LeBron James Enters Basketball Immortality With “The Cramp Game”
Every superstar NBA player has that defining moment in the NBA Finals where they overcome adversity to lead their team a step closer to the Holy Grail. Michael Jordan had “The Flu Game” in 1997 and Willis Reed had a torn muscle in his thigh back in 1970. There have been others including Paul Pierce’s 2008 Game 1 injury that found him carried off the court only to return and spark the Celtics to a big victory and eventually see them become NBA champs.
LeBron James found himself in a similar situation during Game 4 of the NBA Finals when James collapsed with a leg cramp midway through the 4th quarter with his team entrenched in a tug of war with Oklahoma City. Somehow, James was able to knock down a flat footed floater that broke a tie with five minutes left to play. The injury was severe enough for James to be carried to the bench as the Heat fans collectively gasped at the prospect of James being sidelined at such a huge moment in the game.
It wasn’t like Reed’s injury that knocked him completely out of game six, but it was bad enough to keep him out during a crucial moment in the game. James would gulp down a bottle of Gatorade and be stretched out before he found himself back on the court in noticable pain. That’s when James sucked it up and became clutch when nobody thought he could be that guy.
With the game hanging in the balance and Russell Westbrook going ape on the other end of the floor, James stepped up and knocked down a huge 3-pointer with 2:51 left that gave the Heat the lead once and for all.
It was impressive and now the Heat are standing on the doorstep of an NBA championship. It was a career defining moment for James, who has spent the past twelve months being ridiculed for being unable to step up when the game is on the line. No, it wasn’t as impressive as Jordan going crazy with a fever but for James it will be remembered as the night where he went from stat stuffer to bonafide superstar.
One more game to go and James will finally no longer be the ringless king.