James has said he no longer wants to be the villain and that the game is fun again
When LeBron left Cleveland, a counter culture took over hating everything he said or did on the way to Miami’s epic Finals loss to Dallas. He was the most commented on athlete in the United States. Possessions at the end of games were scrutinized and picked apart, then scrutinized and picked apart again and again…yes…and again. There was a public personality switch for LeBron. He became guarded in the locker room or at the post game podium like never before. He rarely talked alone after games and Dwyane Wade seemed to be his spokesman.
The jokes stopped. He played the game with a snarl. It seemed he paid more attention to everything negative…perceived and otherwise…after a bevy of potential game winning missed shots. Match ups and possessions were encapsulated to create an every night floor of quicksand density hate stuck in media and fan muck.
LeBron failed during the Finals. He sucked in 4th quarters simply considering his performances vs. the Boston Celtics and then the Chicago Bulls. Miami was prohibitive favorites vs. Dallas but basketball couldn’t have been fun for a man becoming the most hated athlete in America based on a decision he made to leave Cleveland for South Beach. Most likely, it was a good thing there was a lockout and “barnstorming” tour because this off season had to be very difficult after watching Dallas celebrate in Miami.
What would you have done?
Fans have even stooped low enough to make a running joke of his hairline. In this apathy also lives a notion that LeBron has somehow become this bum scrub no one wants to go to in the fourth quarter. The Finals performance was nothing but an aberration and yes a learning experience. I don’t know what was going on with LeBron. I’m not him but an entire season of hearing the same questions over and over would affect every single one of us. He straight up sucked in the fourth quarters of those games and we’ll possibly never know why he sucked the way he did. Being realistic…like normal people actually should…you can best believe LeBron James won’t suck like that in this season’s Finals.
LeBron is just hitting his physical prime. He hasn’t done the most athletic play of his career. You all are hyped about Jerome Simpson…yeah this Jerome Simpson…you better recognize what a physical absurdity LeBron will become.
During the lockout, he and others stayed sharp by playing in various exhibitions across the country. What I noticed with LeBron specifically here in Philly was he was pacing himself. Of course he could have scored 70 and 80 points but he didn’t. It was a work out. He got in and got out. He let others speak to the media but he did interact with fans…those supporting as well as the opposite. Damage control was in full effect but nothing seemed disingenuous in my eyes. Fans are awestruck when LeBron walked on the floor…even if they hated him for Cleveland hating him. At the same time, his coach Erik Spolestra was studying Chip Kelly’s fire burn Oregon offense which at every turn, takes advantage of speed and athleticism advantages over opponents. Miami is getting out on the break. Goodness I can’t imagine how great this team will be if they continue to run as much as they have early.
But did LeBron work on his game this off season? I think any of us would be inaccurate in saying no. Of course the questions of resolve will follow him because of the climatic Finals failure, but it’s up to LeBron to tune all of that out, take care of business and get the quirks out of his game.
Honestly I got a little frustrated when LeBron double pumped and laid it up with a weak soft left. Maybe that was his go to move as a youngster and he relies on it like hes done many times before but he looks absolutely incredible early. There is nothing soft about his game this very second. He’s leading the league in scoring, is doing it all with controlled fury and more importantly, with a June purpose.
This is the year. There is no excuse. If the Heat don’t win the championship, what will be of LeBron?
Miami cannot afford to be Michigan’s Fab Five as sophomores. He can’t go out like that. He has to do whatever it takes outside, down low, at home, on the road, in the locker room, on the bus or plane, at practice, in interviews and most certainly when he’s alone sorting his thoughts to will his team to a championship.
Christmas day against a different Dallas team that won the championship, the Heat ran and ran. They attacked and dunked hard while Dallas was nailed to the floor. LeBron tried to rip the rim down. There was no double pump left handed lay ups in the face of the defense as his feet returned to the court. He used his talented ability to its fullest when driving strong to the hoop or pulling up from deep. He’s hitting bank shots from difficult angles. I’ve noticed he’s quick shooting (keeping ball high and pulling up before defense reacts) over smaller defenders more than ever and who can stop him besides maybe Dwight Howard if he’s on the block posting up?
Will the 17th of February be more subdued than the December 1oth, 2010 return to Cleveland? It appeared the Heat went on a stretch of success after LeBron got that necessity out of the way but will this year be different?
I think so. I think LeBron will take a more chill approach to a return home that won’t have all the drama attached. He will smile more despite some in Cleveland never forgiving him for ripping out their Cavaliers soul. But he promised to win a championship right? Yes he did as have others in their hometown. Unfortunately it didn’t happen and it’s time for everyone involved to move on as quickly as possible.
What I don’t get is folks thinking this has to be LeBron or Wade’s team late. They both sat out with injuries last night and still defeated Atlanta…albeit in triple overtime. So…why can’t they do this as a unit? This team knows how to play together. Norris Cole will be a factor. Chalmers had a near triple double last night with 29 points. Chris Bosh had a major fantasy scoring night with 33 and 14. Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem will scrap and scrap and get that all important 50/50 ball leading to a dunk on the other end just when Miami’s opponent is about to go on a run. This is not all about LeBron James but of course the eyes will be focused on him more than any other player in the league.That’s what sports has become…games are more than the result. Fans want to be entertained. Like it or not. I don’t get it but who am I to judge.
How do you think things will work out? Will the Heat win it all? Do you expect them to? What will hold them back from not accomplishing a much determined goal? Defensively, Miami is swarming.
As the season gets into full South Beach swing and opposing defenders fearful and large get out of the way when normally taking charges, how many wins will the Heat get on the way to 66?
60, yeah I said it, but in the end for LeBron James, Miami being the last NBA team standing is the only thing that matters (A definitive LeBron piece I wrote after Miami won the championship).