“At the end of the day,” James said, “all the people who want to see me fail, they gotta wake up tomorrow and have the same life they had when they woke up today. Same personal problems they had today. I am going to continue to live and do the things I want to do and be happy with that.”
There is no quote from the playoffs that better summarizes why LeBron James is as bad a marquee player as the NBA has ever had. To him, NBA fans have personal problems that they have to live with. He has none.
To minimize this horrible commentary, in the midst of the worst economic times of almost every US citizen's life, is to treat James as he has been treated throughout his already impossibly valuable career—some wondrous person whose personality should be ignored, whose self-promotion and self-adulation should be treated as yet another gift from him to us.
Yet despite "King" James' personality and disrespect for everyone other than himself, one is left with the sense that the NBA and its officials wanted at least a Game 7, and LeBron James a champion.
You were warned that there could be a change in officiating in this, Game 6 of the NBA's annual select-a-team format. Despite what appeared fairly even officiating in Games 4 and 5, Dallas was getting hammered by the NBA referees. They called foul upon foul on any Dallas Maverick they found close to any Miami Heat player.
At one point, the officiating was so lopsided the Miami Heat had taken 20 more foul shots than the Dallas Mavericks. Although no tally seems to exist of foul shooting imbalance in any game, much less the playoffs and Finals, this had to be close to if not a record.
The getting was so good, Dwyane Wade got a technical for objecting to the failure of one referee to make yet another phantom call. He thought he deserved the call—just like the Miami Heat deserved to win the championship.
If only the Miami Heat had made their foul shots. The outcome would have been different if they had been close to their regular foul shooting selves.
But Miami did not make its shots, with LeBron James one of the key culprits at critical times in the game.
And the Miami Heat went down in Game 6, missing far too many of these gifts from the NBA directly to their apparently chosen team and star.
So we were able to see LeBron James as he has been. The real LeBron James. Not masked by the hype. Not created more than equal. Certainly not better than Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry and the real team playing in these playoffs.
This is the same player who intentionally bumped his head coach very hard when being taken out of a game this season.
The same player who focused on himself and his offense when talking about his failings and how they made his team lose.
The same player who scored like Michael Jordan in his one past NBA Finals.
The same player who was an NBA MVP twice in his career.
In the end, we have to think that the Force was with the Dallas Mavericks and their lopsided fans in this, one of the greatest NBA Finals ever played. Good played against evil, and good won.
In the end, the Miami Heat showed disrespect towards everyone else in the NBA, and they got their due.
There is no automatic berth in the NBA championship. No automatic championship. No "best in the NBA" that ranks above team.
There are many lessons to be learned from the 2011 NBA Finals.
True champions are made, not born.
Natural physical talent does not triumph over hard work and focus.
There is no "I" in team.
And there is nothing worse than an immature, self-centered personality who has been given everything in life and has no respect for everyone else who has less.
Yes, LeBron, we will go back to our meaningless, horrible and very tough times. We will see the same things we did yesterday.
But there is one place where you are dead wrong.
We will rejoice all year over the Dallas Mavericks' victory.
We will remember these Finals above most others because the team that could never win beat three of the five or six best players money could buy.
We will remember Jason Kidd, blessing Dallas with his 38-year-old presence as a point guard in his mature approach to finally winning his championship.
We will remember Dirk Nowitzki, a great player disrespected by the sports media and other players for years, looking at his shooting coach who had been with him for about half his life, whose eyes brimmed with tears and heartfelt love.
We will remember Jason Terry, thanking God after his Game 5 win and rejoicing in a loving hug with his teammate and fellow sufferer Dirk Nowitzki after going back and in perfect symmetry beating Miami with the same 4-2 margin.
We will remember Mark Cuban, in a gesture so much in contrast with his public image, bringing the founder of the Dallas Mavericks with his wife to the podium to accept the NBA championship trophy from David Stern.
We will remember self-effacing Rick Carlisle finally smiling on the podium, a soft-spoken coach who knew how to win championships and is now one of the very few coaches who have won an NBA championship as a player and a coach.
We may, from time to time, reflect on the player who disrespected us all so much that he made fun of our lives and smugly relished the great life he has in these tough times.
But only when we want to teach our children who not to emulate—who not to be like.
And who, in the end, is an example to us all of unacceptable arrogance and self-focus in a world that needs none of you or any of that conduct ever again.