The Morning After is a look at the night that was in the NBA along with other NBA-related fodder.
One thing remained very clear in last night’s LeBronageddon: LeBron James still runs the Cavaliers. He runs through their minds and for three quarters worth of work (38 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists) en route to a 118-90 Heat scorching, he ran right past them.
The Cleveland faithful tried to push back, but their scrap heap team presented the same congeniality they did back when they shared a locker room with James. Daniel Gibson and the boys loved him like an old friend they hadn’t seen in awhile, one who was in town for just a night. Sure, sure take my bed for the night. Go ahead, help yourself to whatever’s in the fridge; I think the wife made meatloaf. Feel free to buy a movie on pay-per-view if you want, if it helps you sleep better. Oh, and do you need a wake-up call tomorrow morning?
The fans did their best to make him feel unwelcome, to make him feel like he no longer belongs here, to make him feel bad for what he did. But on the court, when the actual game took over, all of the ancillary stuff was just that, and LeBron never looked more comfortable. And the Cavs never looked more content to watch in awe as their hero returned to give them a taste of the good ol’ days, when everyone’s on-court responsibilities were less and their pregame choreographing duties more. That place would’ve been bonkers had the basketball team been ready for this.
But they were not, and they probably couldn’t have been. Let’s not forget how much, in a basketball sense, had to go perfect in order for the Cavs to stay in this one for a complete game. And no matter how much they are willed to do so, Cleveland just can’t play good enough basketball – especially offensively, where they strung together plenty of absolutely putrid possessions – to hang with a Miami team that had a lot of things rolling in a positive direction on this night.
Chris Bosh was an effective rover, piling on by knocking down open shots. Dwyane Wade almost had a very quiet triple double (22 points, 9 rebounds, 9 assists) and got his feet wet in this one before LeBron eventually cannonballed in. Miami ran the floor more (thanks to a great many ill-conceived shots from the Cavs) and looked a little more fluid, but again, it was Cleveland, and both LeBron and Wade still appeared more comfortable without the other on the court. Some nights, that can work.
At some point during Blowout Game Announcer Talking Time, Reggie Miller and Steve Kerr thought it’d be nice of James, after throwing down a gauntlet of staggering daggers and unstoppable drives to the basket while dropping the first post-“Decision” People’s Elbow on the city of Cleveland, if he showed some humility after the game and apologized; I’m unsure if they meant for his performance last night, for his “Decision”, or for everything.
But at this point, especially the point after he just ravaged his old team and fans, would it matter if he said sorry? Wouldn’t it just make him sound more clueless and out of touch than he already appears to be so often? Yes, I made it a point to embarrass my former ‘mates and silence your lusting boos, all the while making it at least appear that I was enjoying myself, saying ‘hi’ to everyone in the building I know, not just unaffected by the situation but thriving in it, but oh, I apologize if that hurt your feelings or broke your spirits. My bad.
Even for a guy who doesn’t show us much realness in James, that sounds utterly cartoonish.
And, since their mindsets are often compared and contrasted, would Jordan or Bryant ever apologize after a cold-blooded ass-kicking like that one? I don’t see why James is asked to be humble, apologetic and ruthless assassin all at the same time. Now that we are so far removed from his “Decision” and he’s been in a Heat uniform for a little over a month, an apology for anything “Decision”-related would sound tacked on and hollow. If he wanted to, he would’ve, but he hasn’t, so let’s try and let that one go.
As a basketball fan, LeBron’s performance last night is why he matters so much; it’s what makes the rest of the circus surrounding him and the mystery of who he is as a person bearable (if only ever-so-slightly so). Watching him play like that renders everything else moot.
It was one game, and LeBron and the Heat will encounter bigger games against better opponents with much, much more at stake as the season chugs along. But last night was another step towards the Death Star’s completion; it was another glimpse into what these guys may at some point in this season be able to do on a regular basis.
For LeBron and Cleveland, it was something that had to happen, had to be resolved. Now that it’s done, we know what we already knew: The Cleveland Cavaliers are stuck in the tar pit of the past, LeBron James plays for the Miami Heat, and he is pretty good at basketball.
**James photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images.
**Death Star photo courtesy of http://scrapetv.com/News/News%20Pages/main%20pages/Entertainment-page-7-Scrape-TV-The-World-on-your-side.html
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