TSX futures point to lower start

A TMX Group sign, the company that runs the Toronto Stock Exchange, is seen in TorontoStock futures pointed to a lower opening for Canada's main stock index on Thursday, with December futures on the S&P TSX index down 0.11 percent at 7.15 a.m. ET. No major economic events are scheduled for Thursday. The Toronto Stock Exchange's S&P/TSX composite index dropped on Wednesday as gold miners' shares fell with bullion prices after the U.S. Federal Reserve offered an upbeat outlook for jobs and ended its stimulative bond-buying program. Dow Jones Industrial Average e-mini futures were down 0.34 percent at 7.15 a.m. ET, while S&P 500 e-mini futures were down 0. …


Athens stock market down 3.6%, bank index plunges 7.3%

A Greek flag waves outside the Athens stock exchange on April 10, 2014. The stock market sank 3.6 percent in early trading October 30 2014 over concern about the state of the economyThe Athens stock market fell 3.6 percent in trading on Thursday, with the banking index plunging 7.3 percent over concern about the state of the Greek economy. The stock market has been under pressure since three Greek banks were found to be short of capital on Sunday under stress tests of eurozone banks by the European Central Bank. Stock in Eurobank was down 7.14 percent and in National Bank of Greece 8.0 percent. Stock in Piraeus Bank was down 5.88 percent.


LeBron James Comes Home…to a City No Longer Contentious, If a Bit Conflicted

Jennifer Burkhart lost her favorite player on her favorite basketball team.   

Local kid at that. 

Something of an international superstar. 

“I was crushed,” she says. “Cried like a baby and swore I would never be a fan of his again. I believed he would never return to Cleveland and told everyone who would listen that I didn’t want him to return.” 

She did something else, something else done by so many others in Northeast Ohio. 

She lost her cool.

LeBron James had to lose his head. 

“The arms were removed as well,” Burkhart says, sheepishly. 

You see, it wasn’t just James who made an infamous “Decision” on July 8, 2010, one that, at least in forum and manner of delivery, he quickly came to regret. Others made decisions, too. Decisions that may have been inconsistent with their characters. Decisions they unexpectedly had to reconcile, in light of his return four years and three days later.

“I thought there was no way he was coming back,” Burkhart says. 

Few did, at least not back then, not in the madness of that moment. 

Burkhart is a perfectly pleasant professional in her 40s, the national workers’ compensation claims leader for the Westfield Group about 30 minutes outside of Cleveland and the mother of two teenagers. She isn’t the sort of someone you might characterize as The Decapitator for a story such as this, a story to recognize the reaction of Northeast Ohio to James’ first regular-season home game at Quicken Loans Arena since he left. Or the sort of someone you’d think would keep that bobblehead, now nothing more than a torso, for the four years that James spent in Miami, reaching four NBA Finals and winning two championships. 

“That was the only thing I kept,” Burkhart says. “I got rid of the jersey.” 

She never got rid of her skepticism. So when James’ “Coming Home” essay posted on SportsIllustrated.com shortly after 1 p.m. ET on July 11, 2014, she read it four times before she believed it. 

“He came back the right way,” she says. “There is no other reason to come back to Cleveland other than his love for where he grew up and a sense of obligation to make things right with the fans of Cleveland. I’m convinced he wants to, and will, win a championship for us. So given all that, I felt a need to try and reverse all the bad karma I sent his way since 2010.” 

Burkhart ordered a shirt reading “Stay Calm and Welcome Back LeBron,” and planned a pilgrimage. Accompanied by her friends, Kyle and Wayne, wearing shirts that said “Witness Forgiveness” and “Homecoming King,” she ordered James’ favorite meal at Swensons (“Double cheeseburger, banana milkshake, extra bananas; I would never eat those things.”) and popped into one of his favorite spots, Ken Stewart’s Steakhouse, for a beer. And, of course, she stopped at his palatial estate in Bath. 

There, she left the bobblehead by the garbage receptacle. 

“It wasn’t a threat,” she says.

Actually, it was an apology. The bobblehead kept a note in place, a note on which she announced: “I’m a better fan. A better woman. All is forgiven. Let’s do this thing. I’ll see you at the parade.” 

If there ever is one, she’ll see plenty of interesting people there.

