LeBron James, Kendrick Perkins

USA Today Images

End Of An Era?

Tonight is Game 4 of the NBA Finals and it could be the last game in Cleveland for a legend.

June 08, 2018 - 9:56 am
Categories: 

Tonight is Game 4 of the NBA Finals and it could be the last game in Cleveland for a legend. Someone who entered the league a teen, straight out of high school and who would grow into an NBA champion. A man who didn’t just wear a jersey with the name of the city on the front, he reshaped the city and the nation’s view of that city. Just know this; if he leaves Cleveland, he has left his mark on Cleveland. There will be two Cleveland’s, the one before him and the one after him.

I am, of course, talking about Kendrick Perkins. Just when you think that Kendrick Perkins couldn’t top jawing with Drake, he jawed with Steph Curry. And just when you thought he couldn’t top that, he dropped a series of legendary quotes about it, like “Might want to choose that [expletive] wisely, man, [rather] than [bleeping] with me. I don’t think I’m the problem that they want”

The same Kendrick Perkins who did this on Wednesday night, according to The Athletic: On his way out of the arena, Kendrick Perkins stopped in the hallway and stuck his head in the interview room to see who was at the podium. When he saw it was Kevin Durant, Perk saluted him — with two middle fingers raised high over his massive frame. Without saying a word, he turned away and continued heading for the exit.

And the same Kendrick Perkins who is featured in this legendary tweet from Chris Haynes: Kendrick Perkins to ESPN on Kevin Durant’s Game 3 performance: “Man, KD. I want to beat him, but he’s just a mother******.” That’s Perk issuing a compliment.

That is a compliment and that is awesome. And if this is the end for Perk in C-town, then it truly is a dark day. Oh, this also might be LeBron’s last game in Cleveland, so I should probably talk about that as well. Because it could be the end of an era. The end of a time where Cleveland was no longer the butt of every joke and the laughingstock of the country. Not just in sports, but in everything. 

People didn’t really mock Chicago as a city before MJ. Same with LA and Magic, Boston and Larry. Sure, each city had its detractors and some for very good reasons, but it they weren’t Cleveland. Nobody was running burning river smack at Chicago or LA or Boston. But they were for Cleveland, until LeBron.

So if this is the end, it’s only natural to look back and try to pick out a favorite moment or two. And if you’re looking for one moment, I’m going to quote George Hill, who was asked earlier this season about his one LeBron moment and he said, “bleep, one play? I can’t sum it up in one play.”

How many holy bleep moments has he had? Not in his career, just since coming back to Cleveland. There’s the return, the homecoming. That was pretty cool. 

So was coming back from down 3-1.                                                           

So was the chasedown block of Andre Iguodala

Going off the backboard less than 48 hours ago.

The connection with Aaron Miller, and if you don’t know that one, look it up. It’s worth it.

Bringing a title to Cleveland will probably never be topped in terms of sheer accomplishment. Not just the feat of somehow winning a title in Cleveland, but coming back from down 3-1. Against a 73-win team. And winning two of the games on the road. That was unreal. 

But this playoff run, surrounded by this group of slugs he has to run with, isn’t far behind. This looked like it would end in the first round, but he wouldn’t let it. And it looked like it would end in the Eastern Conference Finals, but he wouldn’t let it. And if somehow, someone from 10 days in the future returned and told me the Cavs won this title in seven, based on everything I’ve seen from LeBron in these playoffs, I can’t say I’d be surprised.

It would be insanity, but there have already been so many moments of insanity. Game 7 vs. Indiana, the Game 3 game-winner vs. Toronto, dragging the Cavs back from down 0-2 against Boston, Game 7 vs. Boston, 51 against the Warriors in Game 1. And after every single one of them, you have to remind yourself that he’s doing this in his 15th season, after leading the league in minutes. And he’s doing it virtually by himself. 

Not so, you say. He’s got teammates. Right. Kevin Love has been banged up, but he’s contributed when he’s been out there. But look at the rest of that group. J. R. Swish and Jeff Green probably aren’t heading to the Hall of Fame anytime soon.  

There’s something fascinating about this postseason, because they probably shouldn’t be here, and LeBron’s playing some of the best basketball of his career, and it will very likely end in a sweep. And the way he has dealt with it publicly, has been incredibly noble. 

So if it is the end of his time in Cleveland, nobody in Cleveland can complain. He brought them a ring and did everything he could to bring them more. If he wants to go somewhere else, he’s earned it and it should be with their blessing; without anyone freaking out, or burning anything. Even if means Cleveland goes back to being Cleveland the second this series ends.