They were so, so close. Less than one quarter away from the NBA Finals, really. Had the Boston Celtics just held onto that lead in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat, history would have been different. But it wasn't, and as a result, LeBron James and the Heat were the last ones standing.
One day later, we're already going to play the what-if game. Going into the NBA Finals, most expected the Oklahoma City Thunder to dominate, or at least put up a much better fight than they did. Instead, LeBron rose to the occasion, and the Heat proved that they really were the best team in the league this year.
First, congratulations LeBron. You are a champion. We all knew this day would come. That doesn't stop it from hurting, though. After all, one man's triumph is another man's affliction.
So many people were rooting for you to fail, LeBron. At times, it seemed liked the entire country was against you. Plenty of fan bases were against you, hated you, and just wanted to see you fall flat on your face. I'm not even talking about a certain city in the northernmost part of Ohio, either.
For the LeBron haters, this championship stung, but it may have hurt even more for the Celtics.
You don't have to tell the Celtics how close they came to achieving their ultimate goal. I can only imagine what was running through their minds as they watched LeBron step onto that stage, accept the NBA Finals MVP award from Bill Russell and cherish the Larry O'Brien trophy.
That could have been -- no, should have been -- us. We let the quitter, the traitor win. We failed.
Of course, there's no guarantee that the Celtics would have beaten the Thunder had they prevailed in Game 7 against the Heat, but given the big role that experience played in winning this title, it stings even more. Without question, the Thunder would have had the best player on the court in Kevin Durant. It looked like Oklahoma City did have the best player coming into the series, and they might still have the best player. That just goes to show how valuable experience is.
LeBron had been there before, and failed twice. Not this time. He came, he saw, he conquered.
There's no doubt that this experience will ultimately serve well for Durant and the Thunder. Hey, just look how losing in the Finals worked out for LeBron. Oklahoma City will be back, and in time, they too will bask in the winner's circle. Unfortunately, the same may not be true for these Celtics.
This was probably it for the Big Three, as we have all known for so long. It's so incredibly hard to just get to the Eastern Conference Finals, let alone win it. Who knows if this aged veteran squad will ever have a chance like that again? Chances are they will not, and that's truly a shame.
As glorious as this moment surely is for LeBron and Miami, it is equally agonizing for the Celtics.
They came so close, five wins away, but they failed, and they will have to live with that forever.