Welcome to convulsing, contentious, conflicted…and now nearly contented Cleveland. 

 

The Twins

It’s late afternoon on a Sunday, and a larger-than-regular crowd has shuffled into the downtown Harry Buffalo, with patrons watching their beloved Brownies rally against the Titans. But few are here solely for the football. They’re grabbing a beer and a bite before the Cavaliers play Maccabi Tel Aviv in a preseason exhibition, just a few hundred feet away.

That includes a couple of sisters, both born in Cleveland, both now living in nearby Medina County. 

“We’re twins,” Diane Paoletta says. 

Fraternal? 

“No, no, we’re identical!” they shout together. 

“I’m just cuter, I tell ‘em,” Denise McKenzie says, smiling. 

Tougher, for sure. 

How does she feel about James’ return?

“The jury’s out,” says McKenzie, who works with Burkhart at Westfield Insurance. “We’ll see what he does. Because it’s not about LeBron, it’s about the Cavs for me. I want to be there for the new energy of the whole new team; it’s exciting to have all the players that we have this year.” 

Paoletta sighs. She’s heard all this already. She offered to buy her sister a T-shirt like the one she’s wearing, the one that says “Welcome Back King James.” 

The response? Hell, no. 

“My King lives in heaven,” McKenzie says.

“Oh, whatever,” Paoletta says. 

It’s not just the T-shirt. 

“I will never wear another jersey with James on the back of it,” McKenzie says. “No. Never.”

Paoletta harbors no such animosity. 

She’s even OK with the idea of James not winning a title for Cleveland. 

“Well, he alone is not winning the game,” Paoletta says. “He didn’t win it alone in Miami, and he’s not going to win it alone here. So if we didn’t get the players with him, then shame on us.”

Now McKenzie is the one sighing. 

“I mean, a couple of years ago, I was hoping this was how it would play out,” Paoletta says. “He deserved to win a championship, I didn’t blame him for leaving. I hated the way he did it. But I think he’s grown a lot as a person, and everybody deserves a second chance.”

Especially here, in light of the history. 

“I think [people] want to win,” Paoletta says. “Cleveland hasn’t had a championship team in so long, we’re gonna root for anything that gives us the opportunity to win.”

“I love what he does for Akron and those kids,” McKenzie says. “But I’m a Cavs fan, not a LeBron fan.”

“You’re just a hater,” Paoletta says.

“I’m not a hater!” McKenzie says. “I’m not a hater! Really!”

The Browns complete their comeback.

Several minutes later, the twins haven’t finished this conversation to either’s satisfaction.

“He wanted to win, he deserves to win,” Paoletta says.

She looks over to the reporter who started all this.

“We’re ready to slug it out,” McKenzie says.

“Yeah, but she drove,” Paoletta says.

They laugh. Together.

 

The Kid

Sarah Bowers had a ball.

Then she got one as a souvenir.

The one that set the 10-year-old middle daughter apart, for a change, from her sisters as well as her friends. The one that gave her a story to tell, and savor. 

“She probably often gets shortchanged between the benefits and accolades that go to her older sister Megan and the attention that goes to her younger sister Logan,” acknowledged Jim Bowers, who also works for the Westfield Group, reporting to Burkhart and overseeing McKenzie. “She had grown up a Cavs fan, watching games on TV with her dad and getting a chance to go to one or two games a year in person. It was a big deal when she learned that as a birthday present she was going to get to be a ball girl at the Cavs game.”

She was so excited that she asked the son of one of her father’s co-workers to hand-paint her shoes in hopes that she would interact with James, just a little. It turned out to be more than that.

“She got the entire experience of being treated like a celebrity, meeting LeBron one-on-one on the floor in front of a packed house and throwing him his warm-up ball,” Bowers says. “He took the time to say a few words to her and make her feel special and gave her the ball to keep. She went from a general Cavs fan to an instant die-hard fan and major fan of LeBron. The funny thing is, LeBron would probably not even remember the moment or realize what a big impact he had on Sarah. She went home and proudly displayed the ball in her room for all to see.”

But then, after that connection, came The Decision. 

“She was devastated,” Bowers says. “Really just heartbroken and sad.  From her perspective, this great memory in her life, this special moment, had been tarnished.”

