LeBron James: Why the South Beach Star's Confidence Is Miami's Biggest Problem

Joye Pruitt@joyethewarSenior Analyst IJanuary 24, 2012

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 21: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat calls a play during a game against the Philadelphia 76ers at American Airlines Arena on January 21, 2012 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

LeBron James has been labeled a choke artist, a narcissist and anything else that would explain his disappearing act from a plethora of fourth quarters he has played. Somehow, the last moments of the game have become the most important and nothing that he has done prior should mean a damn thing.

Even when his first three quarters are atrocious, if he can manage a decent fourth quarter, nothing else matters. He is on the come-up.

Give thanks to the Tim Tebow syndrome for this mental outbreak.

But, watching LeBron play against the Cleveland Cavaliers Tuesday night was probably the most inadequate he has been all season. Despite some big moments he had against his old team, James was practically invisible.

It was Chris Bosh who stepped up to the plate and ended the night with 35 points—almost double LeBron’s point total—seven rebounds and he managed to go 14-of-14 from the line. But, still the light bounces off his monster game so that we can all evaluate what exactly was wrong with the Miami Heat against a Cavaliers’ team that was supposed to be easy money.

A lot of the blame for LeBron’s sometimes putrid performances against lesser teams can only be explained by his mental capacity—more specifically speaking, his confidence. But it is not his lack thereof that should have head coach Erik Spoelstra shaken. It is his boisterous attitude when it comes to notably worse teams in the league that he should be worried about.

Last season when these two teams met for the first time, everyone saw the dog in LeBron. He was furious at how his exit had been treated by the fans that he had helped fill the stands with for seven seasons.

Dec. 2, 2010, LeBron James' stat line: 38 points, 60% FG, 8 assists, 5 rebounds

He is by far the most memorable and the most hated man that once wore a Cleveland Cavaliers jersey, but he played with a soft spot for his former franchise Tuesday night.

After losing to the Milwaukee Bucks, people expected that same hard-up Miami team that comes back and barrels from losses to prove everyone wrong. There is nothing wrong with having fun, but the beast in LeBron always makes for a much better performance, especially when there is no Dwyane Wade to back him up.

Miami came out in the first quarter displaying several of its weaknesses all at once. The Cleveland Cavaliers outscored the Heat, punched them in the mouth consistently with offensive boards, beat them in transition on more than a few occasions and simply played as if they had much more to lose.

How did LeBron do?

There was a play deep into the game where LeBron tried to get flashy and go behind his back through Cleveland defenders. Fighting for their pride as well as a tick in the win column, the Cavaliers forced another turnover.

Those signature blocks LeBron is so known for? Those were invisible while the Cavaliers were making those transition dunks all over the heads of seemingly confused Miami Heat players. The lack of intensity was intriguing and a bit telling as to why Miami is always ailing when it comes to teams it is supposed to defeat.

By not taking these franchises seriously at first glance, LeBron James shoots his team directly in the foot. Now, it was not only his lackluster efforts that put the Cavaliers up multiple times throughout the contest.

But, with Dwyane Wade out and proclamations being made to compare James to some of the greatest men to ever play the game, stepping up and shutting these teams down early would do so much more for a still growing squad.

LeBron is better than this. However, if he allows his confidence to force him to look past teams on his way to his very first NBA championship, it may be much longer before we see him and Wade hold up that trophy after a seven-game series.