LeBron James boldly stated before tip-off last night, “Play like your backs are against the wall!”
If James played as if his back was “against the wall” last night, the Miami Heat are in big trouble.
James was not only missing in action in the fourth quarter, he was absent virtually the entire game. He was so invisible I thought head coach Erik Spoelstra would have to file a missing players report to find James.
In Game 3 Dwyane Wade demonstrated he is the true leader of the Miami Heat. Last night he seconded that motion with a heroic effort, even though they came up short in losing 86-83 to the persistent Dallas Mavericks.
Many feel James, being the face of the NBA and all, would come to the Heat and win championship after championship.
Not so fast my friend.
James was not there to step forward because, in my opinion, he does not have the clutch gene.
It is safe to assert that had James come close to doing anything last night, the Heat would be up 3-1 and on the brink of a championship. Instead, James finds himself being ripped by the likes of Chris Bosh.
Who is the true leader of the Miami Heat?
Bosh suggested of James, “He struggled out there. … I want to see him aggressive again. He can turn it up in his aggression a notch.”
Hold your horses everyone. I am not suggesting James is not a great player, because he is. What I am emphatically stating is that he does not have the killer instinct of a Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson or a Larry Bird. For those who do not subscribe to the latter merely ask yourself this question: Where was James in the fourth quarter of Game 3 and all of Game 4?
I am not a LeBron James hater. I am just a truth-teller.
This all goes back to "The Decision" and James "taking his talents to South Beach." The first thing that entered my mind is, "If James is the face of the NBA why should leave his house to occupy another man’s house in Dwyane Wade?"
If James were "the" man he would have players rushing to play with him in Cleveland to bring home a championship rather than take up residence in another star's home.
There is no one answer but one thing is clear: James knew he could not win a ring without Wade but Wade has already won a ring without James. Based on James’ showing the last two games it is clear he is not the true face of the NBA or the leader of the Miami Heat.
Face it folks, 8 points, 7 assists and 9 rebounds is not cutting the mustard in the NBA Finals.
James is a physical beast and one of the most intelligent players to ever play the game but he does not take maximum advantage of his skill-set. How many times has James taken the undersized guards of Jason Kidd and Jason Terry onto the block to score easy buckets or draw fouls?
How many times has he taken anyone on the block this entire season for that matter?
How many times has James dominated the paint on boards in this series as Wade did last night?
In my opinion, each time the ball is tipped up Wade is the best player on the court. He has shown up every game this series and has shown the resolve and commitment to win by scoring, rebounding and blocking shots.
Meanwhile, James finds himself in a tough spot. If the Heat drop this series it will be his fault. If the Heat hoist the trophy, it will be because James needed one of the top three players in the league by his side.
The truth is, both assessments have a measure of truth to it but more telling is this: I cannot remember a marquee player--the face of the NBA mind you—who did not show up during the NBA Finals.
For instance, I could not imagine Jordan leaving the Chicago Bulls to join forces with Isaiah Thomas because he could not get past the Detroit Pistons.
I cannot remember a big game where Jordan did not show up win, lose or draw.
I cannot remember Jordan fielding questions about his commitment to winning or being blasted by teammates for lack of effort.
Sorry folks, but the truth is the light. I no longer have an issue with James leaving Cleveland. He was free to join any team he desired.
Furthermore, I do not necessarily have a problem in how he orchestrated his decision to bolt to South Beach. James fulfilled his contractual obligations. I am no lawyer but I am certain he did not break any laws resulting from his decision to leave.
I do have an issue with the so-called face of the NBA not showing up in key games.
I do have an issue with the self-proclaimed "King James" playing more like a Prince when a warriors' mentality is both warranted and needed to win.
I am fully aware there is more basketball to play. There will be no trophy presentation until someone wins four games.
I am also aware there is time for James to rebound from his Harry Houdini act in Game 4.
Unlike James, Wade does not have to give hyped speeches before tip-off. He simply shows up and does his job. After all, when one's deeds are strong, evident words are not necessary.
Bottom line: If the Heat go down 3-2 their backs will be really “against the wall.”
One thing is certain, the Heat will go as far as Wade can take them.
Email Dexter directly: email@example.com
Follow Dexter on Twitter: @DextersVPoint