|Posted on June 24, 2012 at 12:10 AM|
It’s one thing when a player establishes himself as the most talented player in the NBA (Lebron James Regular Season 2010). It’s another thing when a player caps off an MVP season and seems to have some greater understanding of the game than everyone else on the court as well as raw determination (Lebron James Regular Season 2012). It’s another thing when a player goes into “I’m scoring at will, and nobody can stop me” mode (Lebron James from Game 4 vs. Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals until Game 3 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals). And finally, when a player finds the perfect balance between “I’m scoring at will, and nobody can stop me” mode and “I’m going to get everyone on my team wide open shots” mode, it is unbelievable to watch. Magic Johnson found it, Larry Bird found it, Michael Jordan found it, and now Lebron James has found it in the two clinching games of the 2012 NBA Finals.
When Lebron James started jumping up and down in celebration near the end of the game, I expected to be at the very least disappointed with the outcome, but I wasn’t. I was shocked to find that I was as excited as I have ever been watching a basketball game. This was the first time that I had been able to witness a performance of this caliber by a single player as it happened, having missed out on seeing Michael Jordan play. I finally understood what it meant for a player to truly take over a basketball game.
(In order, here were the most awesome things about that Heat jumping celebration: (1) Joel Anthony’s face, (2) Lebron’s sheer joy, (3) Shane Battier calmness, (4) Mike Breen’s announcing, (5) The fact that it’s Eddy Curry’s most active 15 seconds of the entire season, (6) Lebron has no idea what to do with his arms so he eventually resorts to the chicken dance, (7) It’s going to become one of the great iconic images in NBA history)
I’ve heard the media saying, “Dwyane Wade was unselfish by letting Lebron James be the alpha dog.” No! It wasn’t about Wade. It was about Lebron James scoring 25 points in an all-time record 15 consecutive playoff games and giving Wade no choice but to let him run the show. And when Lebron did proclaim himself the alpha dog, he did one hell of a job, becoming the only player in NBA history to average 30 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists per game on 50% field goal shooting for an entire postseason. While on the court during the playoffs, he scored 35% of Miami’s points and assisted on 27% of their field goals, meaning he either scored or assisted on more than half of the Heat’s offense over the past month and a half.
The best example of the extent to which Lebron took control of this series was when his teammate Mario Chalmers began prematurely celebrating the championship by waving his arms at the crowd well before the game was over. James calmly approached him and Chalmers immediately stopped, as if he was intimidated of Lebron’s presence. The best part of this was that Lebron James himself already put on an intricate champagne bottle celebration in the 3RD QUARTER, but Chalmers still listened to him despite his being totally hypocritical.
Still, Lebron winning a championship doesn’t change my opinion about The Decision. He still quit on his team after he promised he would win a championship in Cleveland. He still overdramatized his decision on where to play. He still chose to play with two other superstars for help. He still got incredibly cocky during what was literally the most ridiculous event in the history of sports. Then he collapsed during the 2011 NBA Finals after saying “It’s going to be easy.” Then, after losing, he said this: “At the end of the day, all the people that was rooting on me to fail […] have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today. I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live […] and be happy.” None of that will go away.
But it doesn’t matter whether or not you like Lebron James, and frankly, I don’t. It matters that every basketball fan in world understands that he had one best NBA Finals performance of all-time. It matters that you enjoyed watching him tear apart Oklahoma City’s defense for five straight games. It matters that you appreciate that Lebron has finally figured out how perfectly play the “power point guard” position. As former NBA coach Hubie Brown said about close-out games, “The main thing is: You gotta go to another level.” That’s exactly what Lebron James did.
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Categories: Awards & Honors