LeBron James and His Stunning Disappearance in the 2011 NBA Finals
Right now, LeBron's gone into hiding. When the ball does come his way he looks petrified.
His only points he has scored in the last two fourth quarters were in garbage time. The moment he gets the ball, he's looking for Wade or Bosh to give it back to as if he's some sort of 14-year-old, seldom-used role player in church league ball and doesn't want to disappoint all the parents.
The thing is the parents—in this case all of South Florida—aren't saying, "Come on, LeBron. Give it to Dwyane and Chris so we can win," like overbearing, win-at-all-costs parents sometimes do. No. They are shouting, "SHOOT! DRIVE! DO WHAT YOU DID IN CLEVELAND!"
Instead, if Bosh and Wade aren't open, James freezes. Rather than blow by his defender on the way to a monster dunk, he panics and throws up exceedingly questionable shots. Each three looks like it's farther back from the next.
At this rate, at some point during Game 6 LeBron is going to stop handling the ball past half court at all.
(Side Note: Did you see how easily and gracefully he scored with 30 seconds left. He suddenly reappeared, demanded the ball and put his head down. It's that easy.)
The maddening part is it's just not like him. The question that everyone has been asking as far back as Game 5 in the Celtics series last year against Cleveland is "where'd the old LeBron go?" The guy who would take subpar talent (that's putting it nicely), put them on his back and dominate the opposing team one-on-five if he had to.
Will the Heat Still Win the Series
The LeBron James we knew and loved. You know, the Cleveland one who would blow by his man on the way to the hole? It didn't matter who or how many defenders you threw at him, LeBron was dropping 40.
Remember in the 2009 playoffs when Cleveland lost to Orlando in the Eastern Conference finals? LeBron's playoff low was 25 points!
Compare that to this year and it's almost shocking. Over his last three games, LeBron is averaging 14 points a game (17, eight and 17). It's no wonder Miami is losing the series.
When DeShawn Stevenson and Jose Juan Barea take turns out-scoring our equaling the output of your two-time MVP in consecutive games, you've got problems.
Those who defend LeBron will point to the fact that he had a triple-double and that with the other Big components; LeBron doesn't have to be the star like in Cleveland.
However, did anyone really notice his stats? That was the quietest triple-double in Finals history, maybe even in playoffs history.
Yes, he does have to dominate. Miami is losing! The Heat are now facing elimination and D-Wade needs help!
If someone told me at the beginning of the game that LeBron would have a triple-double, I would have imagined the outcome to be something like Miami 112, Dallas 103 and LeBron's stats as 46 PTS, 14 REB and 10 AST.
Dallas is happy to let LeBron grab 10 boards and let him feed Bosh and Haslem 10 dunks if he only scores 15 points.
You know why? Because the Mavs have a player who can match that in Jason Kidd.
But when you are comparing Kidd and LeBron in the same sentence, you know Miami is in trouble because James is infinitely better than Jason Kidd, even an in-his-prime Kidd.
LeBron James isn't just the best player on the court—he's the best in the league and one of the best of all time.
Until he realizes that, stops playing scared and seizes the moment, we are going to forget about yet another James Finals appearance, much like we have already forgotten about his triple-double, as both will result in losing efforts.
Can LeBron turn it around when his team needs it most?
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