Before last night’s game four, LeBron James and his Miami Heat teammates gathered around. The teammates encompassed LeBron in a circle as he fabricated deft prevarications.
LeBron deserves to be scrutinized. He lamented his emotions to his teammates, calling last night’s game a must win (it wasn’t — I believe Miami is in control of the series), basically telling them that every possession should be approached as the last.
LeBron scored 8 points. Let’s ignore the assists and rebounds for the time being. LeBron scored 8 points and only shot 11 times. Do you know what I thought? Two things:
1.) What in the hell is up with LeBron James?
2.) Where in the hell is LeBron James?
I’ve defended LeBron throughout the playoffs. Every time I hear a fan or hater say that he can’t close out a game, I shake my head. LeBron closed out the Boston Celtics in multiple games. LeBron closed out the Chicago Bulls in multiple games, especially in the final game five when he scored the last 8-10 points of the game.
LeBron deserves some criticism today, but let’s stop defining his legacy on a 24-hour, game-to-game basis. I believe that LeBron might be the only athlete in the history of team sports to have his legacy constantly change each and every single day. One day he’s a great closer…the next day he can’t close. Let’s not get it twisted. Magic Johnson had some atrocious games in his career — Larry Bird had extremely important playoff games that saw him only score 6 and 8 points. Magic and Larry were superstars.
Dwyane Wade missed the most important free throw of his career with 30 seconds left in the game. He also turned the ball over.
Let’s platoon roles, shall we? Let’s say that instead of Wade missing the free throw and turning it over at the end of the game, let’s say that LeBron James did that. With the media already scowling and howling, hootin’ and harrin’ and jeerin’ LeBron, just think about how much scrutiny he would be facing now. A common retort to that would be, “Well, Wade was actually scoring! LeBron wasn’t!” That’s true, but it still doesn’t erase the fact that LeBron would be facing a lot more hell from people today if he had been the one screwing up in the end.
Is LeBron tired? That’s hard to say. He’s been averaging about 44 minutes a game during the Finals. Still, there’s no excuse. He needs to be hitting what he was hitting against the Celtics and the Bulls. He and Wade need to devise ways to stop going 1-on-5 separately and start being creative. Dallas is pulling out MacGyver-esque tricks. Three straight games that have come down to the last shot. It could have easily been a 3-0 series lead for Miami going into last night, but today it’s 2-2 and we are going to see these two teams go at least six games. What a ride.
It’s already an unwritten rule of thumb that LeBron is going to have to be a lot more commanding and risky (by risky I mean taking more shots) in game five. What’s he going to do? He better get his ass in sync with his teammates. I saw Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller taking a few too many shots at the end of last night’s game while LeBron was measly facilitating. That’s not going to win a championship.
Whatever the case that’s going on with LeBron, it’s crazy how much hell a 26-year-old basketball superstar is catching from the media.
LeBron, what’s it gonna be for game five and the rest of the series? The media wants to know. The media is giving you an ultimatum: Show up or be shot down.