It is the stuff of legend and champions, as LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers made the statement Friday that they would not be going quietly into the NBA playoffs elimination night.

In the Cavs’ epic 109-99 Game 6 victory over Boston to force a deciding Game 7, the 2016 champions showed the Celtics it ain’t over until it’s over. All of which means, as the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors square off tonight for Game 6 of their Western Conference Finals, that the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals will be decided Sunday in Boston.

There’s a lot to criticize James for — and many of us still sting at the memory of his ill-considered navel-gazing “The Decision” back in 2010, when he fled to the warmer climates literally and figuratively of the Miami Heat. However, for any fan of basketball, there is nothing but respect for last night’s effort, which puts James in the vaulted company of Wilt Chamberlain, the last player to record a fourth 40 points and more plus 10 or more rebounds in an elimination game as James did Friday.

All of which is great news for ESPN in a playoff series that has been a ratings slam-dunk in an era when even live sports have been taking a beating. Scoring a 6.0 in metered-market results on the Disney-owned sports cabler, last night’s Cavs-Celtics game was the No. 1 show on either cable or broadcast. While comparisons to the 2017 ECF are lacking — that Cavs-Celtics battle only went to a Cleveland-winning Game 5 — last night was the best rating a ECF or WCF Game 6 ESPN has seen since 2012.

If that doesn’t smell enough like victory to you, then consider that Friday’s Game 6 was up nearly 6% from the series’ Game 5 on May 23, which also topped that night.

Overall, the 2018 ECF is up a very solid 21% over the 2017 series – remember, this is in a time when the NFL, the Olympics and almost everything else on TV with the exception of Game of Thrones and the Roseanne revival is seeing slumping numbers.

With that, we will update with the rest of last night’s ratings for the Champions finale on NBC, the now-canceled Quantico on its new night on ABC, and more later.