Win Or Lose: It's On LeBron James' Back

Peter LomuscioCorrespondent IMay 7, 2010

CHICAGO - APRIL 25: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers watches from the bench as his teammates take on the Chicago Bulls in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at the United Center on April 25, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cavaliers defeated the Bulls 121-98. 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 Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It is getting mighty tiring hearing about the countless excuses that arise every time everything doesn’t go LeBron James’ way.


The prematurely crowned “King” James has been praised and treated like royalty ever since his NBA debut. But what hasn’t sunken in yet is the fact that with great power comes great responsibility.


After watching Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Boston Celtics it was quite apparent that LeBron was up to something. He was far less aggressive and passive on the offensive end of the court.


Some may point this onto his nagging elbow injury, but there are clear moments throughout the game where his elbow seems to be completely fine.


No one wants to see him fly down the court to throw a block as hard as he can off the backboard no problem and then hold his elbow seconds later when he is beaten by his man.


Nobody wants to see him nail a jumper routinely with no abnormal hitch from his routine and look fine and then put his grimace face on when the jumper doesn’t hit the next time down the court.


Now we can’t say how hurt LeBron’s elbow really is, because as far as what has been diagnosed and revealed there isn’t much there for us to examine.


But as a competitor, LeBron James obviously compares himself and wants to outdo his NBA counterparts across the league. Even though it was been basically accepted that LeBron has passed Kobe in current form, should it really be so unanimous?


Could LeBron have listened to Kobe’s recent interviews and watched his recent play about how he has forced his opponents to “pick their poison”?


Is that why LeBron was so passive and forcing passes instead of taking charge at the offensive end in Game 2?


Was he trying to top Kobe at his own game?


That could be looking into it too far, but in Game 3 tonight and the rest of this tough series against this veteran Boston Celtic squad, LeBron has to stay aggressive and attack the rim. It is the strength of his game and even when he fails to convert, he tends to get to the line and get the Celtics in foul trouble the majority of the time.


This then leads to where LeBron needs to improve down the stretch and that is converting the big free throws and developing a much better utilized mid-range game.


It can’t always be barrel to the hoop or launch a three-pointer for LeBron. James needs to develop another effective option to his predictable style that has prevented him from breaking through late in games in the playoffs when his team’s season is on the line.


But hobbled or not, it is time for LeBron to live up to his massive expectations and be given the blame just as much as he is given the credit. It is time for the media to quit bowing down to the “King” and start getting on his back for not leading his complete team to the promised land.


The supporting cast has done what is expected of them. It is LeBron’s job to take control and lift his team to another level.


If one wants to be seen as one of the greatest players to play the game and want to be compared to a legendary figure like Michael Jordan, then there isn’t such thing as the excuse of teammates not doing their part.


Yes, basketball is obviously a team sport, but it’s all on the line and it is time for a big run or a crucial time of the game, that’s when its time for the great players to take complete command of the game.


Legends never look for excuses, and the way LeBron has been anointed into the legendary world of basketball history already whether you find it properly earned or not gives him a heavy expectation to live up to.


When reviewing supporting casts, it can always get dicey, as a role player's value goes up rather significantly once they get their taste of a championship. Whether they deserve the significant rise in value in every case in a completely different case.


LeBron clearly has a better supporting cast than fellow 2003 draft classman Dwyane Wade did back in his championship season, so that excuse is overused and illegitimate.


James is the leader of what can easily be labeled the best team in the NBA and they have the regular season record to prove it.


LeBron has a scoring point guard in Mo Williams who may be inconsistent, but has shown that a hot streak of his own can spark the Cavs to a win, like in Game 1 of this current series against Boston. Does that mean he is responsible to score 20 plus every game? No.


LeBron has a legitimate number two guy in Antawn Jamison, but he isn’t being properly utilized. Jamison barely gets any plays ran for him and yet he still is going for 17 and 7 in the playoffs.


When Scottie Pippen was 33, the same age as Jamison, he was producing a very similar stat line, but Pippen did bring much more to the assists and defensive part of the game.


But if properly utilized, Jamison could easily be going for 24 and 9 a game, as we have seen him produce in past postseasons at a very high level.


Shaquille O’Neal obviously doesn’t anywhere close to resemble the dominant force he was in Los Angeles, but he isn’t that far off from his years with Miami. He still is the physical presence inside, and his post game can still be a game changer when he is getting all the calls his way.


Anderson Varejao and JJ Hickson are two tremendous X-factors that have the ability to change the tide of any game.


Varejao is a second-team All NBA defensive performer and a constant thorn in his opponent’s side on the glass. Hickson is an up-and-comer who progressed big time this regular season and has shown he can be a versatile producer on both ends of the court.


Anthony Parker, Delonte West, and Jamario Moon both bring the potential to be the extra dagger into their opponents.


Parker is expected to be the open three-point executer, while Moon though occasionally streaky from long distance is more known for his athletic and leaping finishing at the rim. West is also a scoring threat every time he has the ball in his hands.


No one is saying LeBron must win this season or it is all over for this tremendous talent, but this offseason could embark a huge crossroads in LeBron’s career. And the longer he keeps falling short when it matters the most, the further his reputation should fall as he is putting his future legacy together.


When it’s all said and done in this postseason and even in the offseason, we will have some clarity on who and what LeBron James is made of.


The season and success of the Cavs doesn’t lie in the hands of a Mo Williams jumpshot or Antawn Jamison scoring over 20 points a game. It is in the hands of “King” James and all his abilities and intangibles.


Will the NBA first-teamer step up to the challenge and fight through the obstacles to deny his critics and earn his way into NBA royalty, or will he continue to live off his individual achievements and created winning image by the media?


Win or lose, will he make the cowardly decision of leaving his home state that has provided him with full support, a great fan base, a more than capable “supporting cast,” a front office that’s willing to do whatever it takes to win, and the ability to become a legendary figure in historic proportion to the city of Cleveland?


What is for certain is that if there is a disappointing end to LeBron and the Cavaliers season, there will be only one place for all the blame to go, and that is the same place all the credit would fall if they won it all, and that is in LeBron’s lap.