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Miami Heat versus Dallas Mavericks. LeBron James versus Dirk Nowitzki.
Both players have been to the NBA Finals only once in their careers. Both players came up empty-handed.
This postseason, LeBron and Dirk have had very impressive runs. Dirk’s offensive numbers have been outrageous, while LeBron has wowed us with his clutch late-game shots and his all-around performance.
LeBron is averaging an astounding 26 points, 8.9 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.7 steals a game during the playoffs. He has stepped up in big moments on both offense and defense.
In the conference semifinals, he finally conquered his long-time nemesis—the Boston Celtics. Against the Bulls, LeBron was not only the best offensive player on the court, but he took on the challenge of defending—and shutting down—Derrick Rose.
LeBron hasn’t played in the Finals since he and his Cavaliers were swept by the Spurs in 2007. LeBron has waited four long years to get back to the big stage and now stands only four victories away from winning his first NBA title.
Can he silence his doubters and prove to the world he truly is a champion?
If he outplays Dirk, the Heat will go home with the ring, and LeBron will start being mentioned among the greatest to ever play the game.
If he doesn’t, LeBron will continue to be known as a very good player who couldn’t win when it really mattered.
Either way, the ball is in his court. How will he respond?