Winning is the decisive and definitive goal in sports. And winning “It All,” aka, winning the championship, is at the top of the list of things to do for all athletes everywhere. But I submit that it’s not just if you win, it’s how you win. And LeBron James and his new sidekick, Matthew Dellavedova, are showing the sports world how to win.
Before Sunday night, the narrative for the NBA Finals was essentially that the Cavs didn’t stand a chance against Stephen Curry and Co. with Irving sidelined for the rest of the series. Yet after LeBron James let out an emphatic roar following the “emotional win,” you get a much different feeling. There’s reason to believe the script has been flipped.
Fueled by a gritty defensive performance from backup point guard Matthew Dellavedova, Cleveland’s beloved “Delly,” the Cavs showed resolve and willpower that the Warriors were lacking. And that’s how you win. To get the glory you’ve got to have, and spill, some guts. Winning takes courage and vigor and valor and that’s what the Cavs have, especially in the person of the fill in point guard, Matthew Dellavedova, who almost got cut from the team early in the season.
“I doubt this will happen again,” Curry said after the loss and an uncharacteristically ugly performance — 5-for-23 from the field, 2-for-15 from three-point range and 0-for-8 against Delly. It’d be too easy to label it a bad shooting night for the league’s MVP. But you’ve also got to give Delly his due.
Dellavedova has played lights-out defense on Curry and you have to wonder how much of it is Curry not shooting well or Delly “doing the do” on the MVP of the League, a shooting Don. And because of Delly, an unsung, come out of nowhere hero, the Cavs are going into Game 4 in Cleveland with serious momentum.
Can the Cavs win the NBA title without Kyrie Irving, their All-Star PG? You betcha. LeBron scored 44 points in Game 1 and had a triple-double (39 points, 16 rebounds, 11 assists) to will Cleveland to victory in Game 2. Does James need to play at this level for his team to win two more games? Yes. But he’s been playing the alpha dog (increased shots) role all playoffs, as Irving was far from 100% and Kevin Love got sidelined. Now there is no Big Three. This is James and a band of brothers that anywhere else would be a motley crew of castaways; rugged, rustic, role players at best – and not an all-star in the lot of ‘em.
But there’s something about this group — their grit and fire — that championship teams must have. How many times have we seen the more talented team get beat by the hungrier, more determined one? Plenty.
Maybe it’s the playing-with-nothing-to-lose aggressiveness or odds-against-us approach that re-instilled a fiery engine in the Cavs’ psyche. Maybe Irving’s gutsy Game 1 performance and subsequent injury provided necessary inspiration a la “Remember the Titans” sans Gerry Bertier.
And so clearly, the lesson is this: are you playing pretty and sassy and cute and cheeky or are you playing forceful and feisty? Jesus did. Yes He did. Jesus lived like everything was on the line. What our Lord did for us on Calvary was not pretty at all. It was all guts, and it led to His glory.
So, are you playing not to lose or are you playing to win? And are you mad enough to win? http: //godandsports.net/?s=Mad+enough+to+win Are you gutsy enough when it matters most? To get it done, sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind and play like, and live like, everything is on the line.
Because it is.