LeBron underwhelms (again) in “biggest game of his career”

I have seen LeBron James play in person just once, during his second season in the league. The Cavs were in town to play my hometown New York Knicks in a matchup of the most exciting young player in the league versus a team that featured Michael Sweetney, Moochie Norris, and Vin Baker. I sat down low around midcourt, craning my neck and standing on my tiptoes to watch LeBron warm up in layup lines. He was enormous, looking more like an NFL linebacker than an NBA forward, and he seemed to have boundless energy and springs for legs.

LeBron played an awful game.

The Knicks, the same Knicks who would fire coach Lenny Wilkens just a few weeks later, dominated the young Cavs team. LeBron seemed to drift from baseline to baseline, occasionally eliciting ooh’s and ah’s from the crowd but for the most part remaining invisible.

The 6’8” 250-plus pound physical specimen was the smallest player on the court, totally absent from the game, and the Knicks coasted to an easy win.

As I filed out of Madison Square Garden, I looked up at the scoreboard to check LeBron’s scoreline: 13 points, 9 rebounds, 10 assists. I thought to myself: That guy is the most exciting player in the league? That guy nearly had a triple double? Pfft, I’d rather have Stephon Marbury.

Obviously, LeBron has changed.

He came into the league as a great player, had a somewhat off sophomore season, and then turned into the otherworldly player we’ve all come to love and hate. He has been transcendent at times, like his 48-point outburst against the Pistons in 2007. He has been maddening at other times, like during his all-time stinker in Game 4 of these NBA Finals. But even Michael Jordan had bad games – remember the time he went 0-3 with two strikeouts again the Chatenooga Lookouts?

The storyline for Game 4 was simple: what happened to LeBron?

Stephen A. Smith stoked the flames Thursday with news that a “personal issue” had contributed to LeBron’s stinkbomb, and Twitter lit up with a dubious report that Rashard Lewis had slept with LeBron’s girl. This follows last year’s bunk that teammate Delonte West slept with LeBron’s mother. (Let me say this: I have seen Rashard Lewis up close, and his skin is as bumpy as Mystique’s in the new X-Men movie. Delonte West is no prize himself. The women in LeBron’s life clearly have strange fake tastes in men.)

Game 5 rolled around and all eyes were squarely on LeBron. A few minutes into the first quarter, Dwyane Wade went down with a hip contusion after a hard foul by Brian Cardinal. With Wade in the locker room, this was LeBron’s time to shine. He had to know the moment, he had to know that he was the best option for Miami to win this game, and he HAD to know that it was time to take over.

So instead he passed the ball at every opportunity, half-heartedly drove the lane to try and draw fouls, and did not hit a single shot outside of the paint until midway through the third quarter.

It was an absolute disaster of a game.

Don’t let the stat line fool you: LeBron had a triple double with 17-10-10, but this was a superstar absolutely wilting under tremendous pressure in front of a raucous away crowd.

All credit belongs to the Mavericks, who shot the lights out all night and got A+ games from Dirk Nowtizki, Jason Terry and JJ Barea, plus outstanding contributions from Tyson Chandler and Shawn Marion and Jason Kidd and…well, basically everyone on Dallas played their hearts out. Barea hit about five shots that made my father mutter “unbelievable” under his breath as he sat next to me watching. Dirk hit the most sensational rainbow three I think I have ever seen. And Terry and Kidd were clutch the whole night. This was a shooting clinic for Dallas – I honestly expected the net to catch on fire à la NBA Jam at one point.

But LeBron made it easy for them – in fact, it seemed that everyone on Miami tried to pick up the slack except LeBron. Wade scored 23 in spite of what looked like a nasty hip injury that required two extended trips to the locker room. Chris Bosh was aggressive driving to the rim, fighting for offensive rebounds and putbacks and shooting off the dribble. Mario Chalmers seemed to think he was playing Memphis in the NCAA Finals and hit about every three he took, including a half court buzzer beater. Udonis Haslem was great inside. Even Juwan Howard, who is so old that he majored in Alchemy at Michigan, got in on the action.

LeBron though looked overmatched all night.

He played 46 minutes – 46!!! – and took just two free throws. Read that again.

He was blanketed all night by Deshawn Stevenson to the point that he was a spectator on multiple Miami possessions. He turned the ball over, he threw bad passes, and every time he got the ball in the paint he would slash to the hoop and pass out to the wing. Passing to 2003 Mike Miller is one thing, but passing to 2011 Mike Miller during the NBA FINALS GAME FIVE is like giving up on a possession.

So what does this game mean for LeBron going forward?

