The NBA gets talked about on this blog as much as Anthony Weiner’s politics do following ‘WeinerGate.’
There’s more coverage at a nudist beach.
But since the NBA Finals came to a close on Monday, I felt it was time to talk about what everyone else is talking about: LeBron James. He became, easily, the most excoriated professional athlete following his “decision” to take his talents to South Beach, which, among me and my friends, has become code for taking a dump. Gross? Yes. Hilarious? Even more so.
That hour-long special last summer did wonders for the decor in my college house. I was able to purchase a LeBron James Fathead for $17.41 because Cavaliers and Fathead owner Dan Gilbert handled that situation more like a scorned girlfriend and less like a moneyed businessman. Gilbert stayed true to his sneering ways Monday after the Miami Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks 105-95 in Game 6 (4-2 in the series) by posting this on his Twitter page: “… Old Lesson for all:There are NO SHORTCUTS. NONE.” Clearly a direct shot at LBJ. To add insult to injury, for the Heat, the Mavs got to celebrate on Miami’s home court — the same place where this pretentious spectacle took place after James signed with the Heat.
The “NO SHORTCUTS. NONE.” tweet actually made a lot of sense. The hype entering the 2010-2011 NBA season was centered around the Heat, and their ‘Big 3,’ Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and (always third) Chris Bosh. Early struggles almost caused ESPN’s Heat Index, a page made specifically for the new-look Heat, to run a “.500 watch.” But Miami evolved as team, handled Philadelphia and Boston, then proceeded to manhandle Chicago in the playoffs to elevate them to the NBA Finals. The Finals were something that alluded James in all but one of his years in Cleveland. The Cavs got swept away by San Antonio in 2007. Whether it was his supporting cast, or just him, James felt it was necessary to leave his home for South Florida in search of a title that he still didn’t find.
The 2011 version of the NBA Finals were incredibly entertaining and generated huge ratings for ABC, and rightfully so. When it was all said and done, though, Gilbert’s tweet resonated loudly. Yes, LeBron and Wade are friends, and yes, Miami is an awesome city, but at the end of the day, we all know why LeBron high-tailed it to South Beach. He knew it would be easier to win a title there. He knew he would have Wade to back him up when he didn’t perform, which seemed to be every fourth quarter of the Finals and especially Game 4. Wade was LeBron’s insurance policy, he just didn’t make all the payments. If LeBron would have played like LeBron could play, this blog probably wouldn’t even be written right now. But King James shied away from the spotlight when it mattered most. Wade couldn’t handle Dirk Nowitzki and Dallas by himself, again. He especially couldn’t do it with a mediocre bench and Bosh, who looks even weirder when he’s bawling his eyes out.
I think James got lazy. I think he thought that since he had Wade and Bosh, he didn’t have to be the leader he was in Cleveland, which is true to extent. But he couldn’t be dumb enough to think that he didn’t have to do anything. He looked very lackadaisical in Game 6. There was no killer instinct in him — or the entire Heat squad. If you watched that game, you saw it. They all just went through the motions, like a game that would be played in February. But it was mostly LeBron who took all the heat for the loss (see what I did there?). He did admit that he didn’t play to his standards, which is dead on.
The Jordan-LeBron comparisons will continue to be made all throughout James’ career, but Jordan didn’t win a title until he was 28, and LeBron is only 26. Yes, he is an eight-year veteran, but still pretty young, nonetheless. James should look at this as a learning experience and actually take Gilbert’s tweet to heart. It doesn’t matter what the talent level is sometimes, it’s about the effort. LeBron dished out little effort in the Finals. If he wants to win not one, not two, not three, not four … you get the point. If he wants to win multiple titles with his buddies in Miami, he’s going to have to put forth more of an effort than he did this year. The Heat can easily get back to the Finals next year, whether they want to endure another backlash from a dismal Finals performance is up to them.
LeBron’s 0-2 in the Finals, maybe the third time is really a charm. But things could be worse, the King could have tweeted a picture of his royal jewels. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. I follow James on Twitter, if he would’ve done that his next purchase would be one hell of a publicist. My next purchase would be a rope and a stool.