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An In Depth Look Into the Greatest Night of Television History: LeBron James vs. Game of Thrones

Four years ago, June 19, 2016, in my mind is the greatest night in television history ever since TV became an American staple in the 1950’s.

For those that are wondering and do not remember what happened that night because they live under a rock or don’t celebrate this day as passionately as I do. That night we saw game 7 of the NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors where LeBron James and the Cavs finally won a championship officially erasing a 3-1 series deficit.

And then we were treated to an episode of Game of Thrones. And not just any episode of GOT, it was the Battle of the Bastards. Two events of television that catapulted themselves into our pop culture consciousness forever.

We usually don’t get many mono-culture television episodes. colliding with sporting events. The closest thing I can remember is September 29, 2013 when a Sunday Night Football game between the Patriots and Falcons went head to head against the Breaking Bad finale, but that isn’t even a competition of which event was bigger.

This night however is tougher. How do these two historic and monumental television events stack up to each other? Which one was more important to our lives and overall human history? Let’s discuss.

We are going to break each one down in five categories that will help decipher which of the two events was more impactful. These categories will be:

Weight of Importance That Night

Entertainment Value

Cultural Importance

Historical Relevance

Re-Watchability

Weight of Importance That Night

Game 7

The Cavs and Warriors were meeting in the NBA Finals yet again as this would be the second of four straight meetings in the finals between the Cavs and Warriors.

Lebron had returned to Cleveland with the promise that he would stay there until he brought his hometown a championship. A championship mind you that Cleveland had been waiting 52 years for. The big three of Lebron, Kyrie and Kevin Love trailed in the series 3-1, a deficit no team had ever come back from in an NBA Finals. But yet Lebron put the team on his back and dragged them to a game 7 in Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA.

The Warriors on the other hand had already made NBA history. they went 73-9 during the season, breaking the 1996 Chicago Bulls record. But like the Bulls of ’96 said “Don’t mean a thing without the ring.”

This was possibly one the biggest game seven’s in sports history, right up there with the Cubs and Indians later that same year. A championship starved, sports city crazed city in Cleveland against arguably the greatest basketball team ever assembled.

The only comparison I can come up with is it’s like the 2007 Patriots going up against the Buffalo Bills for the Super Bowl. I know thats impossible but those were the stakes.

Battle of the Bastards

Winterfell was the ancestral home of the Stark family. The proud wardens of the north in Westeros. Over the course of the show however Winterfell and the Starks fell on some tough times. The family was decimated after Ned Stark lost his head, Robb Stark and Catelyn Stark were brutally murdered at a wedding. Arya went missing to become a faceless woman and Bran, a cripple and not yet the Three Eyed Raven lost Winterfell to Theon Greyjoy who bit off more than he could chew. Eventually, Winterfell went to the Bolton’s for their part in helping the Lannisters by murdering the Stark’s and their banner men at the Red Wedding.

Sansa Stark was married off to Ramsey Bolton who was an awful human being. Jon Snow was killed by his own men of the Night’s Watch for a “Wildings Lives Matter” movement. But was then resurrected. He was reunited with an escaped Sansa and they hit the recruiting trail in an attempt to bolster an army to that of Ramsey’s at Winterfell.

This is officially a Lady Mormont Stan blog.

We all knew this episode was coming. It was titled “Battle of the Bastards” it was promoted the entire week leading up to it. We were all hyped for this episode.

Winner: Battle of the Bastards (1-0 BOB)

Here is the reasoning for this decision of which I have labored upon. I remember that night taking my now wife out for dinner and coming back for the second half of the game. It was important yes, but I was willing to miss the first half. However we both wanted to be sure to be back for Game of Thrones. Perhaps I am biased to my own decision making that night but that is what I am basing this winner off of. That I was willing to miss part of the basketball game but not Game of Thrones. We all understood how important this episode was going to be.

