When the buzzer sounded and the clock struck 0.0, Cleveland Cavaliers fans around the world rejoiced. Finally, their team won. Gone for a moment was the feeling of failure and being the butt of every sports joke imaginable. For a moment, Cavaliers fans were able to inhale the stench of a championship. LeBron James, overcome by emotion, knelt down on the baseline, trying to comprehend what just happened. But the main question on every one’s mind is this…does Anderson Varejão get a ring, or nah?
This is a serious question, probably the biggest one in the aftermath of a classic Game 7. Varejão played for the Cavaliers from 2004 all the way until he was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers, who released him. He signed with the Golden State Warriors after clearing waivers. When the Warriors defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals, Varejão became the first player to ever compete with both NBA Finals-bound teams in the same season.
Now, we have a dilemma on our hands. Apparently, it’s up to Cavs owner Dan Gilbert to decide if Varejão’s love and 12 years of commitment to Cleveland was enough for a ring. Well, Twitter thinks Varejão knew he was getting a ring, given his Game 7 performance:
Guess someone forgot to tell Varejão the Copa América quarterfinals were Saturday and that he was in the NBA Finals. But what about his little snafu with James in the first quarter? What was that all about? With 4.4 seconds left in the first, James picks up a foul and Varejão stands in his way, forcing James to elbow his way through his former teammate.
It appeared as though Varejão was trying to play mind games with James. Maybe not the smartest move if you’re trying to ensure you get a ring if the Cavaliers won, but nonetheless, it was in poor taste, given the history between James and Varejão. When Varejão was traded, James said it was the worst part of the business. “You lose a brother,” James told Cleveland.com. “You lose a teammate.”
It wasn’t like Varejão left on bad terms either. The decision to trade him away was to improve the franchise with the addition of Channing Fyre. Varejão loved Cleveland, and Cleveland loved Varejão back. When James left for Miami, Varejão stayed. When the Cavaliers needed someone to toss their body around and hustle for a play, Varejão did that. When Varejão learned he was being traded away he wrote this to the fans:
“There is nothing like walking on the streets on a freezing cold day and hearing fans scream your name, then stopping to talk to those same fans. There is nothing like looking into the crowd and seeing over 20,000 people wearing wigs to match your hair. That’s a feeling I will cherish for the rest of my life and never forget. The city of Cleveland is truly a special place… Home is where the heart is, and my heart will forever be in Cleveland.”
Varejão wasn’t lying about his heart forever being in Cleveland, because statistically, the Warriors were outscored 47.5 points per 100 in Game 7 and a defensive rating of 125.8 points per 100 with Varejão on the floor. So in essence, Varejão did help Cleveland clinch Game 7. The fix was in! Ayesha Curry was right! Someone get an investigation going into the NBA and Adam Silver! Put an asterisk on Cleveland’s title!
Conspiracy theories aside, it would be nice to see Varejão get a ring, but that’s up to LeBron James…I mean, uh, Dan Gilbert.
Update 06/20/16, 3:45 p.m.: This post has been update to clarify how Varejão was signed to the Golden State Warriors.