There’s no way to know how you’re going to react when you win an NBA championship. Do you think Dirk Nowitzki thought he was going to start crying and run away from the celebration last year? Me neither. It’s an emotional time — especially if it’s your first title — so guessing at what happens when you finally win is impossible.
The only thing you can know, therefore, is that there is going to be madness. There are bound to be so many people coming from so many places trying to do so many things, that it’s virtually assured that there is general craziness happening after a series-clinching win. And in that madness, things can get misplaced.
Including, as it turns out, the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award. That’s exactly what happened to LeBron James a little less than a week ago. From Lee Jenkins’ absolutely killer Sports Illustrated profile on post-title LeBron:
[After] James retreated to the locker room, where teammates bathed him in a Budweiser–Dom Perignon cocktail, he caught a scare. He couldn’t find his Finals MVP trophy.
“Where’s my trophy?” James hollered, rummaging through his locker. “I left it right here!” He rushed through the tunnel back to the court, where he had to give an interview, but the moment it ended he asked, “Have you seen my trophy? Who took my trophy?” On the way to the press conference, where the MVP trophy was waiting all along, he relaxed a bit. “It’s just an individual award, anyway,” he says. “It’s not the one that matters.” He took the Larry O’Brien trophy from the podium and cradled it like a third son, and when friends offered to help carry it down a hallway, he waved them off.
Oh man, classic “Who moved my trophy?” mishaps right here, when it was on the press conference table all along. Crazy league PR people and their trophy-moving ways. You guys are going to give someone a heart attack.
That had to be the worst feeling ever though. Here’s LeBron James on one of the happiest days of his life, finally fulfilling a prophecy that was given 12 years earlier and doing so in a way that left no doubt that he’s the best basketball player alive, only the physical embody of that triumph is nowhere to be found. Not only that, no one else knows where it is because they’re too busy spraying each other with various liquors and trying to look cool in backwards hats. Is it in the locker? No, of course not. It’s not a pair of shoes. Did he put it in his gym bag? Nope. Again, not shoes. Maybe he left it on the court and Box Out Kid took it? Seems like something he’d try to pull, but I doubt his arms aren’t strong enough to lift something that heavy.
Of course, the whole time it was safely waiting for him to join it at the press conference. All LeBron had to do was check NBA.com’s live stream and he would have seen it, completely alieviating all fears and allowing him to enjoy the celebration instead of trying to find something that should be very hard to lose. That’s why I always keep a computer handy. Just in case.