The ball bounced to the back of the closet.

Sarah grew out of childhood, into adolescence, until she became a teenager, formulating more of her own opinions, as teenagers typically do. As rumors of a return circulated, Sarah wasn’t just skeptical. She was dismissive. She thought he was just seeking additional attention. She ruled out the possibility not only of the media’s accuracy, but of James’ sincerity. 

Nor did she really want him back, anyway. 

“For her, all of this was less about the ramifications of winning championships and on-the-court stuff; it was just about the original childhood memory being tarnished by the way he left,” Bowers says. “She seems happy for the city and hardcore fans that he is back, but still being cautious about his return. I don’t think she is waiting to see if we win games and a championship or not, but watching to see how he handles himself.”

Intently. 

“She wants to have that good story to tell again, and feel good about it,” Bowers says. “She wants to bring that basketball out again. She saw his letter. She reads his Twitter stuff. She just wants to be sure. I have a feeling, a month or so into the season, unless something crazy happens, the ball will come out.” 

 

The Comic and the Car Salesman

Not long before Jason Herron snapped, he made a snap decision.

The Youngstown native was on his way to meet some friends at the Harry Buffalo in Lakewood, the appropriate place to watch LeBron James render The Decision. This was where his website, PleaseStayLBJ.com, had held its premiere party, kicking off a summer of T-shirt printings and bikini contests. 

“I mean, it was a blast,” Herron says.

And now, on July 8, 2010, he expected an explosion of ecstasy—captured live by the local Fox affiliateat the instant James announced that he would be remaining with the Cavaliers. 

But just in case the impossible occurred…

“I stopped and got some lighter fluid,” Herron says. “That changed everything. I should have just drove there like a normal person.” 

You have likely seen, on a seemingly endless loop, what happened next: a bonfire of James jerseys, blazing in a suburban parking lot. Herron insists he participated for catharsis, not attention; he had already done the deed and gone back inside for a beer refill when he saw that ESPN had cut, on a slight delay, to the chaotic scene. 

“That’s when I knew the magnitude of it,” says Herron, the general manager of a Hyundai dealership. “When you think of The Decision, that’s the first thing people think of.” 

It wasn’t just what they saw. It’s what they heard. Yeah, Herron was hot as the flames. And he, among others, incinerated James’ character. “I said a lot of bad things,” Herron says. “The one line was: ‘LeBron, you’re dead to me.’ They played that on all the Cleveland radio stations the next day: ‘LeBron, you’re dead to me.’ I’m like, ‘Oh my God.’ Obviously, looking back, that was very childish what we did. But we were very angry. I compared it to if you found out your girlfriend broke up with you on national TV, and left you for a better-looking guy, of course you’re gonna freak out and do things you regret.”

He wasn’t alone in that, even if the volume of jersey-burners may have been overstated. 

“If you watch the video, there were, like, eight-to-10 people in the center of the thing,” says Herron, 41. “Obviously, I was the ringleader, unfortunately. Today, there are probably 100,000 people who say they were there. ‘Yeah, man, I was there burning jerseys!’ I’m, like, yeah, I’ve never seen that guy before.”

Chad Zumock, a stand-up comic, was among those actually in attendance, in that parking lot with Herron. There was little laughter that night. Instead, after the jerseys were burned, he went inside his car and cried. He wouldn’t cry again for more than four years, even though, as he quips, “I had two girlfriends in between.”

The second time?

When he learned from Sports Illustrated‘s Lee Jenkins—whom he had gotten to know in the wake of “The Decision”that in about an hour, the website would announce that James was returning. 

“And as a grown 38-year-old man, I cried,” Zumock says. 

This time, out of joy. 

“I think what you’re seeing right now is there’s such a fine line between love and hate,” Zumock says. “All that love just turned to anger and hatred. It was just so devastating. All of our championship hopes were gone.”

Now they’re back. Now all is forgiven. Herron and Zumock were a big part of the ‘Bron-bashing when the Heat visited Cleveland on Dec. 2, 2010; Herron was present as Zumock DJ’d the “Team Cleveland Pep Rally and LeBron James Roast” at the Barley House in the Warehouse District, where you got a 23-cent shot for every insulting James joke. By the time James won his first championship in 2012, though, Herron had “moved on” some, recognizing that “all this hate isn’t good for anybody.” And Zumock even came to believe that James’ move had been necessary, since by Year 2 with the Heat, “the guy had become a winner. You could tell. He learned how to win, and he learned how to do things the right way.” 

