For LeBron James and the Miami Heat, it’s been one hell of a season that has had Miami Thrice on the biggest roller coaster ride of their entire lives, and if the incessant media blitz used sticks and stones instead of words—there would be nothing left of LeBron James, but a pile of blood and guts in Miami.
On many occasions, James was the victim of his own questionable behavior and as a result, has become a lightning rod of controversy that started with the infamous “Decision” and Miami Thrice’s ridiculous fireworks introduction.
James is extremely immature for a 26-year-old and there is not much argument in that. What the King did to an entire city of adoring fans (not leaving but how he left) was beyond contempt. But many of his mistakes are a result of being associated with an imbecile by the name of Maverick Carter—a man with way too much power and not enough brains to run James’ kingdom.
On the court, however, James has vindicated himself where vindication should not have been required for such a dominant and talented basketball player—one that fills up the stat sheet like none other in the game today and very few in the history of the game.
The NBA season started off less than spectacularly, as the Heat stars faced an array of trials and tribulations along the way. And in each and every case, the Heat picked themselves up by turning confounding losses into strings of wins.
The Miami Heat have lived up to their part of the Heat-or-Three-peat equation while the L.A. Lakers were swept in the second round by the very same team that the Heat are now going toe-to-toe with in the NBA finals.
First, Miami Thrice was accused of not being able to share the ball—three former No. 1 options and franchise players on the same team was the resounding argument. They proved they could.
Then the Heat were accused of not being able to beat top teams, with less than capable players at center and point guard, an accusation that made a lot of sense. They beat both Boston and Chicago handily to get to the finals.
Even Chris Bosh has proven that he’s not as soft and cuddly in the paint as we all had originally thought.
And again, after beating top teams to get to the finals and playing with a ridiculous kind of dominance that would make him the MVP of Rounds 1, 2 and 3—LeBron James is again under siege for not having a killer instinct in the finals.
His seemingly nonchalant performance in Game 4 versus the Dallas Mavericks and less than spectacular triple-double in Game 5 are pointed to as the evidence.
What exactly is a nonchalant Game 4 performance when you lead your team in both rebounds and assists?
What exactly is a less than spectacular triple-double that happens against an NBA finals participant (Game 5), an event that has not occurred since Jason Kidd accomplished the feat in 2002?
Remember folks, the Dallas Mavericks are the same team that swept Kobe Bryant and the Lakers under the rug—a team that the Heat have already won two games against.
Surely the only criticism facing James is that he has not been as productive in the fourth quarter in the finals series versus the Mavs, but the amount of blame that he is taking is far beyond his share.
And all the accusations that James can’t win the big one are highly exaggerated by the media and should be anticipated by intelligent fans.
Phil Michelson’s ability was questioned at nauseating levels before he won his first PGA championship—an accomplishment that finally silenced his critics. And he was much older than LeBron James is now (he just turned 26).
Other big names that were prodded to death by the media before vindicating themselves included Payton Manning, John Elway and Alex Rodriguez.
We’re in the middle of the NBA finals, the Mavs are leading three games to two and the Heat have lost absolutely nothing yet.
If James doesn’t win it all this year, the predictable aftershock will echo the theme that (like Michelson before him), James is incapable of winning a championship.
Surely someone should compile a list of all the NBA Champions who didn’t win the big enchilada before the tender age of 26—a list that would include Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal, as well as Kobe Bryant, if it were not for Shaquille O’Neal.
As you can see, James is in some very exclusive company.
And what about the other list of NBA greats that have never won a championship, including the likes of Karl Malone, John Stockton, Patrick Ewing and Dominique Wilkins?
If James manages only two championships in his career, he would already be way ahead of the curve, and he has time on his side.
Critics have been on Kobe Bryant’s case all year for hogging the ball and taking too many shots. These same critics are prodding at James for not shooting enough and being too much of a facilitator.
The dynamic that James brings to the Heat is immeasurable. He not only fills up the stat sheet, but he also makes his teammates better, especially through the constant double teams.
The Miami Heat are down by only one game in the NBA finals against the Dallas Maverick and the next game is at home in Miami. Losing the next game will be the end of the season.
But if Miami can win the next game, they will gain enough momentum to win the series. The only thing James needs to do to make that a reality is to prevent his nemesis, Shawn Marion, and his stellar and extremely underrated man-on-man defense from getting under his skin.
Surely Marion should be commended for preventing the LeBron James explosion in the finals—the only reason James has been held as much in check as possible.
But James can do it. JUST DO IT!
Certainly, stranger things have happened.