Don't get me wrong here. I'm not rooting for a lockout. If the NBA cancelled this season, it could turn away a lot of people who are already on the fence about a league with half the heart and a third of the excitement of college basketball.
However, if there indeed is a lockout this year, many players could be awarded some much needed introspection time to reflect on past failures.
LeBron James is one such player who could benefit from a year off.
Plain and simple, LeBron did not live up to the hype in this year's NBA Finals. The worst part about this collapse/failure/choking act, whatever you want to call it, is that he did play at a much higher level in the earlier rounds of the playoffs.
Here are LeBron's totals by round:
First round: 24.2 points per game
Second round: 28 points per game
Third round: 25.8 points per game
Finals: 17.8 points per game!
Wow, that's a serious slide. LeBron recorded the lowest playoff points per game total in his career solely because of his play in the Finals; exactly when the Heat needed him the most.
What happened? We know he has the ability to rip apart defenses and have his way with them, so where was that LeBron? It's impossible to know, but it's in the past and we as fans along with LeBron must look to the future and what happens next.
So here we are in July and LeBron has had plenty of time to intake the hate of millions of people, watch game film and try to understand what happened, and simply relax after a postseason collapse that at times seemed to weigh solely on his broad shoulders.
We're past that. The NFL and NBA are in lockouts, the MLB is in full swing and many have moved on to other topics in the sports world. In a perfect world, LeBron currently has just about three months to get his head in gear and try to exorcise his demons from this past season.
The fact is that we don't live in a perfect world of pure compromise between NBA owners and players so we, the fans, are "being held hostage" from the sport we love. Those three months until the inaugural tip-off of the 2011-12 season might turn into 15 months. It happened to hockey, why not to basketball?
There is one positive from the potential cancellation of this year's NBA season. The players who don't jump at the first opportunity to play overseas will have more than enough time to reflect on the things that could have been.
Everyone in the world, haters and fans alike, know that LeBron James is an unbelievable basketball talent. Comparisons to Michael Jordan and "best player in the league" aside, he has the talent to lead a team to multiple NBA championships. But the one thing LeBron hasn't yet mastered is allowing himself to believe that.
Given the proper amount of time to realize this truth and begin to utilize his full potential will bring out the LeBron we hope is inside. The LeBron that is a leader, a world-class player and a champion.
Once James overcomes whatever barriers he has erected in front of himself he will be unstoppable. Not only because of his talents on the court, but because of his ability to be the player who averages 17.8 in a playoff series in which his team wins due to his leadership and sportsmanship as opposed to his scoring prowess.
I'd give him all the time in the world to realize this, because the true LeBron is there, and once he is unleashed, who knows what levels he can reach. The rest of the league better take this lockout as time to prepare, because LeBron and the Heat are going to be ready to pounce once it's over.
You may still hate on LeBron and think he is a complete choke artist when his team needs him, but there is one basketball personality we all respect who once said some very true words:
"If you're not making mistakes, then you're not doing anything." John Wooden knew the value of making mistakes in order to learn from them. LeBron can too.
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