The street is virtually empty. Only the maintenance crews remain, working feverishly to clear the confetti, plastic flags and assorted trash from the cool asphalt. It is mid-June and the Cleveland Cavaliers have just celebrated their first NBA Championship with a parade fit for champions.
LeBron James, the Finals MVP, hoisted the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy amid a cacophonic backdrop of cheering fans and blaring hip-hop music.
Surrounded by his team, Coach Mike Brown beamed as he thanked the fans for their continued support.
"Finally," he said, clutching the coveted golden ball in his hands, "this trophy is where it belongs."
While it may be presumptuous to plan out the coach's victory speech, Brown will most certainly be the coach giving the speech. He was rightfully honored as the NBA Coach of the Year this season, after turning GM Danny Ferry's brainchild into a perennial contender. with a clean sweep in the first round of the playoffs. The Pistons had no answer for King James, and his staggering numbers prove it.
James attempted just under 15 free throws a game, and had an outstanding five-to-one assist/turnover ratio throughout the four game series. He also stole the ball and blocked and deflected shots, showing why he was also runner-up for the Defensive Player of the Year award this season to boot.
More than anything, James has shown this season that he is one of the best leaders the game has ever seen. He is not afraid to take the game into his own hands and do whatever it takes to win ballgames.
With James playing the way he is, Cleveland is an unstoppable force. While the Lakers may have been the favorite coming into the playoffs, their first-round series against the Jazz was much harder than the box scores and victory in five games portrays.
Based on their loss to the Rockets in the opening game of their second round series Monday night, it doesn't appear that things are going to get any easier, even after coming back with victories in Games 2 and 3.
A key piece of LA's puzzle, center Andrew Bynum, has been a shell of himself since his return from injury, averaging a measly five points and three rebounds a game in the Utah series. Although he has been slightly more productive so far in the second round, his effectiveness has been limited, as the Rockets have allowed Kobe Bryant to run free while containing everybody else on the Lakers.
Should they beat the Rockets, the Lakers will most likely face a Denver squad that is arguably playing the second best basketball of any team right now. While Denver has an easier road than the Lakers or the Rockets and should advance to the Western Conference Finals, with LeBron leading the way on both ends of the court, the Cavaliers' stingy perimeter defense will be more than enough to slow Denver's high-powered offense.
In terms of the Cavaliers own road to the finals, in Games 1, 2 and 3 of their second-round series, they have blown out an Atlanta Hawks team with one of the best frontcourts in the NBA in Josh Smith and Al Horford, a star in Joe Johnson and a veteran All-Star point guard in Mike Bibby. After that, they will face either Orlando or Boston, both of whom the Cavs match up very favorably against.
Although they had the best record in the NBA, the Cavaliers were not the consensus favorite heading into the playoffs.
While the other teams were struggling through tough first-round series that saw players injured and fatigued, Cleveland was waiting patiently.
When all is said and done, LeBron James will have bested his rival Kobe Bryant by winning a championship in the same year he was crowned MVP.
When all is said and done, the city of Cleveland will finally be able to hold its head high in the arena of sports.
And when all is said and done, the Cavaliers' "One Goal" credo will have been achieved, and the King will have his trophy and ring.