes too familiar and that the effort to attain the same effect – like a drug high – becomes greater.

Then, too, the requirements for regular-season excellence and post-season success are different. To be great in the regular season, you have to be talented and consistent but not particularly good under pressure. There’s always tomorrow. In a short series, you have to be talented and consistent only in the short run. But you do have to be great under pressure. (Oh, the irony: The internet knock on James was always that he underperformed on the big stage. No more.)

Hence the New York Giants and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII and Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic in the 2015 French Open final. It brings to mind what John McEnroe once said in his pursuit of Björn Borg: “It’s not important to be the best. It’s only important to beat the best.”

I’m sure LeBron James would agree.