The Cleveland Cavaliers had their backs against the wall trailing the Golden State Warriors 3-1, when Cavaliers superstar LeBron James went into clutch mode, averaging 41 points, 12 rebounds, 9 assists, 3.5 steals and 3 blocks in the past two games to force a Game 7 Sunday night at Oracle Arena. Cavs beat writer Chris Haynes said he’s never seen James play so well and credits it to him embracing the villain role.
“This guy has taken on the dark side, and I mean that literally,” Haynes told The Jim Rome Show on Friday. “He came out to practice sporting a black Undertaker tee shirt. Then he went in Game 5, he doesn’t like the Cavaliers’ black sleeve jerseys. He doesn’t like the fit, but he made the call for the team to wear the black sleeve jerseys for Game 5, and ended up getting the win, and then last night coming out to the Undertaker music.”
Haynes said James has had enough of the praise for back-to-back league MVP Stephen Curry and is on a mission to prove who is really the best player on the planet.
“All the accolades, the praise everybody trying to promote Stephen Curry as this heavenly father of the league, while he’s saying hey man I’m still here,” Haynes said. “We know that LeBron James in Miami didn’t live up to that villain roll. Well, he couldn’t perform under that type of a stage and under that type of outlook, and so he went away from it, and I think right now he’s realizing that hey I’m not going to be as beloved and endeared as Steph Curry is, so let me take a different path. And right now, I wrote he’s selling his inner dark side and it’s all about attacking Stephen Curry.
“Of course he wants to win a title, but hey he has a vendetta against that dude, and you can tell by every time he swats one of Stephen Curry’s shot to the stand and he lets him hear about it, this guy is on a mission, team wise, and individually wise.”
Haynes said it was evident James and the Cavs are inside Curry’s head after his Game 6 ejection.
“That was the point they realized they’re getting at him. They’re getting at him as a team, and LeBron James is getting at superstar to superstar,” Haynes said. “And with every blocked shot LeBron James gets on him, that’s his way of not verbally saying it, but that’s his way of demonstrating, hey little guy, you’re not on my level, this is still my league no matter who wants to anointed you face of the NBA. So I think that was the point where they finally saw him lose it and you could see that in every way, in every facet of the game.
“They beat the Warriors to a pulp. And it started from start to finish.”