Cavaliers end over 50 years of Cleveland sports heartbreak with first NBA championship

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OAKLAND, Calif. — These are the moments that create legends. In Game 7 of the Finals on Sunday night, the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers were tied inside the final minute of one of the great games in the history of the league, on the grandest of stages.

And with one flick of his wrist, Kyrie Irving not only launched himself into the annals of history, but he also smashed a 52-year curse.

Irving’s three-pointer with 53 seconds left lifted the Cavaliers to a 93-89 victory in front of a stunned sellout crowd inside Oracle Arena, ending the city of Cleveland’s 52-year championship drought and making the Cavaliers the first team to recover from a three-games-to-one deficit in NBA Finals history.

“History was made tonight,” Irving said. “This was one for the books. Literally one for the books.”

After Stephen Curry had missed a pull-up three-pointer with 1 minute 14 seconds remaining, Irving found himself isolated on the right side of the court as the shot clock wound down. Irving, the definition of a tough-shot maker, rose up and drained the three — giving Cleveland the lead for good.

Curry — who wound up going 6 for 19, including 4 for 14 from three-point range, for 17 points in an underwhelming performance — then came down and missed another shot with 30.7 seconds to go, sending the ball back to Irving, who finished with 26 points, and the Cavaliers. And after Irving drove to the rim and had his initial shot blocked by Andre Iguodala, he found a cutting LeBron James coming down the lane.

James was fouled hard by Draymond Green, landing hard on his right arm and — at least at first — appearing to be too injured to continue. But he eventually got up and, after missing the first free throw, drained the second to complete a triple-double of 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists along with three blocks — including a ridiculous chase-down block of Iguodala to prevent a go-ahead layup with 1:50 remaining.

James was a unanimous choice for his third Finals MVP, to go along with his third championship, after playing all but 71 seconds of the decisive game. It was the final act James needed to complete the promise he brought to the city when, after being born 40 miles south in Akron, Ohio, he was drafted first overall by the Cavaliers 13 years ago.

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