Last night, two bitter rivals came together for an epic battle that we’ve been building toward for months — and it was every bit the thrilling bloodbath we’d been hoping for. Tears were shed. An instant classic was born.
We’re talking about Game 7 of the NBA Finals, of course, where LeBron James led his Cleveland Cavaliers to a historic victory, becoming the first NBA team to ever rally back from a 3-1 series hole, stunning the Warriors in front of their hometown crowd. But yeah, we’re also talking about that equally-awesome Game of Thrones episode “Battle of the Bastards,” when those underdog Starks finally pushed back against the Bolton army to take their revenge after years’ worth of torment.
Basically, no matter what you were watching, TV definitely wasn’t lacking for drama Sunday night. So, in honour of both epic winner-take-all showdowns, we broke down the NBA’s very own Bastard Bowl below.
Game 7 versus Game of Thrones
Just in case ending Cleveland’s 52-year title drought wasn’t enough excitement for you for one night, the climactic NBA game had to go up against the penultimate episode of Season 6 of Game of Thrones — historically, the biggest (or at least bloodiest) of the season. Which small-screen event fans should/would watch first was a debate that divided the Internet: catch the game and brave the potential spoilers, or get your Thrones fix and miss out on the possibility of seeing LeBron and co. make history. Thankfully, neither heavily hyped throwdown disappointed. But if you’re looking for the biggest bastard of them all, it’s not Jon Snow or Ramsay Bolton or even Draymond Green… It’s whichever “genius” in the league office scheduled Game 7 for Sunday night at 8 PM.
Bring out the conspiracy theorists
When Ayesha Curry tweeted that the NBA Finals were rigged after Game 6, she was just saying what a lot of Warriors (and NBA) fans were already thinking. And get ready for those cries to get a whole lot louder after a game that had everything fans want to see in a thrilling Game 7: ticky-tack fouls against superstars, questionable calls, and accusations from a former disgraced referee. …Hooray? In reality, last night’s game ultimately came down to a third straight otherworldly performance from LeBron, Kevin Love finally remembering how to play basketball (Kevin Love!), and the Splash Brothers crashing back down to Earth. But these NBA Finals pitted fans who believe in curses against fans who believe in conspiracy theories, and while neither one had any discernable effect on the outcome of the series as far as we can tell, you can bet that neither side is going to shut up about it for the next week and a half.
Who did Dan Gilbert sacrifice to make this happen?
Speaking of curses, if you told us that Cavs owner Dan Gilbert went full-Red Woman mode to ensure a victory for his team Sunday night, we wouldn’t not believe you. Because we’re not really sure how else to explain the fact that Cleveland’s five decade-long title drought has finally been lifted (well, apart from that whole “LeBron going off” thing). Plus, when you think about it, Gilbert and Game of Thrones’ Melisandre actually have a lot in common. Sure, one prefers Comic Sans as his weapon of choice, while the other prefers demon shadow babies, but they both defied all odds to bring back the North’s (or at least Northern Ohio’s) prodigal son. And no matter what, the fans will always love them for that. Hey, maybe when Clevelanders were burning their LeBron jerseys all those years ago, they were actually just praying to the Lord of Light.
The demise of King James was greatly exaggerated
In hindsight, James’ return to the top of the NBA food chain was about as obvious as Jon Snow’s comeback in May, but you’d be forgiven for expecting these Finals to be the official passing of the torch as Steph Curry took his rightful place atop the NBA’s iron throne as the peoples’ superstar. Instead, some of the sheen started to wear off Curry this series as his seemingly unlimited reserve of threes dried up at the worst possible time, and he hurled his mouthpiece at a fan in Game 6, earning the first ejection of his career. Meanwhile, LeBron James went into berserker mode the past three games, leading both teams in every major category – points, rebounds, assists, steals, withering post-block staredowns – on his way to earning unanimous Finals MVP honors. But James didn’t just win his third ring in seven tries on Sunday night, he also effectively rewrote his legacy by making good on his promise to bring an NBA title to The ‘Land, going from “LeBaby” (or if you prefer, “LeBitch”) to legend status. LeBron James, First of His Name, the Unguardable, Breaker of Curses, Father of Three. So to all those out there who thought King James’ reign was over? Continue to underestimate him at your peril.
The Cavs finally got to exorcise their demons
If you’re looking for a convenient narrative to describe the Cavaliers’ epic comeback, turns out “Battle of the Bastards” works pretty perfectly. Because heading into these Finals, the Cavs were serious underdogs going up against the Warriors and the specter of their historic 73-win season. Not to mention, this was the very same team that had driven then off their home court just last year. So, much like Jon Snow and Sansa, LeBron and the Cavs entered Sunday night facing long odds and old demons; outgunned, outnumbered, and going up against an unhinged maniac with a strange fixation on going after other people’s family jewels. But after an exhausting back-and-forth battle, where it felt like both teams were running out of gas in the final minutes, both Starks and Cavs got their long-awaited revenge on their former tormentors Sunday night, and victory had to taste especially sweet. So go ahead and smirk, LeBron. You earned it. Now it’s time to unfurl those banners. The King has come home.