Silence: LeBron James’ NBA Title Victory Brings Closure to #TeamPetty Movement
It crept up on me over the last couple days.
It started off as a joke, an impossibility. It slowly pooled itself just under the surface of my mind; deep enough to not be concerned with it, but shallow enough to be noticed. After Game 6, it was the emotion I felt most.
Doubt in the Warriors’ chances to actually finish this series and cap off the greatest season in NBA history, doubt in the hatred God apparently had for Cleveland and doubt in my own ability to hate LeBron James any longer.
Since LeBron left the Miami Heat for the much less greener side of Cleveland, I have been a staunch member of #TeamPetty. Being a petty Heat fan was a sport in and of itself. Not becoming one of the fans that were “just grateful” for LeBron’s presence in my city for four years was a source of pride. After rooting for the Heat, the second team we rooted for was whoever LeBron and the Cavs were playing.
Needless to say, we felt comfortable with the Golden State Warriors as our adoptive team – especially up 3-1.
I spoke with my Dad, an extremely anti-Lebron fan, about what he thought was going to happen prior to Game 7.
“I think the Warriors are done, man,” he said. “It doesn’t look very good. LeBron is the best player I have ever seen in my entire life.”
We nodded, in silence, and sipped our beers. His loud, Latin accent echoing off the walls of my barely furnished home made his statement sound like a holy decree.
I got home from a barbecue just in time to catch the midpoint of the first quarter. I plopped myself on the couch and prepared myself for what was surely (I hoped) a solid, easy Warriors win.
I have a weird and annoying habit of watching basketball games on mute. I like doing this so I can actually follow what’s happening live without relying on Mike Breen or whoever to give me play-by-play.
My fiancee knows better than to deal with me during games, and my dog is literally deaf, so I could not have been possibly more alone while watching this game unfold.
So now alone and in quiet (besides the occasional tweet), the only noise to surface came as I cussed out a referee or expressed my frustrations over a stupid play and the ridiculous shots made to nobody in particular (See: Ezeli, Festus).
But, I knew there was one thing I shared in common with soooooo many of the members of the #TeamPetty group.
I started the game with an unwavering, firm defiance against LeBron James.
“Yeah, you’re good, but you CAN’T be this good,” so I thought.
Draymond Green becomes my personal savior during the first half. I thought he was actually made of molten lava at one point. Despite an exemplary performance, the Warriors were up at the half only by seven points.
I made a drink at halftime because I had a feeling I would need it later and I sat down on the same side of my couch ’cause I am a weird, superstitious dude. Hence, I wouldn’t be leaving that spot for the rest of the night.
I barely spoke during the second half. Not because I was tired or concentrating, but because I was trying to take in as much of this game as I could.
Okay, I lied. I did say something when Stephen Curry hit that top-of-the-arc three over Tristan Thompson. It went something like, “holy-f***-what-the-I-don’t-huh-what-my-face.”
Anyway, I became increasingly nervous throughout the fourth quarter. Not for the Warriors, mind you. Screw the Warriors. I found myself nervous for my own “pettiness.” I had cultivated this emotion and bile towards LeBron James for the better part of two years. I had consumed myself with the idea that LeBron ruined his legacy and his career by leaving Miami.
Hell, I identified as a member of a hashtag like the preteens who loved Twilight (#TeamJacob btw).
I wanted that choice to haunt him for the rest of his life. It wasn’t supposed to end after two years. It simply wouldn’t have been fair to me.
I thought my feelings for LeBron James were just as strong and impervious as the Golden State Warriors this year. Essentially, unbeatable. Yet, LeBron beat both of those things into the ground through sheer will and determination (and a clutch Kyrie Irving three-pointer which was total bulls**t, but I digress).
I told myself earlier in the night that if Cleveland won, I wouldn’t watch the postgame celebration because it would make me enraged. Seeing Dan Gilbert happy, which I know will be plastered on every wall in my cell when I die and go to Hell, is something I cannot handle.
I prepared myself with one last ditch effort of defiance and pettiness.
The game sure looked out of hand, but I knew the Warriors had one more shot in them. I hit the menu button on my remote and hovered over the pre-recorded Game of Thrones episode as I watched the Warriors’ final possession on the little screen in the upper right-hand corner of my TV.
My hopes for a Warriors win is about the size of the little window I am watching the game in.
Steph shoots, Steph misses. I drink.
I saw Maureese Speights grab the offensive board and chuck some garbage shot at the rim, and almost immediately, I clicked to switch to Game of Thrones. While some HBO commercial played in my recording, I realized the TV was still on mute and I still haven’t said a word.
It was weird.
Alone in my living room, enveloped by silence, I was able to look back and realize what LeBron James just did.
If you aren’t sure, let me be clear: LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, a notoriously inept franchise, just beat the NBA team that won more games than the ’96 Chicago Bulls on their home court in a Game 7 after being down 3-1 in the series for a championship.
This is real. This happened.
It was at that moment that I realized I witnessed a god damn movie. I was upset because I wanted the Monstars to win? Because I wanted the rich kids in the Sandlot to win, really?
I smiled and shook my head.
It had been so long since I spoken, I had to swallow a few times before I uttered my first words in over an hour.
“F**king Lebron,” I muttered. “He actually did it.”
I sighed and decided to switch back to the game to see the celebration. Before the picture became clear, I pressed the unmute button on my remote. The first noise to escape was the sound of LeBron crying on the ground.
I thought I would be indignant, I thought I would be angry.
Yet, all I felt was….satisfaction? That probably isn’t the right word. I can’t really describe it….I guess, closure?
Yeah, that’s it.
I am not happy for Cleveland and I am not happy for Dan Gilbert. S**t, I don’t even think I’m happy for LeBron.
What I am happy about, however, is that I can move on from this. As a Miami Heat fan, this felt like the closing chapter of the story for me. A respectful nod to the familiar man who did the seemingly impossible.
I am not dumb enough to think #TeamPetty is dead or to claim that we should all get in line to pay adulation for LeBron.
But, at least for a year, myself and the other members of #TeamPetty should have one more thing in common in regards to LeBron James: Silence.
This guest commentary was written by @, a member of the aforementioned Twitter movement known as #TeamPetty