I don’t think people really hate LeBron James. I think he frustrates them. They see the talent, the once-in-a-generation ability, and they get mad when he doesn’t average a triple double over a season, or single-handedly win the NBA Finals, or match the sky-high expectations that have dogged him his entire career. He doesn’t dunk from the three point line or score 100 points or rip down the rim every time he has the ball, but he does something incredible juuuust often enough that people want to see him do it every time.

That was the problem with The Decision in a nutshell. If he had gone on TV and announced he was staying, no one would have called him a media whore. If he had gone on TV and said he was going to the Knicks, or Bulls, or anywhere without Wade and Bosh, no one would have said he was looking for the easy route to a championship. But he seemed like he was giving up, admitting he couldn’t do it without Wade, and it upset people who have seen him do incredible things on a basketball court, things that no one has ever done before.

The dirty secret about LeBron is that he will coast. He can get by on talent alone and seemingly mail in a game and wind up with a triple double in a close loss and think stuffing the stat line is enough effort. He can put up big numbers on a bad team, or as a second fiddle, and still wow us with big dunks and chase-down blocks and brilliant passes.

In a way, he is a victim of his own immense talent. We’ve seen the 48-point games and we want it every time he steps on the court. Fair or not, anything less is not enough.

LeBron said before Game 5 that it was the biggest game of his career. I think Game 6 just got a little bigger.



Comments

  1. that was brilliant, you summed up my thoughts exactly!

  2. Hey there! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could locate a captcha plugin for my comment form? I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having trouble finding one? Thanks a lot!

  3. This design is steller! You most certainly know how to keep a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Fantastic job. I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool!

  4. Wow, this article is fastidious, my younger sister is analyzing these things, therefore I am going to inform her.

  5. Greetings from Idaho! I’m bored at work so I decided to check out your website on my iphone during lunch break. I enjoy the information you provide here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home. I’m shocked at how fast your blog loaded on my cell phone .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, fantastic blog!

  6. My brother suggested I might like this website. He was entirely right. This post truly made my day.

  7. I simply want to mention I am new to blogging and actually savored your web site. Very likely I’m going to bookmark your site . You certainly have tremendous article content. Many thanks for sharing with us your website page.

  8. Hi, Neat post. There’s an issue with your website in web explorer, could test this… IE nonetheless is the market chief and a huge component to other folks will pass over your great writing because of this problem.

  9. This is very interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger. I have joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your fantastic post. Also, I have shared your web site in my social networks!

  10. Hiya, I am really glad I’ve found this information. Nowadays bloggers publish only about gossips and internet and this is actually annoying. A good site with interesting content, this is what I need. Thank you for keeping this site, I will be visiting it. Do you do newsletters? Can’t find it.

  11. I want to voice my admiration for your kindness supporting persons that actually need help with the area. Your very own dedication to passing the solution around had become pretty beneficial and has specifically encouraged guys and women much like me to realize their aims. Your informative key points entails a great deal to me and even more to my mates. Many thanks; from each one of us.

  12. Just about all of what you articulate happens to be supprisingly appropriate and it makes me wonder the reason why I had not looked at this with this light previously. This particular piece truly did switch the light on for me as far as this subject matter goes. Nevertheless at this time there is actually 1 factor I am not too cozy with so whilst I make an effort to reconcile that with the actual main idea of your position, permit me observe just what all the rest of your readers have to point out.Nicely done.

  13. Hey there, You have done a great job. I will definitely digg it and personally suggest to my friends. I am sure they will be benefited from this web site.

  14. Just wish to say your article is as astonishing. The clarity in your post is just spectacular and i can assume you’re an expert on this subject. Well with your permission let me to grab your feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the enjoyable work.

  15. whoah this weblog is great i love studying your posts. Stay up the good work! You recognize, a lot of persons are looking around for this info, you could aid them greatly.

  16. Thank you for writing this awesome article. I’m a long time reader but I’ve never been compelled to leave a comment. I subscribed to your blog and shared this on my Twitter. Thanks again for a great article!

  17. Thank you for writing this awesome article. I’m a long time reader but I’ve never been compelled to leave a comment. I subscribed to your blog and shared this on my Twitter. Thanks again for a great post!

  18. I’ve read a few excellent stuff here. Certainly worth bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how much attempt you place to make one of these excellent informative site.

  19. Very interesting topic , appreciate it for posting . “There are several good protections against temptations, but the surest is cowardice.” by Mark Twain.

  20. Some really quality blog posts on this site, saved to my bookmarks .

  21. A person necessarily assist to make critically posts I’d state. That is the first time I frequented your web page and to this point? I amazed with the research you made to create this particular post extraordinary. Wonderful task!

  22. Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it. Look advanced to more added agreeable from you! However, how could we communicate?