Both believe James handled his return the right way, too. Herron was interviewed two years ago, when there were signs James was warming again to the Cavaliers, and declared he would lead the parade back into town if James handled reconciliation correctly. He doesn’t think James could have done it better. “When he wrote that he went to college for four years, we can all relate to that,” Herron says. “A lot of us have gone away to college and come back. And we love Northeast Ohio, this is our home, this is our area. And the fact that he now realizes he went to Miami and won championships, but something was missing, and it was not being home.” 

The decision to come home had an odd effect on some people. The night after the announcement, Zumock called off one of his stand-up showsin which he does a bit about jersey-burningto check out the scene downtown. “It was awesome,” Zumock says. “It was bigger than sports. Hugging, embracing, honking horns, like we already won the championship. I had my Kyrie Irving jersey on, because I burned my LeBron jersey.”

He even called an ex-girlfriend with whom he hadn’t spoken in four years. 

“It was weird,” Zumock says. “We used to go to Cavs games together, and we had a Please Stay LBJ rally at a bar that she owns. It was a moment. That’s how awesome that situation was. We forgot about everything that happened between us. For that moment, we were just two friends talking. It was really cool. I haven’t talked to her since.”

Herron has never talked to Jameswell, other than through the media, in not-so-sweet terms. 

What would Herron say to James if he could? 

“I would tell him, that night we made some emotional decisions we regret,” Herron says. “We apologize. We were obviously very hurt by the way you left, but we couldn’t be more excited that you’re back.”

He promises that Thursday night, he’ll be in the arena two hours before tipoff.

“I’ll have the biggest goosebumps in the arena,” Herron says. “And I’m probably the happiest guy he’s back. Because in that letter he wrote, he mentioned the jersey-burners as one of the reasons he was hesitant to come back. Imagine if he said, ‘I’m staying in Miami because of the jersey-burners’? I would have been Public Enemy No. 1. I wouldn’t have been able to walk down the street. Thank God you came back, LeBron.” 

 

The Believer

Memories got a lot shorter around here the minute LeBron James returned, and the Cavaliers’ title odds did, too. Nor has self-awareness come easy to everyone. Some, though, have plenty of it, like the friendly cabbie who shuttled this reporter to the practice facility in Independence on the evening prior to the Cavaliers playing their first preseason game against Maccabi Tel Aviv.

“People who said they hated LeBron were dancing in the streets when he came back,” says the long-haired driver, who looks like a lost member of Lynyrd Skynyrd. “And I’m at the front of that line. I’m a hypocrite, man! I was like, ‘Yes!’ And if we have a parade, I’ll be at the front of that line, too.” 

But, really, he and everyone else should have to wait behind James Blair.

The one true believer. 

The one whose support, enthusiasm and commitment never wavered, even if it came at the risk—however brieflyof his freedom. 

We found Blair, 23, in his rightful place on Oct. 5, an hour prior to that preseason game:

Quicken Loans Arena.

This was a major milestone, actually, the first time Blair had been allowed inside the building since his lifetime ban had been lifted. The ban was the result of the former high school valedictorian racing onto the court on March 20, 2013, when James’ Heat were playing the Cavaliers, while wearing a T-shirt with “We Miss You” on the front and “2014 Come Back” on the back. That stunt, while certainly not condoned everywhere, has been seen as something of an early sign by others. After all, James, even in his shock, didn’t shoo the guy away. Instead, James patted Blair on the head and, after Blair’s parents bailed him out of jail and he tweeted his appreciation at James for “showing love,” James replied: “Yesir! Brave guy.” 

And followed his foremost fan on Twitter. 

That wasn’t all Blair did, of course, in an effort to convince James to come back. He sent thousands of upbeat tweets. And he partnered with other optimists in an organized “Come Home LeBron” campaign, standing outside handing out bright green T-shirts to fans attending the Heat’s game in Cleveland last Nov. 27. That was an attempt to show, as was posted on the website, that “the masses don’t all feel the hatred that was portrayed before…We want to win and we know that LeBron probably does want to win for Cleveland.”

