LeBron James checking things out
There are plenty of reasons and speculative reports to why LeBron James "checked out" as De Shawn Stevenson put it. Some you take with a grain of salt and others you ignore. LeBron James is not faint-hearted—he will bounce back and not sulk in his sorrows.
He will have a big Game 5, but let's reason why he looked out of place in Game 4 first.
Please stop. Stop all the non sense about comparing LeBron to Michael or Larry Bird or Magic Johnson. It has been over done at this point. Can we please just face facts here?
First, LeBron James is LeBron James. Period. End of discussion.
Second, Game 4 is exactly why LeBron James left Cleveland. Wait, I thought he left because he wanted to win titles and he didn't have an adequate supporting cast.
That would be correct. He also left because he was only able to get there once and got swept, albeit by a finely tuned machine from San Antonio. He needed another superstar to carry him to that next level, not vice-versa.
LeBron James went M.I.A. in Game 4. It was pretty hard to watch to be honest. It was like watching a starting pitcher continue to get knocked around and waiting for him to get into a groove. That never happened.
He needs Dwayne Wade more than Dwayne Wade needs him. Let's get that clear. Wade has been seen more than once rallying his troops and instructing his superstar counterparts on the severity of the moment throughout each game.
Wade has been teaching James how to become a champion.
Yes, LeBron pushed this team into the NBA Finals with some clutch 4th quarter performances against the Bulls. Yes, LeBron and Chris Bosh carried the load while Wade tried to find his shooting stroke in the Chicago series.
But hey, that's the luxury of having three all-stars on your team.
The NBA Finals is a completely different plateau. Legends become legends in the Finals.
It takes a different level of physical and mental exhaustion on players and it's starting to show with LeBron. Add in the extra pressure and what seems to be a play-by-play scrutiny nationwide he has to be a little overwhelmed.
Listen to sports pundits across the country and you'll hear a unanimous sentiment. LeBron simply did not seem to be there. There clearly was something going through the back of his mind that inhibited his play in Game 4.
Speculation has come out today that there are issues in LeBron James' personal life that have affected his concentration and ultimately his play. On a stage as big as the NBA Finals you must be 100 percent focused on the task at hand.
It requires every ounce of sweat, every minute of sleep and every train of thought to be focused when it comes game day to be prepared for that nights' game. Stephen A. Smith reported this morning on the Mike and Mike radio show that Lebron's Game 4 woes were of a “personal nature.” Smith went on to insinuate that he knew details about the personal issues but did not care to divulge them.
We don't know the extent of what is going on behind closed doors, but it must be pretty serious. James has been pretty discreet about his personal life, and rightfully so; however, he is a professional. You are paid to go out and play basketball for forty eight minutes.
Mike Miller and his wife gave birth to a new baby during the Chicago series and did not miss one game, physically or mentally.
We do not know how serious things are, or if there really are personal trials going on in his life. Either way he must learn to compartmentalize these things and do his job. Play all-star level basketball.
Stop talking. Lebron will check back in for Game 5
All the LeBron stuff aside for the moment. Give credit to the Dallas Mavericks. That was an ugly game for both teams, but someone had to win.
Dallas needed that game way more than Miami did. Dallas goes down 3-1 and it's over. Zero chance they beat Miami three games straight and twice in a row at Miami. Not happening.
They played great defense, the bench played well and the Mavs starters contributed while Dirk Nowitzki persevered throughout the game with an illness. They kept Miami in check outside of Wade and once again came back in the 4th quarter.
That all being said, LeBron James and the Miami Heat are going to win tonight's game and shut up all their critics. This series in all honesty should be over. Miami has led going into the fourth quarter all four games.
They gave up a fifteen point lead in Game 2 and they gave up a seven point lead in Game 4. This series has and will be won in the fourth quarter.
LeBron James has been quoted that the Heat play best when their "backs are against the wall." For the first time in these playoffs Miami will be playing more than five games in a series. Back against the wall time?
As he has previously said in these Finals, "We watch SportsCenter" and you better believe he hears everyone saying his legacy is tarnished and if he doesn't win MVP that he didn't live up to potential. All that hogwash has left a bitter taste in his mouth this morning, I guarantee you that.
First off, as of right now, Dwayne Wade is the series MVP for Miami. Let's get that straight.
If LeBron James is a competitor (and I think he is), he will come out tonight ready to answer his critics. He will teeter on the edge of a triple double and will be in attack mode. Maybe he'll even take more than just one—yes, one shot—in the fourth quarter as well.
Just a hunch.