The dust has settled. The 2010-2011 season is in the books. The Mavericks and the Heat faced off in the finals. The Mavericks proved victorious over the Heat and won the series in six games. They got to celebrate on Miami's home floor long after LeBron walked dejectedly to the locker room. Chris Bosh cried his way there.
The big three made it to the finals in their first season together. They couldn't manage to win four games against the Mavericks and capture a championship, though. Reaching the finals and then failing on the NBA's biggest stage offers little consolation.
It has been a long ride for LeBron James. He spent seven seasons as the Cleveland Cavaliers' franchise player but could never get over the hump and win a title. LeBron entered the free-agency market after the 2009-2010 season and was aggressively courted by multiple teams.
The stage was set with "The Decision." Millions of people watched breathlessly and waited to find out if James was going to stay in Cleveland or move on.
Cleveland felt that LeBron James broadcasting his decision to the world on national television was a sign that he was staying in Cleveland.
New York felt that James hosting "The Decision" at the Boys and Girls Club in Greenwich, Connecticut, so close to where he might be playing in New York, was a sign that he was coming to New York.
Chicago felt that maybe James going on television was a sign because Chicagoans love to watch television? A lot of people in Chicago felt they had a chance too.
LeBron James decided on the Miami Heat. He would team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to form a trio that would take the world by storm. James promised Cleveland a title and didn't deliver. He went where he felt he could win in Miami and that meant he didn't feel he could win in Cleveland.
The shocking aftermath of "The Decision" was the premature celebration that took place in South Beach. The big three acted like a title would be in the bag and LeBron James jokingly promised seven championships. That's a tall order for a player who promised one to Cleveland and couldn't deliver.
At the time, I was left to wonder why that wasn't a humbling experience. He left the city that loved him for a better shot at winning. He conceded he couldn't win titles in Cleveland by doing so. LeBron James wasn't enough to win a title. Both James and Bosh came to win with Wade in Miami. They had no humility about it. Their celebration just added fuel to the flame of LeBron haters.
The Heat's season started rocky but ended stronger. Miami breezed through the 76ers">Philadelphia series. Boston didn't look much more difficult for them. James and Wade celebrated again like they had just won a championship with two series left. It was another over-the-top showing by the Big Three. Then Miami beat Chicago in five games and were off to the finals.
After clutch shots against Boston and Chicago, everyone was speculating that James really did have a clutch gene. That was short-lived however. James averaged 17.8 points per game in the finals after averaging 26.7 points per game in the regular season. He seemed to disappear during the fourth quarter.
This was while tweeting "Now or Never!!" and giving inspirational pep talks to his teammates before scoring eight points in the game. What player considered a top-two or even top-five talent has an output drop like that in the finals? This isn't James' first disappearing act either.
James was all but a non-factor and didn't seem to want to get anywhere near the basket. He is a player that lives around the basket normally and only took 20 free-throw attempts during the entire six games of the Finals. He only made one out of four free-throw attempts in the final game.
The pressure got to him. It was his girlfriend. He was concentrating on defense. None of these excuses are good enough. He could have seized the moment in Game 5 after Wade was injured, but he didn't. Maybe he couldn't. That's why he left Cleveland. Wade couldn't save him now.
Tyson Chandler's bicep tattoo reads "Only The Strong Survive," while LeBron James has "Chosen1" inked across his shoulder blades.
Chandler became the defensive anchor that the Mavericks had needed for years and helped them win their first championship in franchise history. He was considered a bust in Chicago and tossed between two more teams before landing on the Mavericks' roster. Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry rose to the moment in these playoffs and brought victory home to Dallas for the first time.
It was all the sweeter considering the Mavericks' loss to the Heat in the 2006 Finals. Nowitzki and Terry were all that was left from that team. It took Nowitzki 13 seasons, all with the Dallas Mavericks, to finally achieve that title. John F. Kennedy had it right when he said, "Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men."
LeBron James took the easy way out when he chose to join the Miami Heat. He wasn't strong enough to win one for Cleveland. James said repeatedly in the press conference after the Heat's loss in Game 6 that he wouldn't hang his head low about it.
I think somewhere in between would work better. He came to Miami with his head in the clouds like he had already won a championship. If he wants to save his legacy, he'll keep his head up and save the celebrating until after he wins a title instead of during Game 2 of the finals. There's a lot more basketball to be played.