It turned out that he and like-minded Ohioans were on to something. Something big. And that has secured Blair’s status as an ongoing local celebrity. 

“It’s kind of cool being a couple of places, and people, like, recognize me and point me out,” Blair says. “‘You’re the guy who got LeBron back!’ I’m like, ‘No, I didn’t get him back, but, yeah, I know what you’re talking about.’ I just love meeting new people. Everywhere I go, I see people, and they’re, like, ‘You’re that guy, no way!'”

Eric Hernandez, 29, has been one of those new people. 

Hernandez, a field service manager for the Icee company, is a Detroit native who became a Cavaliers fan last seasonafter moving from Michigan and enjoying the atmosphere at Quicken Loans. He bought season tickets the day after attending a game, with no assurance that he’d be watching James play regularly. Nor did he go with Blair. They didn’t even know each other until Hernandez noticed Blair’s campaign and they became friendly through social media. Hernandez told Blair that if the ban ever got lifted, there was a standing invite to sit in his seats, that it would be “an honor.” And when it was, in late September, Hernandez reached out to remind him of the invitation.

Wasn’t there a worry that Blair would leave his seat to race down to the court, especially with James now on the home team? 

“No,” Blair says. “No more of that.” 

“I’ll hold him down,” Hernandez says, laughing. 

The evening would go on without incident. Blair, who will spend the fall about 50 minutes from home in a clinical rotation for physical therapy at the downtown Cleveland Clinic, is merely excited about the upcoming season. And a bit amused at the region’s transformation. 

“At first, it was just like, ‘everyone thinks it wasn’t happening’ kind of thing,” Blair says of James’ return. “But as time went on, a lot of people were slowly coming around, like, ‘OK, this could be a possibility.’ And they slowly started agreeing with how I felt at the time, that there was a possibility that he could come back and that if he wanted to, I would support it, and there were a lot of people like me who would support it. And probably, in the days before his 2014 decision, it was 98 percent positive, everybody was on board, thinking there was a chance he could and he was coming back. So it’s been a full circle.”

And now? Is it 100 percent positive? Or is anyone unhappy?

“Even people I have seen before that were badmouthing him, saying we would rather win without him, I’ve seen take complete circles and now they support him back,” Blair says. “I personally have not come across one person who said they would rather him not come back. For the most part, it’s been all positive. I still recognize names where they at the time were, like, ‘That’s stupid, he would never come back, I would never want him back.’ And now they’re, like, ‘Can’t wait for the Cavs to start!'” 

Before this game does, though, one fan, climbing the stairs, has a request.

It’s one he seems to be getting a lot.

“Hey, James, can I get a picture with you?”

  

The Filmmaker

There’s a shared sentiment among many born in the mid-1980s in Northeast Ohio, something you’ll hear from those who would otherwise appear to have little in common with the premier basketball player on the planet. 

“I feel like I grew up with LeBron,” Kirsten Browning says, born in November 1984, one month before James. “I felt this connection to him.” 

It was almost impossible not to, since from his early teens there was so much talk about the “man-child’s” exploitseven if you attended high school 30 minutes away, as Browning did. She first heard about him in homeroom on the first day of school, and as she followed his progress, she came to believe in “a direct [causal] relationship between LeBron’s proximity to Lake Erie and Cleveland’s level of joy.” So as James neared free agency in 2010, and as the frenzy of fear and speculation began overtaking the Internet, Browning felt compelled to pick up a camera. She felt it was her calling to try to make some sense of what one man’s career choice meant to so many. 

She stationed herself in Akron on the night of The Decision, not knowing at the time that her feature-length documentary would ultimately be titled Losing LeBron.

“When he uttered those confusing, infamous words, people didn’t even know what South Beach meant,” Browning says. ” I remember there was a moment of silence, and people were trying to digest what he was saying. I saw some people try to burn some jerseys. Though there was nowhere near the success that they had in Cleveland, in Akron they tried to burn jerseys, but it wasn’t successful. They didn’t have lighter fluid.”

She became frustrated by the perception outside Cleveland that there was pandemonium all over the city.

