This Spotlight Is Not for LeBron James

Leslie MonteiroSenior Analyst IJune 8, 2011

DALLAS, TX - JUNE 07:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat looks on against the Dallas Mavericks in Game Four of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Center on June 7, 2011 in Dallas, Texas. 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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

With a few seconds left in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, Dwyane Wade threw the ball to Mike Miller, who missed a three-pointer that would have sent the game to overtime.

No one can blame Wade for not throwing it to LeBron James, who was disengaged and disinterested in his eight-point performance.

James’ approach cost the Heat a victory as the Mavericks evened the series at two in an 86-83 victory at Dallas.

With all due respect to the gritty Mavericks, this was all about James. That always seems to be the case whether the Heat win or lose.

It’s inexcusable to see a star of his ilk just stand around and do nothing. This wasn’t the first time he did this in this year’s NBA Finals. He did the same thing in the last two games of the Finals.

This did not go unnoticed by CBS’s Gregg Doyel, who asked James a great question about why he is shrinking in the fourth quarter after Game 3. Not surprisingly, the Heat superstar did his usual passive-aggressive act by saying if the writer looked at what he did on defense, he would ask a better question.

Well, there was no defense for this disgraceful performance. Not only did he do nothing on offense, James wasn’t defending either. His defense resembled Nate Robinson’s defense, which is standing around and doing nothing.

The way he played last night was worse than what he did in Game 6 against the Celtics last year, which was an elimination game. At least James tried to be assertive in that game, but he did not make the shots to lead the Cavaliers to victory.

He had no interest in trying last night. He felt he had enough confidence in Wade to help him get by.

That was why he made the decision to take his talents to South Beach. The message was clear. He did not want to be the go-to guy on his team anymore, and he did not want the burden of being the face of the franchise anymore. He wanted to be known as a guy who can just fit in with Wade.

This is embarrassing for a guy who was hyped up to be the next Michael Jordan. This is a fall from grace. It’s surprising how of all this unfolded for him.

In his first few years in the league, he enjoyed being the man in these spots. He wanted the ball. He wanted to be the difference maker. He was doing a good job in that situation.  He wasn’t perfect, but since he was relatively new to the league, he was doing fine.

No one blamed him for his failures in his first few years. They looked at him as a guy who was learning the game. It wasn’t a big deal.

After the Cavaliers bowed out in the playoffs the last two years, James decided it wasn’t worth it anymore. He thought being a one-man team was a burden.

This is a bad approach for a guy who is being marketed heavily by the NBA. He is supposed to provide leadership with his star status, but that’s not the case anymore.

Not only has he stunk on the court, he also came up lame in his press conference. He failed to take accountability by saying he stunk. He came up with excuses for what went wrong.

His rationale to his bad performance did not make sense. He talked about how his shots did not go in, which is odd considering he didn’t bother to take shots in Game 4. He talked about how he has to do a better job of being assertive offensively when he did not make an effort to do so.

He also said he would have been happy with scoring eight points if it meant victory.

It sounds like this guy is oblivious to what he was doing out there. This is another example of him not getting it. Instead of mumbling through the press conference or coming up with silly clichés, he should have just said that he stunk and he will be more aggressive on Thursday.

If he said those things, he would earn some respect. Folks like stars being accountable for their bad performances. Great players such as Kobe Bryant, Jason Kidd, Dirk Nowitzki, Michael Jordan and Wade were not ashamed to call themselves out if their performance was unacceptable.

With James, he is too insecure to admit he is failing. He always has to be defensive, and cover up his mistakes.

Win or lose the NBA Finals, this isn’t going away. This will not change the perception that he would rather play second fiddle to another star on the team. This will not stop critics from getting on him.

Winning a championship should change how a player is perceived, but in the case of James, that’s not happening. Not when he took the easy way out. Not when he is not making an impact in these Finals.

Maybe James didn't want to be considered a star anymore. Based on his play on the court and his mannerisms, that is certainly the case. He doesn’t seem to get wrapped up about all this like basketball fans and the media are.

For him, he wants basketball to be all fun and games. He doesn’t want this to be a referendum on his all-time ranking.

If he had his way, people would leave him alone and just accept him for what he is.

Maybe it’s time for all of us to stop celebrating him as a great player and look at him as a role player that is along for the ride.