LeBron James got his wish, he’s now a global icon for arrogance and failure

Posted: June 13, 2011 in NBA
Tags: , , , ,

As I expected, the Dallas Mavericks finished off the Miami Heat in game six last night, proving pretty clearly that a legitimate team built around one superstar beats out three superstars with little in the way of a team behind them.  We can argue all day long about the validity of Miami’s attempt to built a star-studded group and ride sheer talent to multiple titles, but for today, right now, it doesn’t look like such a hot idea.  Of course, barring a new CBA that forces the team to dump one of the big three, there is still ample time for Miami to achieve all of their dreams.  It just didn’t happen this year.

Much has been said and written about how Miami was the overwhelming favorites in this NBA Finals, how Wade, James and Company were just too much for anyone, let alone Dallas to withstand in a seven game series.  Personally, I thought this was premature hype to begin with.  Dallas was and is the better team.  After the fourth quarter of game one, the Mavs controlled the series despite what all the press reports were saying.  Dallas was “lucky” to get the come-from-behind wins in games two and four, we were told, they couldn’t possibly hold up much longer.

Well, just a brief look at the first four games shows pretty clearly a series that wasn’t lopsided at all, but played fairly evenly.  Of the 16 quarters played in the first four games, 4 ended in ties and the other 12 were split evenly, with Dallas winning 6 and Miami taking six.  Worse still for Miami, Dallas totally controlled the second half of the 4th qaurters of games 2,3 and 4.  In fact, Miami is fortunate that they managed to hold on in game three.  Dallas came roaring back from 14 down to tie the game, then Jason Terry missed a three to give them the lead and Dirk missed a jumper to tie at the end.  How many times has that happened in this year’s playoffs?  Just the once.

When a team comes from down late to win a game once, it can be seen as a fluke, or a lucky break.  When it happens twice, it’s not quite a fluke anymore.  When it happens three games in a row, you’ve got a trend.  And when it happens all playoffs long against the best the league has to offer, it’s not luck, it’s their style of play.  Dallas is a deep, versatile team.  They wear other teams down over the course of the game.  And unlike Miami, they actually know how to close.  I’m not certain why anyone is surprised that Miami would blow late leads repeatedly in the Finals, they’ve been doing that against good teams all season long.

No, Miami shouldn’t be condemned for “being upset” in this series, they never should have been the favorite to begin with.  Dallas managed to work a split in the first four games (very nearly a 3-1 lead) despite the fact that they had gone cold as a team.  Dirk strapped everyone in a Mavs uniform on his back and did what LeBron only imagines he can do, carry them to victory.  Dallas was not playing anywhere near as well as they had earlier in the playoffs.  Once their shooting stroke returned in game 5, Miami had no chance, evidenced by the fact that the Mavs scored about 108 per game in the last two against the supposedly elite Heat defense.

Dallas couldn’t go into Miami and win, we were told after the Mavs went up 3-2.  This despite the fact that Dallas was 6-1 in its last 7 road games (now 7-1 after last night’s win.)  The closed out Portland in Portland, the won both games in L.A., they won both games in OKC, and they won 2 out of 3 in Miami.  No, Miami didn’t choke or blow this series, they were the victim of over-hype from the get-go.  In retrospect, Dallas did to Miami exactly what they have been doing to teams all season long.  But the Mavs  have a long standing reputation for coming up short, so they weren’t respected for it.  Miami was the big fish in a small pond from the day of the infamous “Decision”.  They were the team that most everyone in the media had decided were the champions by default.

Even the criticism heaped on Miami during the season wasn’t so much a consequence of their actual performance, it was because they looked like what they actually are, a thin team with no bench to speak of and major flaws on the offensive end, particularly in end-game situations.  They’re sin was in not living up to the invincible force nearly everyone thought they were certain to be.

LeBron James wanted to be a global icon, he wanted his legacy to be Michael Jordan only bigger.  The celebration in South Beach the day after winning the free agency sweepstakes sticks out in everyone’s minds today, and it should.  Whoever’s idea that was really needs to be fired.  When LeBron started sticking fingers up to indicate how many titles they would; win, five, six, seven; it harkened back to Jordan doing the same thing.  The difference being that MJ did it during the locker room celebration after actually winning a title.  And the six fingers Jordan held up that day, he eventually backed up with titles.  It’s one thing to be confident when you’ve got the resume to back it up, quite another when you haven’t won anything yet.

The Miami Heat did themselves no favors this season.  Be it Coach Spo ratting out his players for crying in the locker room after a mid-season loss to Chicago, to Dwayne Wade playing the victim card with his “All’s right with the world, the Heat lost” whine.  The hubris continued with a celebration after beating Boston in the second round that made the one the Mvas just engaged in after actually winning the title look tame in comparison.  Beating up on a wounded and worn down team and celebrating like it was the best thing that ever happened in all of civilization isn’t exactly a classy thing to do.  But then neither is mocking a guy who just beat you with a 102 degree fever for being sick.  Where was the focus?

LeBron has gotten his wish after all.  Today, on the eve of the most crushing defeat of his professional career, he is indeed a global icon.  His name has become synonymous with failure.  Whether that is fair to him or not is irrelevant. LeBron wanted all of this attention, courted it like no other player, and now he has it, for better or worse.

After the game, LeBron was asked about all of the people rooting against him.  He responded with a vintage arrogant whine.  “At the end of the day, all the people that were rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today.”

It’s good to see LeBron hasn’t learned a thing.  The problem is, King James, you’ll wake up tomorrow with the same life, too.  All of the failure, the hubris, the shrinking under pressure, the increasing cacophony of voices chipping away at your legacy one paragraph at a time, it’ll all still be there.  And until you learn a thing or two about actually becoming a champion, that will never go away.

 

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