For LeBron James and other people to say that he isn’t feeling any pressure right now is a 100% false statement. Tonight’s Game 5 will have huge implications on his legacy, career, and psyche. While I have been impressed with LeBron and his approach to the game this postseason, he still has a lot of work left to do. I think most people misunderstand me when I say I am not a fan of LeBron James. It’s not that I don’t think he is a good person, business person or basketball player. I am annoyed with his antics and, by now, we all know what antics I am talking about. If you don’t know, here’s a quick rundown: King James nickname, The Chosen One, “Not four, not five, not six . . .” , lackluster effort in his last game with Cleveland (despite great numbers), the “Superman” to Cam Newton on the sidelines after the Heat barely escaped with a victory over the worst team in the history of basketball (k-12, college and pro; maybe all of sports), his complete denial of every time he is called for a foul, and his complaining and demonstrative look he gives officials when he doesn’t get a call. He has been childish man since he stepped on an NBA court. I applaud him for what he did in Cleveland; two MVP’s and a trip to the NBA Finals.
But let’s face it: James has never accomplished anything of any real significance. It’s obviously obvious that he has never won a title, but can you say that throughout his career that he has been a team player? Just because he averages seven assists per game doesn’t mean he is a good teammate. I have seen many great players rack up assists while not elevating their teammates to the next level. Kevin Garnett was like that for as long as he was a Timberwolf. He was able to cover-up his teammates deficiencies enough to make it to the playoffs every year, but never made it to the Finals and was only good enough to get out of the first round one time.
If Miami beats the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight, I will have no choice but to call LeBron the “best player” in the NBA and it will be well-deserved, too. Like I mentioned earlier, his two, now three, MVP’s don’t do anything for me because I don’t think you play a professional sport to earn individual accolades, unless it’s golf or tennis. In a team sport sense, it’s about said team, not the person. The teams LeBron has been on in his career haven’t been the greatest, but did he ever elevate his teammates? Even this year, I think some of his teammates are elevating his level of play. Seeing Shane Battier sink five three-pointers in Game 2 would inspire me to do everything I can to help my team win. Watching Norris Cole go from zero minutes to scoring eight points in the first half and then, having Mario Chalmers help you by dropping 25 points on the Thunder in Game 4 would really have me inspired. That’s not to say it’s only a one-way street. I think LeBron has elevated some of those performances, too. It truly is a give-and-take world.
Another difference I have noticed about LeBron is this: he is acting like he wants it. I don’t like comparing him to Michael Jordan because after watching “The Dream Team” documentary last night, I was reminded how competitive Jordan was in his career. LeBron doesn’t have that intensity and you can’t blame him for that because I think that’s something your born with; either you do want it or don’t want it. Every game Miami plays, I am anxious because I can just see what LeBron is going to do and, now, it’s total domination.
But it doesn’t take much to change my opinion about LeBron and what he has done in the playoffs, so far, has been very refreshing. I appreciate it when one of the best players in the league is able to step-up his game and perform to his abilities. He has made very few mistakes in the process and hasn’t been afraid of failing. He has been a “closer” in every game that Miami has needed him. He has even made big shots. More importantly, I think he is actually enjoying this moment and realizing that he might never experience it again. What’s that one quote that people always love to say? Oh yes, I remember: live every day like it’s your last. LeBron is playing like every game is his last.
But tonight will be his ultimate challenge. Can he close the final door on his past and open a new door to his future?
A championship would be a nice way to end the first part of a career.
Do you think he can do it?