By John Schmeelk
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Is anyone really surprised that LeBron James put that type of game together against the Celtics last night? He is only the game’s best player. He has also done it before, after all, for those people who have a decent memory. In a 2007 Game 5 in Detroit, LeBron was in beast mode too, going for 48 in a 109-107 win. Considering that he scored the team’s final 25 points in a close double-overtime contest, I can easily argue that that was the more impressive performance. But no one remembers that now, the same way no one will care about last night if he still doesn’t have a title in three years.
That’s stupid. In fact, I promise you that if LeBron James plays a bad fourth quarter in Game 7 on Saturday, there will be an army of people who will say that LeBron can’t get it done in tight games. Since his domination came without the pressure of a close game, for some reason it won’t count. You see, it’s all about getting it done when it matters in a Game 7 in the fourth quarter. Mark my words: If the Heat lose in a close game and LeBron doesn’t play big down the stretch, that’s what you will hear. The same thing will happen if LeBron gets outplayed in the finals by a superior Thunder team. It won’t be fair, but that won’t matter either.
That right there summarizes why the narrative on LeBron James can be so ridiculous. Unless he scores 15 straight at the end of a Game 7 in the finals on the road, no one will ever leave him alone. Has he had his failures? Sure, but so has everyone — including the average fan’s favorite clutch performer, Kobe Bryant.
I realize that this is a strange time to write this, coming off a game that everyone is universally praising LeBron James for. But considering that he has had a playoff game more impressive than this one before, it bothers me that everyone can simply change their mind about a guy after one game. Did anyone really think he was incapable of doing that? It doesn’t make any sense.
Will people flip right back if he misses a couple of long jump shots at the end of Game 7 and the Heat lose? Is that really how fickle the NBA fan is? I realize the vitriol out there for LeBron, and I get it. He deserves every bit of it for how he handled his departure from Cleveland. But everyone needs to accept what a great player he is. Unlike a guy like Kobe Bryant, he actually tries to get his teammates involved and play the right way. Why is there something wrong with the fact that he doesn’t take the last shot if someone has a better look, or if Dwyane Wade is having a better game or has a better matchup?
I just don’t get it, and I guess I never will. I’ll still sit here and root against the Heat, even if it means rooting for the Celtics. I’ll enjoy every moment of watching Miami walk off the court as losers to end their season, whether it’s against the Celtics or the Thunder. But at the same time I will marvel at and enjoy the greatness that is LeBron James. I hope everyone else can too.
If anyone out there tells you that they know what’s going to happen in Game 7, they are simply kidding themselves. In my mind, it’s a coin-flip game that can go either way. The Celtics played far from their best in Game 6, and we’ll see if they have the energy to summon one more great game in Miami. The hostile environment won’t affect a veteran team like the Celtics, but they need to stay close or have a lead early to take the front-running Miami crowd out of the game. Miami role players will feed on a raucous crowd.
I realize that it sounds simple, but this is more than likely going to come down to which players play better. Who hits more shots? Who turns it over less? Who rebounds better? From game to game, those answers have been different. There’s one thing that I do know, however.
It will be a classic contest, and I cant wait to watch it.
What kind of performance will LeBron deliver in Game 7? Sound off with your thoughts and comments in the section below…