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.