Entertainment Value

Game 7

An NBA playoff game is a ton of fun and full of entertainment. Especially with this one that seemingly had big play after big play for both sides. I even remember my girlfriend at the time, now my wife. Asking me if we could go watch Game of Thrones yet and I kept saying sure but give me like 5 more minutes to see if someone pulls away. And no one really did. Big plays at the end, real stakes on the line, makes for great entertainment.

Battle of the Bastards

Game of Thrones was the definition of entertainment. Never mind what you felt about the finale season it was still a piece of mono-culture that we all enjoyed. And honestly this episode was incredibly entertaining. The stakes at play, and the battle for Winterfell itself was so incredible that it completely overshadowed the first 15 minutes of dragons burning down an entire fleet of ships. Did you forget about that? Yeah sort of a weird thing to throw in the first 15 minutes, should of been a bigger deal but got totally overshadowed.

The ace in the hole however for Battle of the Bastards is that It earned Game of Thrones six Primetime Emmy Awards, making it the most Emmy Award-winning episode ever. It also had a viewership of 7.66 million in just its initial broadcast. It also has a 9.9 rating on IMDB.

Winner: Battle of the Bastards (2-0 BOB)

Just too entertaining. The episode itself was incredible, yes game 7 was fun to watch and we couldn’t take our eyeballs off of it but Battle of the Bastards has the awards to prove how entertaining it was.

Cultural Importance

Game 7

I think all that needs to be said for game 7 is that “You blew a 3-1 lead” is now sort of a household way of saying “you done messed that up.” Think about it, there have been 3-1 leads blown before. The Red Sox came back from that in the 2007 ALCS over the Indians. The Red Sox even came back from being down 3-0 to the Yankees.

The Warriors themselves came back from a 3-1 series deficit in the Western Conference Finals against the Durant-led Thunder but even that is not as celebrated.

And yet “You blew a 3-0 lead” is not a saying. Since then, 28-3 has also become a somewhat common saying for letting something once thought easily obtainable slip away. But still the fact that coming back from down 3-1 in a series made that much of an impact showed you how important this game truly was.

Battle of the Bastards

This is one of Game of Thrones greatest episodes. It’s one of the best episodes put to the television screen. And for some, again I am saying “some” this may be where Thrones passed Breaking Bad. And sure when you say Battle of the Bastards people know what you’re talking about but this episode in the end did not save Game of Thrones from its ultimate fate.

During the misguided final season when people were grumbling about the show, no one said “Well think back to Battle of the Bastards!”

Winner: Game Seven (2-1 BOB)

The fact that it is commonplace for us to say “they just blew a 3-1 series lead” makes this an easy win for game seven. I’m pretty sure that phrase was even used on Game of Thrones twitter for future episodes for certain characters

Case and point.

Historical Relevance

Game Seven

This game and series I believe is how we will forever remember LeBron James. No matter what he does or doesn’t do with the Lakers, this game is his legacy. This game is what promotes him into the GOAT argument.

Don’t believe me? Even Michael Jordan understood the importance of this game. Because during the Cavs parade for their championship is when MJ finally decided to allow The Last Dance footage to be released.

Michael Jordan even understood what this one meant for LeBron in terms of his place among the NBA greats and he felt threatened. That is how you know this game held paramount importance.

Not only that but immediately after this game, in the locker room, Draymond Green hit the recruiting trail to get Kevin Durant to come to the Golden State Warriors. Forever changing the NBA and how we all view one of the greatest players of this generation in KD.

Battle of the Bastards

Certainly still one of the most entertaining episodes of Game of Thrones. But one can’t help but think did it really matter? Sure they won Winterfell and needed it to fight the army of the dead and white walkers. But without Arya to the rescue they lose that battle anyways. And of course the end of the series kind of just made it seem like the importance of that battle was sort of undercut.

Little Finger comes to the rescue with his Knights of the Vale, and then is killed a season later. Jon Snow finds out he is a Targaryen but yet nothing really comes out of that.

The real only importance of this was that the Starks retook Winterfell, and come series end Sansa stands alone as Queen of the North.

