Did Cleveland alter the careers of Jordan and Lebron?

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Lebron James and Michael JordanCleveland, the abyss of the professional sports teams.  A place where great players and coaches are more often than not hidden on bad teams before opting to go elsewhere in search of greater glory.    In baseball during the 80’s there was Joe Carter and later Manny Ramirez.  Both went on to play key roles in championships with other clubs.  In football Cleveland was so bad that even Bill Belichick couldn’t win there as he compiled a not so impressive 36-44 record during his five-year tenure as the Browns’ head coach during the early to mid 90’s.  Everyone knows what he’s done with the New England Patriots.  And then there’s basketball.  Lebron James was a homegrown prodigy who was deemed the savior of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the successor to an NBA legend.  For the most part Lebron carried his own and lived up to the hype as the “Chosen One,” but his inability to get bad Cavs’ teams over the hump in the playoffs and his subsequent decision to abandon them for safer ground has threatened to tarnish his legacy.  But what about Michael Jordan?  No, “His Airness” never played for the Cavaliers but he did play in Cleveland, and there was one particular game that catapulted him into the legend that he would become.

The year was 1989.  Jordan had been in the NBA for six seasons and despite multiple playoff appearances he had yet to get the Chicago Bulls past the second round.   It was Game 5 in the first round of the NBA playoffs.  It was a best of five series back then and after Michael and the Bulls took a commanding two games to one lead, the Cavaliers tied the series at 2-2 and forced a Game 5 in Cleveland.

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Like the Bulls 108-105 overtime loss to the Cavs in Game 4, the outcome of Game 5 would hang in the balance with just seconds remaining.    Jordan hit a jumper with six seconds on the clock to give the Bulls a one point lead.  Chicago’s elation quickly turned to deflation as Craig Ehlo scored immediately for the Cavs on a lay-up with just three seconds left.  For Bulls’ fans, it seemed as if the basketball season would again end in disappointment.  But Jordan had other plans.

Jim Durham made the call over Bulls Radio –

“The inbounds pass comes in to Jordan…Good! The Bulls win it! They win it!”  Jordan had hit a floating jumper over the defending Ehlo as time expired.  He finished with forty-four points in the game.

Jordan and the Bulls would go on to beat the New York Knicks in the conference semifinals before falling to the Detroit Pistons in the conference finals.  Despite the Bulls eventual playoff dismissal, “The Shot” Jordan made against the Cavs to propel the Bulls into the second round would later prove to be one of those magical moments in time when greatness was born.  Jordan would go on to win six NBA titles and arguably would have won eight had it not have been for his premature retirement following the tragic death of his father.

Two megastar players, one team, two different directions.  For Jordan, the Cavaliers created NBA royalty.  As for Lebron James, the Cavaliers created NBA public enemy number one.  Luckily for James, the beauty of life and professional sports is that time heals all wounds and winning cures everything.  So if Lebron can string together three or four championship runs over the next five years or so all will be soon be forgotten.

As for the answer as to whether or not Cleveland altered the careers of Michael Jordan and Lebron James; it’s an astounding Yes. But with that said, like Jordan, James has control of his ultimate destiny and I would like to believe that when it’s all said and done he’ll go down in NBA history as one of the Top 5 greatest players of all-time and have the championship pedigree to support it.  He might want to get a move on it however as he is currently 0-2 in the NBA finals. Only time will tell.

Aaron Moon is the CEO and a Featured Journalist for The Sports Blitz. You can contact Aaron on Facebook or follow him on Twitter @DA_Bear_Truth.

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