Monday, June 13, 2011

LeBron's loss

I watched the Dallas-Miami game with my buddy Joe Posnanski last night. He, of course, was so elequent about it that I'm probably not going to add much to the discussion. And we both saw what everybody else saw: LeBron James, creator of the Miami dream team, focal point of the whole NBA season, on the floor in the fourth quarter with millions of people watching and a title up for grabs, desperately trying to hide.

He could not give up the ball fast enough. He could not have guarded more passively. (Dirk Nowitzki blew by him on a key basket late in the game and LeBron let him go like it was the lunchtime run at the Y.) In the biggest moments, the man with the tools to be the greatest player in history was the worst player on the court.

I'll admit, I was rooting against LeBron. He dumped Cleveland in a cruel way and started counting off trophies for his new team before they had won anything. The word "comeuppance" was meant for what happened to him in this series.

But it shouldn't have happened this way.

If you're going to lose, LOSE. Shoot 2-for-20. Foul out. There's no shame in failure built on effort. But to shrink from the moment, to so clearly deflate under pressure... that's a different kind of stain. It won't wash out.

Since LeBron was 16 years old, people have told him he was going to be the greatest basketball player on Earth. For the last four or five years, at least, a lot of people have said he already is. When he's great -- making outrageous jumpers, locking down the other team's best scorer, streaking down the court like a cross between a defensive end and a ballet dancer -- there's never been anyone better.

He is King James, the anointed. As he told the Miami fans before the season, the Heat would win "not one, not two, not three..." championships. They would have a roomful of trophies. And he would be the best player on the best team.

But where you truly discover yourself in life is when it goes off-script. The Mavericks were not ready to grant LeBron his destiny. Miami lost a game they should have won, then another and another.

I don't know what's in LeBron James' head. But I suspect he had already played out the movie in his mind. He had already seen the ending, where he held up the trophy in front of his adoring fans. And in the real world, where that was not happening, he simply could not understand.

Dwyane Wade and the rest of the Heat players kept trying. They knew that you can write your own script on the fly. LeBron acted as if the game were already over. He seemed to decide it was not his time.

And so, instead of playing like a king, he was just another witness.


Anonymous said...

Call it a dose of humility.
Miami showed the world how soft they really are. All bark, no bite.
Maybe one day Charlotte will have a franchise on the national stage??

Mike from Mooresville said...

In honor of LeBron, I'm going to quit work 12 minutes early today.

Anonymous said...

Mike - LeBron left his job 3/4 of the way through the game, so you should actually feel obligated to leave two hours early (given a normal eight hour workday).

Back to LBJ - comeuppance is the right word. The self-appointed "king" is dead and the Chosen 1 tattoo on his back is meaningless. He wanted to be the best player on the best team, but in actuality, he's the second best player on the second best team.

The self-appointed "king" needed a dose of humility. James even tweeted that "The Greater Man upstairs know when it's my time." What an idiot. Like God actually gives a crap about trivial nonsense like the NBA Finals and one primadonna's personal experience therein.

Ever since calling himself a king, then spurning an entire city with his egomaniacal "The Decision" program, followed by awarding himself multiple championships prior to playing a single game with his new team, to mocking Dirk for being ill... LeBron has a lot to atone for, in my opinion.

This is also why all the comparisons to Jordan are fruitless. Jordan conducted himself as a professional on (and most of the time off) the court. He played at a high level for all four quarters of a game and did not fade when crunch time arrived. He has an ego, true, but his is dwarfed by James'. And James has no basis for having such an ego that it dwarfs Michael Jordan's by comparison.

digal704 said...

I was impressed with the humility Dallas posessed during the finals. Congratulations! Great to see Tyson Chandler win. He played hard! What did we get in exchange for him? Najera, Dampier and Carroll. Not much. Cuban has always taken care of his franchise. Been there every step of the way. You listening and watching MJ? I rooted for the Mavs because I loved what they represented and that they swept the Lakers! When are you all going to quit focusing on Lebron's past? Move forward. Nobody owes anybody. Live and let live

Anonymous said...

digal - when he has laser surgery to remove that "Chosen 1" tattoo from his back, stops referring to himself as a "king" and begins to show a little humility, we'll talk.

Until then, he deserves every bit of vitriol the public can dish out.

Good comments about Cuban and the Mavs, though. They deserve every bit of the championship.

Anonymous said...

I hope this puts an end to all comparisons of Lebron to MJ once and for all. MJ was never a quiter!! Infact, most of the times he willed his team to the end - anyone remember when he played with the flu and was throwing up during time-outs?

Lynne Stevenson said...

LeBron has become the next Tiger Woods. Over and washed up already. Time to move on to the next multimillion dollar golden kid to drool over and make into another sports idol. Stick a fork in him and call it a career already, he is done...

Anonymous said...

Tommy you are wrong for the Cleveland comment: He dumped Cleveland in a cruel way and started counting off trophies for his new team before they had won anything. The word "comeuppance" was meant for what happened to him in this series.

Lebron's contract with Cleveland was over and like any other athlete he made the decision to move on to another team---WTH is wrong with that? I'm so sick of this line being included in articles. HELL Lebron & the owner of the Cavaliers had made enough money!

Anonymous said...

People are truly ignorant to the history of basketball. Lebron James is probably going to be the Greatest player to ever play the game(.) No, Lebron is not where Michael Jordan was when he retired but compare the 26 year old Lebron James to a 26 year old Michael Jordan. Lebron has accomplished more at 26 years old. No, Lebron is not a complete closer under pressure, but how long did it take Michael Jordan to win a championship - how long did it take MJ to develop into a complete player. I will say, yes it may be Lebron's lack of college experience or situational experience - yes Lebron finishes when his team is ahead, but he just needs these experiences to build him into the complete player people keep saying he is not going to be.

Lebron is going to be the best player to ever play the game - yes, above Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Bill Russell, Wilton Chamberlain, Oscar Robinson, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Walt Frazier, John Havlicek, Jerry West, ......

People said the same thing in 1986 about Michael Jordan with 63 points against Boston, but how many rings did he retire with.

Love your team and stop hating just because you didn't have the opportunities Lebron and other NBA players have. The Haters are just going to return to their regular lives after this week - in five years how cares about Lebron leaving Cleveland. "Have you been to Cleveland - I would have left as well. Cleveland is as good as the attitude the people take for the city. When their past mayor - Mayor White could say, people don't want to come here - there is a problem. The Cleveland Browns left for a reason - you fought for the name, the Lebron leaves you cry about it and wish injury to him and his family. Lebron gave enough notice when his contract was signed - at the end of this contract - there is a possibility I may look to a better opportunity. "I love the state of Ohio, but I'm playing this sport for the love of the game - ad everyone would love to be a winner and the reality is Cleveland is just never going to be a winner.

tommy tomlinson said...

Anon 7:07: I've never had a problem with LeBron leaving Cleveland. They never put together a great team around him. The problem I had was HOW he left Cleveland... that Decision show was just about the most hurtful way he could have done it, whether he meant to or not.

Anonymous said...

This guy is being compared to Michael Jordan?


MJ wanted the ball in crunch time in all the big games. He carried rosters of mediocre players to championships.

No comparison.