So this is it.
The Cavaliers' championship reign is now over. Golden State captured their second NBA crown in the last three years after taking Game 5, 129-120, on Monday night.
In the aftermath of the Wine and Gold's painful abdication of their throne as champions, LeBron James was a lot more positive than I thought he would be. "I have no reason to put my head down. I have no reason to look back at what I could have done or what I shouldn't have done or what I could have done better for the team. I left everything I had out on the floor every single game for five games in this Finals, and you come up short," he told reporters.
James scored 41 points in the loss, adding 13 rebounds and 8 assists. He became the first player in the long history of the NBA Finals to average a triple-double, posting averages of 33.6 points, 12.0 rebounds and 10.0 assists in the five-game series. He was just brilliant this entire postseason.
But don't take my word for it, see what Kyrie Irving thinks of his teammate's performance:
Kyrie Irving's a student of the game.
So what happens now for the Cavaliers? Because as much as one might want to dwell on how Game 5 went awry after the no-call on Kevin Durant during James' 2nd quarter dunk, or the 21-2 run by the Warriors that followed, or the defensive breakdowns. People want to know what LeBron thinks about the future of the Cavs and if they can get back next year and take back the title.
"I need to sit down and figure this thing out," LeBron said when asked how he views the Warriors going forward. "They're going to be around for a while. Pretty much all their guys are in their 20s. Pretty much all their big-name guys are in their 20s, and they don't show any signs of slowing down."
"I'm not the GM of the team," LeBron continued. "I'm not in the front office, but I know our front office is going to continue to try to put our ball club, put our franchise in a position where we can compete for a championship year in and year out."
Ah yes, the elephant in the room. Who will be the General Manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers next season? David Griffin, the architect of this run to three straight Eastern Conference titles and one NBA Championship, is essentially a free agent. His contract expires at the end of this month. Although the Cavaliers have denied other teams permission to talk to Griffin, they haven't seemed in a hurry to lock him up, either.
Whomever is the GM of this team going forward, they're going to have to figure out a way to reshape a roster that is top-heavy on salaries. James, Irving, Kevin Love, and Tristan Thompson are all max players. J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert are each making more than $10 million dollars per season. It will be no easy task.
But in the meantime, I tip my cap to LeBron and the Cavaliers for being worthy champions and defending their crown until the end. It's one thing to just say the Cavs are good enough to walk through the East, it's another thing to do it. It was a new experience for all of us to be the hunted. Now the Wine and Gold are the hunters again.