What was billed by many as a coronation for a king may end up being known more for a group of renegades usurping the throne.
The Dallas Mavericks took a 3-2 series lead in the 2011 NBA Finals Thursday night, winning against the Miami Heat 112-103. Dirk Nowitzki scored 29 points, grabbed six rebounds and three assists and Jason Terry scored 17 points, including a back-breaking three-pointer in the last minute to put the Heat one game from elimination.
LeBron James recorded a triple-double in a losing effort with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Once again, his stat line in the fourth quarter was an exercise in ineptitude. James is averaging a paltry 2.2 points in the fourth quarter of the Finals and has scored two or fewer points in each of the last four games. LeBron himself underscored the importance of a Game 5 win for the Heat before tipoff:
"I understand what is at stake. This is a big game, probably the biggest game of my life. I'm approaching it that way. Not probably, it is."
Simply put, LeBron to this point has wet the bed. As I mentioned before the Finals, James had a lot to prove. The only thing he’s proven so far is that DeShawn Stevenson’s neck tattoo of Abraham Lincoln may be channeling the most honest truth about LeBron in the biggest of big moments—that he checks out and is a mental mess with the game on the line. I thought this was fixed in the Boston and Chicago series.
Heat fans should feel gypped. Recording a triple-double in the Finals and not showing up in the fourth quarter when the money is on the line, after “The Decision,” the proclamations of the Heat winning multiple titles and LeBron fanboys who act like the NBA began the day James rolled into town is problematic.
It’s like when you tell a kid to wash the dishes before you go out to run errands, but instead they decide to straighten up their desk, telling you what a good job they did. Well, LeBron has done a good job straightening up the desk, but he really just needs to wash the damn dishes. In other words, show up like a legend is supposed to, ala Magic, Bird, Jordan, Kobe, Wade and Duncan.
When Mario Chalmers is visibly offended that he is being taken out of the game for James, you know there is a problem. Now we wait, because there are only a few things that are going to happen.
1. Either he gets more aggressive and wins these next few games and makes me eat crow. The world stops for a day to crown LeBron James as the greatest basketball player of all time. We replace the new MLK memorial in Washington D.C. and put a statue of James in its place.
2. He loses either one of these next few games and deals with an offseason of people comparing him to John Elway as a tragic hero. People under the age of 25 are confused at this comparison.
3. He wins despite him not being able to deliver and slowly the dissension on the Heat starts growing, in a power struggle regarding whether he or Dwyane Wade really runs the team.
4. He loses, like the kings of old literature, and simply walks away from the game forever, choosing to sell insurance policies that even he can’t cash in Miami.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers fans are happy in scenario No. 2, 3 and 4.
The Miami Heat are in trouble. The “Whore of Akron,” as dubbed by Esquire’s Scott Raab, can’t put out in the fourth quarter.