The last 11 months in sports have been exceptionally good for wild finishes in championship games. The NCAA Tournament was won on a last-second shot. The NBA Finals went seven games and down to the final minute. The World Series went seven games and the seventh needed 10 innings to end 108 years of heartbreak. The NCAA football title game was won in the last second. And Sunday's Super Bowl was the first ever to go to overtime and end on sudden death.
The winners of one of those epic games, the Cleveland Cavalieres, are in town to face the Wizards on Monday night, offering LeBron James and company to offer their thoughts and draw comparisons to what they were able to do last June against the Golden State Warriors, coming back from being down 3-1 in the series to win it all, to what the New England Patriots did in the Super Bowl.
Naturally, they see some similarities.
"The game ain’t over til it’s over," James said. "You gotta play the game out and as a fan watching the game you see the ups and downs. But, you seen the momentum start to change a little bit when they was able to get that first score, so I never counted him out."
"I know with the Patriots and our team, we have greats. Having LeBron James on your team, Kyrie who is great and then having a Tom Brady and one of the best coaches of all time in all sports [in Bill Belichick], you just got to have that belief," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue, who watched the game at the MGM with several players, said.
"Being down 3-1 where no team in NBA history has ever come back from in an NBA Finals and then I think the largest lead [overcome] in a Super Bowl was 10 and they were down 25. And to come back being down 19 to start the fourth quarter, I mean, everyone counted them out. They counted us out the same exact way and for those guys to come back and win was just unbelievable."
The comparisons between LeBron and Brady are not lost on LeBron himself. He said he has a mutual respect for the Patriots' legend.
"I just see greatness in Brady. He’s very calm. He’s very calm, no matter the situation, no matter the situation, no matter what was going on throughout the game. He’s just very calm. Worrying about what the next play was, worrying about making the next completion," James explained. "Just keeping his guys mentally focused on the job at hand. You’ve got to have that. You’ve got to have a sense of calm when everything else and everybody else is erratic, you’ve got to have a sense of calmness about you as the leader because your troops see that. When they see that, then they feel good about themselves."
With all of those comebacks, is it now en vogue - maybe even preferable - to have the odds stacked against you with a championship on the line? Not quite.
"I don’t know. I guess you’d rather have a lead than not have a lead," James said. "Just look at what’s been going on in our major sports, let’s just say it’s been great for the fans."