Token LeBron Post

Editors Note: I was just as infuriated by The Decision and the rally that took place in Miami soon after as all of you were. You are more than welcome to ask my friends and they will tell you during that summer and for a good while after it, seeing Miami lose gave me a great deal of pleasure. But I found it in me to move on. I am now indifferent to Miami’s exploits, as I was before they signed LeBron and Chris Bosh. If I have any motivation at all to watch them, it is because I am a fan of the game of basketball, and enjoy watching good games, great defense, and exciting styles of play. What The Decision and its aftermath says about LeBron, Wade, Bosh, and us as fans, should be left for another post entirely.

Thinking about the most polarizing figures in sports and the usual names all come to mind: Michael Vick, Tiger Woods, the entire New York Yankees organization. They get an exceptional amount of coverage in the national press, people talk about them on a daily basis, people argue about them on a daily basis, and for the last year, they have all paled in comparison to the amount of attention, good and bad, LeBron James has received. If you want a fullproof plan to get an interesting conversation going, go up to a random group of people and just say “so how ’bout LeBron?” Thats all you need to do. Half the group will want to punch you in the face, the other half will thank you for giving them an opportunity to salivate over the most tantalizing talent to have ever graced the hardwood.

I was asked by my mom the other day who I was rooting for in the finals and I responded that I was completely indifferent, as I usually am with these things. She got mad at me because I wasn’t rooting against Miami. One year ago, she wouldn’t have been able to tell you if Miami even had an NBA franchise or not. The LeBron effect knows no bounds.

Another prime example: after a fantastic game 3 last night, one in which both sides fought extremely hard, Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki exerted superhuman efforts, one which ended in a Miami victory (past statistics showing that the Heat should now be overwhelming favorites to win a championship), and the pervading storyline is what LeBron James didn’t do in the 4th quarter.

The sole focus of the aftermath of that game was how James only scored 2 4th quarter points and how he was seen being barked at by Wade for passing the ball to Mario Chalmers instead of driving to the bucket on a particular play. Let me repeat: Miami WON THE GAME led by a spectacular Wade, and this is what we are talking about? People need to stop worrying about who is going to be the alpha dog on this team or who will be taking the final shot of the game. As far as I’m concerned, Miami possesses 2.5 alpha dogs (including Chris Bosh’s alien body of course). They have the luxury of taking what the defense gives them, they get to use a great player as a decoy to get their other great player a good look. Or as we saw last night, they have the luxury of being able to go to a capable Chris Bosh when both James and Wade are being heavily guarded (LeBron isn’t getting the credit he deserves for the pass that got Bosh the game winning shot).

If Miami can win a championship, none of this stuff should matter. The 2007-2008 Kansas Jayhawks basketball team found itself in a similar predicament when many noticed they didn’t have a prototypical go-to guy like a Tyler Hansbrough, Kevin Love, or Derrick Rose. You know what the team itself thought? That they had 7 go-to guys (which would include Sasha Kaun…probably a mistake), and whoever had the open shot would take it and likely make it. Not a bad recipe based on how their season ended.

So we need to stop worrying over who is going to be the man on this team. Miami is above that. Assuming Miami wins (which is stupid to do this early, but the stats also don’t lie: since the 2-3-2 format has been in play in the NBA Finals, there have been 11 1-1 series ties after the first two games. The team that won game 3 went on to win the series 100% of the time), then they will have put to rest this whole argument.

Chicago and Dallas were both very good teams this season, and more than that, they have a bonafide guy they can go to when the moment matters. That’s great and its more than can be said for the majority of the teams in this league. But (again ASSUMING Miami wins) that doesn’t help when the team you’re playing has 2 guys like that. It’s time to stop using small sample sizes (3 games) to annoint someone the leader of a team and another player as someone who shrinks from the big moment. And I won’t even get into how unfair it is towards James (who is actually shooting 51% from the field and 44% from behind the arc in the finals) for most journalists to use these 3 games to label him as Wade’s sidekick. We could have done the exact same thing to Wade in the conference finals (when LeBron thoroughly dominated Chicago, was the definition of clutch, and just torched this year’s near unanimous league MVP…it didn’t look fair), and yet no one did.

The Decision, and this were clearly very poor decisions. And I think if LeBron could do them over again, or not at all, he probably would. But I also think we are making illogical decisions by using a 3 game sample size to crown Wade as THE guy on his team, when the argument is really just flat out not necessary.

It’s time to stop fretting over who should be taking the last shot or labeled as the leader (Erik Spoelstra, LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade will figure that out based on the matchups on the court). Its time to stop worrying about who scored more 4th quarter points or who was more clutch (THEY WON THE GAME…WINNING IS WHAT BROUGHT JAMES TO MIAMI IN THE FIRST PLACE). And it is time to start being very afraid of what this team may accomplish in the next 5 or so years.

One-third of you will love this post. One-third will want to rip my face off. And the last third probably didn’t make it far enough to read this sentence. So how ’bout LeBron?

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