52 to 11.
I am going to preface this by saying I didn’t watch all of Game 5 but the beauty of social networking websites and 24 hour sports news networks and league specific channels running on an all day clock make it so that you NEVER have to kick yourself for not setting your DVR.
A few days ago I wrote an article questioning what was eating Lebron James. What could possibly be weighing on his mind that could possibly cause a second consecutive crash and burn for the self-appointed King James? If you believe the internet, then its Rashard Lewis. But Mike Wise had a great line in his Washington Post article which says it best:
“After boxing, nothing affords a naked-eye view of a supreme talent like basketball. Viewers see James’s mood swings, interpret his body language, see the fidgety nibbling of his nails, the primal roar after a malicious slam, and they instantly feel they know him in a way they could never know a helmeted free safety or a masked goaltender.”
And we all feel that instant connection to Lebron James, the most televised athlete in the history of the game. Lebron the phenom came up at just the right time, as social networking was exploding, as tv cameras were following child prodigies around, everyone carrying around smartphones so we would never miss a score, and as DVR’s made it possible for people to NEVER miss an important sports game ever again. So his connection with us is instant. We see everything even this unbelievable footage of Wade and Lebron clowning Dirk and acting as if he were putting on a performance with the reports of a sinus flu.
Yet, the biggest act has been this Lebron James. Whoever this Lebron James is. Is the real Lebron the guy who torched Boston and absolutely destroyed Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls? Or is it THIS James, on the biggest stage of his career and looking about as lost as a kid who walked into the wrong classroom on the first day of school.*
*= not like that ever happened to me
For James haters this is best case scenario: the Heat losing, and Lebron being a shadow in the fourth quarter shrinking under the weight and burden that his talent brings. Who is Lebron James? He’s the most televised athlete of our generation and yet we have no clue what he is. But we will find that out in Game 6 and perhaps Game 7. The law of averages for a talent of his kind suggests that he will get it together, put his skirt away and bring his man pants to American Airlines Arena in Miami on Sunday and help the Heat reclaim some of the lost momentum.
Of course, if they don’t, Lebron may never recover. The camera tells the whole story. Nail biting. Lebron looking around for someone to get this hot potato we call a basketball away from him. The pathetic display of emotion when he creates a turnover. You know, the “I gotta show something here so that fans don’t think I don’t care” look of half ass incredulous-ness.*
*= yeah, I just created a word right there- deal with it!
But if these last few outings have proven anything its this: we now have a clear understanding of who’s the man. Its almost universal that Lebron James is the better player than Dwayne Wade. But perhaps even that discussion is changing and shifting. Because its what have you done for me lately and lately James hasn’t done diddly. Wade, with bruised hip and all, sitting a quarter managed 23 points. Lebron happy to play stat-sheet killer threw up a triple double and still the haters were in full force.
His supporters will run to that argument: are you kidding me? He had a triple double. What else do you want him to do?
The only problem with that argument is he came to Miami because his supporting cast was infinitely better here. Yes, I’m even giving Chris Bosh some props because I can’t be more impressed by him. He can’t fall on that safety crutch that his teammates suck like he could in Cleveland. Dwayne Wade has consistently shown up. He will get the Finals MVP if the Miami Heat win. Chris Bosh has been better than I EVER expected on the glass and he’s been consistent with his jumper. But everyone’s waiting for Lebron to show up.
Don’t count him out either. With his kind of talent you never want to give a guy like that motivation but the Mavs have consistently given him that motivation throughout. Deshawn Stevenson said he quit. Jason Terry dared him to think he could guard him for the next five games like that. These threats should’ve fueled Lebron to have a monster games 4 and 5 and yet, it seemingly deflated him even more. The thought process here is this: what’s going on that Lebron can’t seem to focus? Where is Lebron James when his team needs him?
Physically its tough to miss him, mentally he’s miles away. In his mind, the Heat have won the title and he’s playing pick up games with Jason Kidd and Jason Terry. He probably hasn’t seen the huge banner that reads FINAL on it. This is it Lebron. Make or break. Its about that time.
Oh wait, he said that too.
Now all this is making sense. Lebron wasn’t teaming up with Wade, he was running to Wade. Lebron said it perfectly: he was taking his talents to South Beach to be Wade’s lackey. It makes sense that Scottie Pippen, always jealous of Michael Jordan and never able to do what he did, would dis Michael to give props to Lebron. Because he sees everything in him that he saw in Lebron. He wants everyone to make THAT comparison. Lebron is Scottie 2.0. And ya know what Scottie? You’re right. He is. He’s Karl Malone 2.0. He’s freaking Shawn Kemp 15.0 (i mean he has a lot of baby mama drama doesn’t he?). Yep, he’s the evolution of the talented Superstar with one glaring thing missing: that ring.