Winner: Game Seven (2-2 Tied)

We were treated to one of the greatest sports documentaries because of this game. And it gives the “LeBron is the GOAT” camp a leg to stand on for the rest of time. This game will not be forgotten any time soon by casual NBA fans where as the Battle of the Bastards is a great episode in itself but in the end doesn’t hold any huge relevance in the future of the show.

Re-Watchability

Game Seven

This one is tough to judge. Obviously watching a game in its entirety, when you already know the outcome is sometimes tough if you are a neutral fan. However you can pick up on little things here and there that you forgot or didn’t notice before. Like the wife and I a few months ago watched Kobe’s final game, and I forgot that down the stretch Kobe absolutely took over the game like vintage Kobe and it brought a new sense of that game to light for me. Or how his final act as a professional basketball player was an assist. Go figure.

In rewatching this game I noticed a few of things.

  1. The Cavs win the title in alternate jerseys with sleeves. Remember when that was a thing? Now its not. I’m fine with that, but still the most important moment of modern Cleveland sports and you’re wearing already outdated, alternate uni’s.

2) I remember to this day, that the 4th quarter was sort of marred by missed shot after missed shot. But after Klay Thompson makes a layup to tie the game at 89-89 with 4:39 left to play nobody scores until Kyrie Irving’s basically game winning three with 53 seconds left to play.

You’re telling me that in one of the greatest games in NBA history, for basically the final four minutes nobody scores? And that Klay Thompson layup is the last bucket of the night for the Warriors. So the greatest offensive team in NBA history goes the final four and a half minutes of game seven without scoring? Absolutely wild!

3) I know everyone loves to hate him, but Draymond Green had an incredible game. He led everyone with 32 points, in 46 minutes, ripped down 15 boards and dished out nine assists. He almost had an unreal triple double in game seven. Had the Warriors won that game, do we think of Draymond Green differently rather than arguably the greatest performance of his career being a footnote? He was also 6-8 from three. Yes I am talking about the very same Draymond Green. Both Curry and Thompson were 6-24 from deep that night. Let that sink in.

4) We all remember his game winning three pointer over Curry but we forget how many ridiculous layups and shots Kyrie hit in that game. I know this is a New England sports blog website, but we have to give Kyrie some credit where he earned it. He was incredible in the second half of this game.

Battle of the Bastards

It’s only an hour long, and it is one of the best battle sequences put to any sort of screen. I’m sorry but I could rewatch this all day every day. I don’t have much to say about this one. Just enjoy the Youtube clip below and you’ll know what I mean.

Winner: Battle of the Bastards (3-2 BOB)

It’s easily rewatchable as long as you have someone’s HBO password. It’s a hour long and yet doesn’t feel like that, compared to the game’s almost two and a half hour run time. There are so many good parts of this episode, from the incredible battle itself, to yelling at Rickon to just zig zag my dude.

Legitimately feeling claustrophobic, and the Knights of the Vale arriving just in time. I love the look on Ramsey’s face when he sees them arrive and realizes he just lost, it’s perfect.

Wun Wun giving his life to Jon’s cause and Jon beating the pulp out of Ramsey

And Ramsey being fed to his own dogs as Sansa finally gets her revenge.

I mean it’s all rewatchable, there is not a single minute of this where you are more enticed to look at your phone than what’s happening on screen.

Winner: Battle of the Bastards

A hard and tough fought victory for Battle of the Bastards winning this matchup 3-2 over Game Seven of the 2016 NBA Finals.

The reasoning for this in my mind was that while game seven has probably stuck with us  in our collective minds longer and perhaps as more important as certain events have played out. Battle of the Bastards, that night of June 19th, 2016 was THE television event and it did not disappoint.

If you disagree with me that’s fine, honestly it was tough to pit these two events against each other. I rather just enjoy what this night truly was. The best night of television in human history.

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Connor Ryan (@connoryan68/@VerbalCommitPod)

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