NBA Playoffs 2012: Lay off LeBron James, at Least for One Day

Trevor MedeirosCorrespondent IMay 20, 2012

LeBron James put up 40 points, 18 rebounds and 9 assists to power the Heat past the Pacers in Game 4.
LeBron James put up 40 points, 18 rebounds and 9 assists to power the Heat past the Pacers in Game 4.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Before Game 4 against the Indiana Pacers, LeBron James was spotted in the Miami Heat locker room skimming through the popular Hunger Games novel.

Regardless of whether James was literally or figuratively hungry, the polarizing Heat star certainly got his fill on Sunday in Indy. In a must-win situation, James put up a ridiculous stat line, compiling 40 points on over 50 percent shooting from the field to go along with 18 boards and nine assists.

Thanks to the heroics of James, Dwyane Wade and veteran big man Udonis Haslem, the Heat have gone from the brink of basketball apocalypse to being back in the driver’s seat against the Pacers. It’s now a best-of-three Eastern Conference Semifinals and Miami once again has home-court advantage.

Perhaps the best news for Heat fans is the fact that James has rediscovered the aggressiveness in his game that was on full display during his Cleveland Caviler days.

James used his bodybuilder-like physique to attack the rim throughout Game 4 and it paid dividends, especially when the Pacers’ two bigs (Roy Hibbert and David West) were on the bench getting breathers.

This aggression led ESPN’s Magic Johnson to call James’ performance one of the best he’s ever witnessed. Coming from him, that’s saying something.

After watching a game like that where the Heat had their collective backs against the wall, I’m willing to take at least a one-day holiday from my year-round LeBron bashing.

Now don’t get me wrong; I can’t stand LeBron as much as the next guy.

I’m still smitten by the theatrics of The Decision, as well as his overall decision to leave Cleveland for Miami. I can’t stand ESPN’s infatuation with James and find it amusing that he’s still one quarter short of a dollar.

But I can’t hate on the man today. Not after his Game 4 performance.  

After putting up an incredible 40-18-9 stat line, it’s easy to see why King James just secured his third league MVP in the past four years. And you can’t argue that James lacked the clutch gene on this day.

Consider that if James didn’t go off the way he did, the Heat are trapped in a 3-1 hole they likely wouldn’t have climbed out of. You don’t necessarily have to hit the game-winning shot to be clutch, and James proved that with an electric outing in a pivotal game.

I’m sure the LeBron bashing will never truly go away.

Haters like myself and others will continue to poke fun at his “not one, not two” championship declaration, his epic fails in key playoff moments and his sudden infatuation with young adult novels.

But let’s lay off the man for at least one day. James deserves that after his Game 4 heroics.