  23. I just want to advise you that I am new to putting up a blog and genuinely adored your page. More than likely I am prone to bookmark your blog post . You indeed have wonderful article blog posts. Be Grateful For it for telling with us your favorite internet document

  24. Thank you for writing this awesome article. I’m a long time reader but I’ve never been compelled to leave a comment. I subscribed to your blog and shared this on my Facebook. Thanks again for a great article!

  25. Good morning here, just became aware about your wordpress bog through Search engine, and have found that it’s truly entertaining. I’ll appreciate should you continue this.

  26. What i don’t understood is in reality how you’re no longer really much more neatly-appreciated than you may be now. You are very intelligent. You realize therefore considerably in terms of this topic, produced me in my opinion believe it from numerous various angles. Its like men and women don’t seem to be interested until it is one thing to do with Woman gaga! Your personal stuffs nice. All the time care for it up!

  27. I and my pals came studying the nice points found on your web page while suddenly came up with a horrible suspicion I never thanked you for those tips. All the men were definitely for this reason happy to study them and already have sincerely been using those things. I appreciate you for simply being so helpful as well as for picking some marvelous resources millions of individuals are really desperate to be informed on. Our own honest regret for not expressing gratitude to you earlier.

  28. I intended to compose you that very small remark to thank you again for the spectacular principles you’ve shared in this case. It is so unbelievably generous of people like you to offer publicly all some people could have offered as an electronic book to help make some bucks for themselves, precisely considering the fact that you could have tried it if you decided. Those solutions additionally served to become a great way to fully grasp someone else have similar desire just as my personal own to know the truth great deal more in regard to this problem. I’m sure there are lots of more pleasant sessions ahead for people who read carefully your site.

  29. Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your blog and in accession capital to assert that I acquire in fact enjoyed account your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your augment and even I achievement you access consistently fast.

  30. great points altogether, you simply received a logo new reader. What could you recommend in regards to your post that you made a few days in the past? Any sure?

  31. Thank you for posting this awesome article. I’m a long time reader but I’ve never been compelled to leave a comment. I subscribed to your blog and shared this on my Facebook. Thanks again for a great post!

  32. There is noticeably a lot to identify about this. I consider you made various good points in features also.

  33. hi!,I really like your writing so a lot! percentage we keep in touch more approximately your post on AOL? I need an expert in this space to unravel my problem. Maybe that’s you! Having a look ahead to look you.

  34. I intended to compose you this very little observation in order to give many thanks the moment again for these pleasant knowledge you’ve featured in this article. It is quite unbelievably open-handed of people like you in giving extensively all a number of us might have offered for sale for an ebook to make some bucks for their own end, certainly seeing that you could have tried it if you decided. These solutions also acted to become fantastic way to recognize that the rest have similar passion just like my personal own to know the truth many more when considering this matter. I am certain there are several more enjoyable instances in the future for individuals who look into your site.

  35. Thank you for publishing this awesome article. I’m a long time reader but I’ve never been compelled to leave a comment. I subscribed to your blog and shared this on my Facebook. Thanks again for a great article!

  36. Excellent site. A lot of helpful information here. I’m sending it to some friends ans also sharing in delicious. And of course, thank you on your sweat!

  37. I really like your writing style, wonderful info , thanks for putting up : D.

  38. Needed to put you one very small observation in order to thank you so much as before relating to the breathtaking techniques you have provided on this site. It was simply surprisingly generous with you to grant openly precisely what many people would have distributed as an electronic book to end up making some dough on their own, specifically considering that you could possibly have tried it in the event you considered necessary. Those things likewise served like a great way to recognize that many people have the same zeal just like mine to know the truth much more with respect to this issue. I’m certain there are lots of more enjoyable times in the future for individuals who discover your website.

  39. You could definitely see your enthusiasm in the work you write. The arena hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who are not afraid to say how they believe. At all times follow your heart. “Faith in the ability of a leader is of slight service unless it be united with faith in his justice.” by George Goethals.

  40. I like the helpful info you provide in your articles. I’ll bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently. I am quite certain I’ll learn plenty of new stuff right here! Good luck for the next!

  41. magnificent issues altogether, you simply received a brand new reader. What may you recommend about your publish that you just made a few days in the past? Any sure?

  42. Wonderful site. A lot of useful information here. I am sending it to some buddies ans also sharing in delicious. And of course, thank you to your effort!

  43. Good write-up, I am regular visitor of one’s blog, maintain up the excellent operate, and It is going to be a regular visitor for a lengthy time.

  44. Great beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your web site, how can i subscribe for a blog web site? The account aided me a acceptable deal. I had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided bright clear idea

  45. Hey very cool blog!! Guy .. Excellent .. Superb .. I’ll bookmark your site and take the feeds also…I am glad to find so many helpful info right here in the post, we’d like work out more strategies on this regard, thanks for sharing.

  46. I believe you have mentioned some very interesting details , thanks for the post.

Speak Your Mind