I was in Atlantic City this past Thursday night, at A Dam Good Sports Bar. It is a great place to watch a game and have a good time.
If you are a LeBron James hater, it's an even better place to watch and have a good time. As I walked into the bar, I could already tell how the night was going to be: Loud obnoxious fans cheering for the Mavericks and cheering AGAINST anything LeBron and the Heat did.
Why do I get the feeling that this is how it is across the globe? Maybe because that is how it is across the globe.
So I stood in an area where I would have no impaired view of the game. To my left, four Dallas Mavericks fans, one Dirk Nowitzki jersey. To my right, two more Dallas Mavericks fans, no jerseys.
And then there was me and my group of friends, only two of us really rooting for the Heat, the rest somewhere in between "get me another beer" and "Oh My God, you guys, this is my JAM."
As the night went on and it became apparent that LeBron and the Heat were not going to win this game, the place seemed to get louder and louder. Then, finally, when Jason Kidd hit his dagger three that basically sealed the game, the place erupted. I thought that this was the loudest that it could possibly get, being that the three basically clinched the game for the Mavericks.
But then something interesting happened. The next time down the floor, LeBron received a pass from D-Wade and leaned his body into the defender underneath the basket, shot the lay-up, drew the foul, and the ball went through the basket.
The only jerk that you could hear was me, cheering the alleged LeBron and-one.
Three seconds go by.... and you see Joey Crawford put his hand on the back of his head, and his other hand out in front. Charge.
The place erupted again, this time even louder.
Dallas eventually went on to win the game, and the 4th-quarter woes continued for LeBron and the Heat. But what was interesting to me, more so than the game, were the reactions of the "fans" that were at this bar.
The NBA fans watching this game seemed more eager to cheer for a LeBron foul-up, or a LeBron miss, rather than cheer on the team that they like to win the game.
This got me thinking. Does the casual (or diehard) NBA fan want LeBron to fail more than they want their team of choice to win? It is a fascinating aspect of the Finals to think about.
Think about it yourself; are you rooting more for LeBron to screw up and score 2 points in the last two fourth quarters, or Dirk Nowitzki's Mavericks to beat the Heat outright? Based on my experience from A Dam Good Sports Bar (awesome name by the way), the general public is cheering more for the LeBron screw-up.
In a world in which every person thinks they are a sports analyst and believe they know everything about the games they are watching, in a world of Twitter and real-time media, it's unbelievable to think that people would rather see a great player fail, then see another great player win his ring.
It's unfortunate, really, that we can't just sit and enjoy two great teams playing the most entertaining Finals in five years. Game 6 and 7 (YES, I said AND 7) will be awesome, and I can't wait to watch.
But I know I will be rooting for great basketball and cheering great basketball plays, not focusing my attention on one player and hoping he fails.
OK, I will be focusing my attention on LeBron, who am I kidding?
Now a few things I expect to see in Game 6 (or things we should see, can never bank on Erik Spoelstra to make great tactical decisions).
1. If LeBron isn't going to take the initiative and score the basketball, then he HAS to shut down the league's hottest player right now, Dirk Nowitzki. It is mind-boggling to me that we've played five games already and we have not seen LeBron James guard Dirk on a consistent basis.
The world's most talented and crafty defender has to guard the world's craftiest offensive player. It's just common sense. Why do I have a feeling Pat Riley will sit a little closer to the bench this game?
2. If Miami is going to win this series, it has to be Dwyane Wade and it has to be now. End of story. He needs 35-40.
3. If Dallas is going to win this series, it has to be tonight. Game 6. If they let Miami get this one, then it's no holds barred for Game 7. I don't want to face a Miami crowd, D-Wade and maybe an inspired LeBron in Game 7 if I'm the Mavericks.
4. I would like to see LeBron post at the foul line, and create from there. He starts with the ball way too far away from the basket and gives the Mavericks time to set up their zone defense, and this is why he passes up the ball every drive. Stick him on the foul line, and let him create.
5. These are the match-ups that Miami has to defend with in the 4th quarter: LeBron-Dirk, Wade-Terry, Chalmers-Kidd, Bosh-Marion, Haslem/Anthony-Chandler.
6. If they don't want to do that, then why not switch up and play a match-up zone in the 4th quarter? It's something Dallas hasn't seen yet, so how do they react to it? Let LeBron roam free on defense and rotate accordingly. It really doesn't take a rocket scientist to coach basketball. Especially when you have LeBron/Wade on your team. Sorry, Erik.
Lastly, let's see overtime. I don't know why. Maybe LeBron will be better in OT. Just kidding. Enjoy the game!