Dear Mr. James,
What's your problem?
Seriously, I mean it. What's the deal with you?
Over the past two weeks I've seen you submit some truly dominant performances, lighting up the scoreboard with 30+ points and a handful of assists and rebounds to boot. There were moments in this postseason where just one play from you caused me to begin dreaming of a championship parade through Euclid Avenue in downtown Cleveland.
Now? I'm certainly picturing playoff-induced riots, but not exactly celebratory ones.
Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals just came to an end a few minutes ago. Of course, this is all based on assumption as I've been channel surfing for the last hour trying to find something, anything, more entertaining than the garbage you put on display tonight.
Once again, you and the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers took the court with a chance to steal momentum back from the Boston Celtics and perhaps land a crucial dagger in the series. And once again, you instead came out passive, uninspired, and overall heartless.
For some reason, instead of driving the lane, shredding through defense on your way to a monster dunk or acrobatic layup, you instead took two steps in from the 3-point line and just passed it away. It was the third time in this series alone that the most explosive player in the NBA limited himself to being a below-average long-range jump-shooter.
I must say I'm confused beyond belief to say the least.
Why? Oh, I don't know. Perhaps its your history of always elevating your already stellar style of play to a whole new level come postseason. How memories of your back-and-forth battle with Paul Pierce in Game Seven of the 2008 Eastern Conference Semifinals or your absolute domination of the Pistons in Game Five of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals were dancing through my head as this year's postseason began.
Or maybe its all the articles I've read about the anger and motivation you felt after losing to the Orlando Magic last year. How this was going to be the year you were going to achieve your goal of winning an NBA championship. And how there would be no smiling and goofing around during this year's playoffs because it was all about focusing on the task of bringing the city of Cleveland its first title since '64.
Or, and this is just a complete stab in the dark, but maybe its because your the MV-freaking-P of the NBA. In case you've forgotten, that means you're the most valuable player in the entire league, an award that isn't really handed out to the Wally Szczerbiak's of the world.
I guess, LeBron, you could say that any one of the aforementioned reasons is why I'm so perplexed about this incredibly gutless slew of performances you've been dishing out lately.
And I know, the entire sports-media world will be trying to convince me that your "ailing" elbow is the source of all this downgraded play.
But, if I recall, didn't you come out and say that it was no excuse for you having a poor performance? Didn't you say that you were a "no excuse" player who would own up to a bad game and not blame it on a joint that may or may not be affecting your play?
I'll give you credit, LeBron, in the fact that you aren't bringing up the elbow injury in your postgame comments.
What does bug me, though, is how you're instead discussing your lackadasical showing with literally no sense of urgency. In fact, after the terrible losses in both Game 2 and Game 4 of this series, you seemed pretty convinced that you had a pretty solid day on the court.
I can assure you, this wasn't the case.
I'm also sure that fingers will be pointed at your teammates for lack of significant help. However, even that won't fly, not tonight anyways.
Sure, Mo Williams has been a huge letdown again and Shaquille O'Neal is hardly the man he used to be. But despite all that, I've seen in them one thing I haven't from you for most of this series—effort.
It may not always result in anything but missed shots and offensive fouls, but at least they're trying. The same can't be said for you.
I'm a Cleveland fan, Mr. James. My one dream in life is to see at least one team in this city bring home a championship. I, like every other person who was booing the crap out of you tonight, think you have the talent to finally bring this dream to life.
I used to think you understood the importance of these title dreams. Now, I'm not so sure.
Let's get one thing straight, LeBron. I don't want to see you bail on the city of Cleveland. I already can't stand hearing the words "Art" and "Modell" in the same paragraph. I don't think I can handle another arch-nemesis.
But this lazy and careless playing style you've adapted has no place here. Feel free to send that to New York instead (like it wouldn't fit in perfectly with the Knicks).
I mean seriously, aren't you the same man who once went to the NBA Finals by single-handedly dragging a team filled with players like Drew Gooden, Sasha Pavlovic, and (ugh) Larry Hughes? You do realize that, while not perfect, the team you're on is infinitely better than any you've ever been on before, right?
In the end, after you and your team trudged off the court tonight in front of the fifteen fans who stayed at the game simply because they realized doing so was actually the best way to beat traffic, the feeling I felt was not one of anger and disappointment.
No, all I felt tonight was disgust and disbelief. Disgust in the way you've turned into a shell of what you used to be for reasons that go beyond me. Disbelief in the fact that this is the same man who apparently looked each teammate in the eye before the playoffs began and told them it was time to step up and give it everything they had.
To stand in front of your team make a statement about the importance of the playoffs takes real leadership. To be the only one who completely ignored said statement takes sheer arrogance.