“There were a few moments that were memorable,” Browning says. “But overall, people accepted it, we were just sad.”

Yes, we. 

Browningwho characterizes herself as a “sojourning journalist with an eclectic background in sports, science and music”had worked on a variety of projects before and has worked on others since. But this was uniquely personal. “A labor of love,” she calls it. Labor, indeed. Browning took on two partners a few months into the process, and the film took many forms before making its world premiere at the Atlanta Film Festival in March 2013, nine months after James had won the first of two championships for Miami. 

The documentary closes with some iconic shots, shots that required a multi-hour stakeout: the removal of the James banner on the Sherwin-Williams building across from Quicken Loans Arena, and the hanging of a new banner on which the paint company, making a point, declares Cleveland “Our Home Since 1866: Our Pride Forever.” 

“That was our closing shot, Cleveland trying to take pride in itself and embrace a new identity separate from a superstar,” Browning says.

Even so, Browning never took a bitter tone. She went so far as to tell a reporter that even if he never returned as a basketball player, she hoped he would continue to invest in Northeast Ohio as a philanthropist and entrepreneur. 

“Contrary to what people might expect from a Clevelander who made a documentary about him leaving, I actually never said a cruel thing about how he left,” Browning says. “I did hope that someday the relationship between my hometown and its prodigal son would be restored, and I’m overjoyed to see this day come to fruition.”

It did on July 11, 2014. She was in Los Angeles.

“I did not expect to be in tears at the news,” Browning says. “But when I saw my mother’s text pop up announcing the big reveal, I really couldn’t hold them back. I feel like I’ve been on this odd, emotional roller coaster of fanship over the past four years.” 

She is a fan, most of all, of her city, her region. She was not surprised to see Cleveland embrace him unquestionably, no matter what some may have said. “I never thought that people were going to say, ‘No, you can’t come back, LeBron,'” Browning says. “There was just a resentment for having someone else. I won’t invoke the old, tired cliche about the jilted girlfriend, because everyone has just exhausted that. But there’s a feeling that you love someone, so you feel this incredible pride and connection with them, and they say they’re ready to come back, you’re ready to accept them. I knew that would be it.”

She acknowledges there’s “a sense of wariness” about what will happen next, just because “of all the hard knocks that Cleveland has had…There is an underlying sense of we’re not used to getting what we want in Cleveland. We hope for the best, but we definitely expect the worst. That’s the only thing that’s helped us survive the past 40 years.” 

But now, there’s once again the possibility to thrive.

“People have called us Mistake on the Lake,” Browning says. “But right now, with LeBron returning, it’s really a New Take on the Lake. That’s what we are experiencing, a renaissance of sorts in Cleveland. New restaurants opening up, after so many shuttered in the wake of his departure. And a new sense of purpose, and a new hope for so many beginnings, economic not the least of them. Thursday is undoubtedly going to be a return to all those things.” 

She will be there, at the opener, her crew interviewing and filming around and inside Quicken Loans Arena. After all, she needs to do an update. There’s a new LeBron banner going up, for a new beginning. That shot will probably need to be in the update, possibly as the new ending. 

“It feels a little dangerously like deja vu,” she adds. “But at the same time, it’s hard to hold ourselves back. We just love LeBron so much, we just can’t seem to separate ourselves.”

She laughs.

“So I’m just hoping it will go a little better this time.” 

 

Ethan Skolnick covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @EthanJSkolnick.

Pete Rock Pays Tribute to Nas with ‘Time is Illmatic’ Mixtape

Legendary producer Pete Rock celebrates the 20th anniversary of Nas’ Illmatic LP as well as the recent release of Tribeca Film’s Nas: Time Is Illmatic documentary with his own personal mix. The tribute includes all 10 tracks from the album as well as appearances from Large Professor, DJ Premier, Q-Tip and L.E.S.. If you’re interested in checking out a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the documentary click here. Otherwise, the Nas: Time is Illmatic documentary is currently available for purchase on iTunes.

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Giants Ace Madison Bumgarner Wins World Series MVP

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CBSNewYork/AP) – Madison Bumgarner was limbering up at Kauffman Stadium this week, getting loose with his San Francisco teammates near the dugout, when Tim Hudson and Michael Morse sneaked up from behind and ruffled the pitcher’s long, scraggly locks.

