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The Winners and Losers of Game 6

LeBron’s masterpiece, Ayesha Dark Thirty, and a truly insane NBA Finals game

Getty Images/Ringer illustration
Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Winners

LeBron James

The simple truth is that LeBron is Sisyphus, and Cleveland is the boulder. He has clamped a rope between his teeth and pulled clown cars full of feeble dipshits wearing Cavs jerseys into the Finals for years, decades, centuries now; this year’s model includes beloved Panera Bread spokesman Matthew Dellavedova and Iman Shumpert, who has minor accuracy issues. You’d watch James beat the Pistons or the Bulls or (briefly) the Magic with both arms and a dozen useless teammates tied behind his back, and you’d feel both electrified and really, really bad for him. He deserved to leave. The Cavs deserved to watch him leave.

And now here’s another ludicrous game full of parallel-to-the-floor dunks and brutally nonchalant passes and blocks that make you want to throw your couch into your television. It is so hard as a Cavs fan not to pivot from jubilation directly into Ambient Cleveland Dread, to fear the worst on Sunday night — the sort of world-historical citywide defeatism that leads people like me to commission images like this, just to be ready when the shit goes down. The only real way to avoid that path is Total Distraction: Maybe just this on a loop until tipoff. We can do this. We can watch him do this. At his most transcendent, it feels like there’s no difference at all. Rob Harvilla

Tristan Thompson

Tristan Thompson played a perfect game. He might never play a more perfect game of basketball in his life. He dismantled the Warriors in the 3–5 pick-and-roll with LeBron. He made reads while rolling to the basket that he’d never made before — if you were to tell me that he was hooked to marionette strings operated by LeBron’s telekinesis, I’d much sooner believe that than believe in Thompson suddenly dropping Draymond dimes of his own volition. He played nearly 43 minutes and maintained a game-high plus-minus of plus-32. He caught everything, he dunked everything, and he never stopped screaming. With his singular gift for suctioning boards on the offensive glass, it’s easy to pigeonhole him as a player who gets going only when the game is ugly. But possessions don’t need to be revived when your team shoots nearly 52 percent from the field and you go 6-for-6 yourself. Thompson has exuded a chameleonic quality in the series. The Cavs were beautiful tonight. So was he. Danny Chau

Cavs Veteran Bench Mob

It was a good night to be an aging basketball player with close ties to LeBron James. Most of this season, it’s felt as if the primary value of the Cavs’ old-man bench mob — Dahntay Jones, Mo Williams, James Jones, and Richard Jefferson (combined age: 138) — has been their company. They’re there because LeBron wants them to be there. They’re on the payroll so LeBron has someone to talk to about the Godfather trilogy. Or his Kia. Dahntay Jones is very good at working out and wearing suits; Mo Williams is a great prop for photos. None of them are that good at basketball anymore, so they’ve been marshaled as evidence against LeBron as general manager. Which, sure: LeBron has made some questionable personnel decisions. But then Jefferson puts up a plus-15, and yooo Dahntay Jones mean-mugs and flexes his way through five minutes, three made free throws, and a block. James Jones, human victory cigar, takes (and misses) a 3. But they’re not here to light the world on fire; they’re here to do the mop-up work. They are the old men at your pickup game, and they just hip-checked the Warriors in the solar plexus. Sam Schube

Losers

Ayesha Curry

Ayesha Curry briefly transformed into the Seymour Hersh of the NBA on Thursday night. She claimed they didn’t let her cousin into a Cleveland casino because he was wearing Dubs gear. They made the Warriors family bus wait outside the game until almost tipoff. And they tossed Steph at the end of Game 6 because they wanted a Game 7. Who are they? [*cough* TheDisneyNBAAntiGameofThronesLobby *cough*] EXACTLY. Ayesha deleted the rigged-league tweet shortly after posting it, and then alleged that her frustration came from police racially profiling her father at the game. Whatever happened, she’s not going quietly. Chris Ryan

Andre Iguodala

Steve Kerr was basically like, "Oh, does your back hurt? I’LL TELL YOU ABOUT BACK PAIN. GO GUARD LEBRON." Tough beat for Iggy. He could barely pull himself off the ground at certain points. — C.R.

The Dude Who Got Pegged by Steph’s Mouthguard

Paid to sit courtside to an NBA Finals game, got a front-row seat for Steph Curry’s ref-induced meltdown (though why he’s out there jumping in front of LeBron with five fouls is beyond me) in the bargain. Was gonna be a winner for having a decent reaction to the whole thing, but then turned out to be the kind of guy who would go to an Erlich Bachman incubator party.

Loser. — C.R.

The Mouthguard

From $5,000 biological artifact to weaponized Cavs fan ninja star in just moments.