LeBron James' impressive 45 point, 15 rebound performance in Game 6 against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals is being treated as the ultimate resurrection of James' career. For instance, my Bleacher Report colleague Steven Babb went so far as to say:
Whether the Heat win or lose Game 7, LeBron's Game 6 will arguably remain these playoffs' most defining moment.
What the what?! What if Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant scores 50 in the NBA Finals? What if Rajon Rondo puts up 25 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in tonight's Game 7 at American Airlines Arena?
No. A far more accurate assessment is that any LeBron playoff performance is a "defining moment" for sports bloggers.
This recycled LeBron James resurrection narrative is not so much about his game as it is about feeding the digital media tidal wave. One day it's invective. One day it's lavish praise.
Oh where, oh where, has the actual basketball game gone?
LeBron James' performance in Game 6 was tremendous, but it's arguably not even the best one of the series.
That honor could go to Rajon Rondo's 44 point, 10 assist, eight rebound output over 53 minutes of play in Game 2. Notably, each minute was tightly contested. Moreover, in the fourth quarter and overtime, Rondo demanded the ball and kept making key plays.
LeBron James' Game 6 performance was also not the best playoff performance in the NBA Conference finals.
That performance was just days ago when Kevin Durant, in his own Game 6 with the Oklahoma City Thunder down by 15 points to the San Antonio Spurs in the third quarter, scored 34 points on 17 shots and brought in 14 rebounds.
Once again, that game was within three points until the last minute, against a Spurs team playing at a very high level. Durant just kept making buckets.
See a running theme here? Let's get the facts straight about this latest LBJ resurrection:
- The Heat were up by 13 by halftime, and not once in the second half did the Celtics really mount a serious comeback.
- The Celtics were lethargic and weary all night. Their three future Hall of Fame Players—Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce—shot a miserable 10 for 33 from the field.
- The Celtics shot one for 14 from the three-point line.
- The last six minutes of the fourth quarter, in which the Heat were routinely up by 15-plus points, required not a shred of clutch from LeBron.
These hype-laced stories about LeBron James' resurrection in Game 6 are nothing more than blogger- planting for the next mega LeBron headline. If LeBron wins, Game 6 operates as a digi-media momentum builder. If LeBron loses, Game 6 exalts LeBron high enough to make his plummet more interesting.
At the end of the day, however, it's like this: LeBron James had a monster game that was over early in the fourth quarter. Yes, James' performance was outstanding. But what fans want from James is to more frequently take control of and win tightly contested fourth quarter games in key playoff contests.
Let's see James do that tonight in Game 7. And again in the NBA Finals against "King Comeback," Kevin Durant. Only then will a LeBron resurrection story truly be consistent with the facts.