That was way too hairy for Bumgarner. He quickly spun and playfully sparred with the mischief makers.

They were about the only ones who could touch Bumgarner in this World Series.

“Yeah, it was hopeless,” Kansas City manager Ned Yost acknowledged.

The 25-year-old Bumgarner capped off a most splendid October and earned MVP honors Wednesday night, pitching five scoreless innings of relief in Game 7 as the Giants held off the Kansas City Royals 3-2.

Moments after he retired Salvador Perez on a foul pop with a runner on third base for the final out, Bumgarner insisted he wasn’t worn down. About a half-hour later, he felt a bit differently.

“You know what? I can’t lie to you anymore,” he said. “I’m a little tired now.”

Bumgarner earned a sensational save to go along with two sparkling wins as a starter in the Series. That on top of being MVP of the NL Championship Series and pitching a record 52 2-3 innings in this postseason.

Put it this way: Bumgarner threw two shutouts in October, starting with a win at Pittsburgh in the NL wild-card game. Washington’s Jordan Zimmermann was the only other starter to reach the ninth inning this postseason, and he got pulled.

All tremendous accomplishments, but hard to tell from observing or listening to the 6-foot-5 Bumgarner. He shows virtually no emotion on the mound, blowing his nose as if no one is watching, and seems to be the only person unimpressed by what he’s done.

Funny thing, the slow-moving lefty was carrying an energy bar with him when he kidded around with Hudson and Morse before Game 6.

“He’s such a humble guy, and we rode him pretty good,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

“It’s historic what this kid has done,” he said. “Really, truly amazing.”

After winning the opener with seven impressive innings, Bumgarner threw a shutout in Game 5. And when the Royals forced a Game 7, there was little doubt that the guy called MadBum would be called on to pitch again on two days’ rest.

But five innings? Who would’ve believed that?

“Innings, I wasn’t thinking about innings or pitch count. I was just thinking about getting outs, getting outs until I couldn’t get them anymore and we needed someone else,” Bumgarner said. “Fortunately, was able to get some quick innings and I was able to stay in there.”

He gave up two hits, retired 14 in a row, and got 15 outs – that matched how many outs opposing starters Tim Hudson and Jeremy Guthrie combined to get.

Bumgarner boosted his World Series stats to numbers never seen before: 4-0 with a save and an 0.25 ERA, along with three championship rings. In 36 innings, he’s allowed just one run and 14 hits, striking out 31 and walking five.

Bumgarner wound up slinging 68 pitches, and finished with 270 innings this season. He went 4-1 with a 1.03 ERA in the postseason.

“To me, you’d be hard-pressed to find a performance like this ever,” Giants catcher Buster Posey said. “It’s got to be one of the very few in the history of baseball. What he did tonight was incredible.”

Last weekend, former broadcaster and St. Louis Cardinals catcher Tim McCarver paid tribute to the Giants ace.

“It’s Gibson-esque, if you will. I know Bob could do that and I saw that from a 60-feet, 6-inch view of him every outing he threw in the World Series. I see the same thing in Bumgarner. I really admire that,” McCarver said.

Before Game 7, Jack Morris also praised Bumgarner. Morris knows well about Game 7 – always intense on the mound, he threw a 10-inning shutout in 1991 to lift Minnesota over Atlanta.

“I want to hug him,” Morris said near the backstop, a couple hours before game time. “He’s my kind of guy.”

“He’s got the same emotions, he just doesn’t show them. He’s got a big furnace burning right now,” he said.

A lot of stamina, too.

But in this era when pitch counts are so precious, Bumgarner wasn’t worried about his arm in Game 7. And if he was OK, so was Bochy.

“In fact, I was staying away from him every inning,” Bochy said, “because I was hoping he wouldn’t go, `I’m starting to get a little tired,’ because there’s no way I would have taken him out unless he would have told me that.”

Posey said there wasn’t much conversation on the bench with Bochy, Bumgarner and pitching coach Dave Righetti, either.

“Not much of anything. I think everybody could see how good he was,” Posey said. “They weren’t putting great swings on him.”

No, they weren’t.

“We probably would have won if they didn’t have him,” Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain said. “But they do have him.”

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