I would have been perfectly content to do a brief recap of Game 1 of the NBA Finals, but there has been reaction to things that happened in Game 1 – as well as discussions occurring in recent days and weeks that have been ramped up from past years – that are going to force me to address issues surrounding LeBron James. I wanted to start this blog initially for a number of reasons with one of the primary ones being that I love sports, I love talking about sports, and I’m a highly opinionated guy. This would allow me to share my opinions.
I’ve made no bones about the fact that I am a big fan of The Dan Patrick Show, and quite often I agree with what Dan is saying. Not always, however (for example, Dan’s strong distaste for soccer). But I do tend to agree with what he is saying. I woke up this morning – and frankly went to bed last night – knowing I would be writing about LeBron and filled with plenty of strong opinions. I wanted to be sure I typed all of this before continuing to watch this morning’s DP Show so that it didn’t seem like I cribbed too many of my thoughts from him or his show.
- LeBron James cramped up and couldn’t play. It’s an injury. As men, we like to look at things that we see as unique to women and belittle them and put them on a lower level so that when it happens to us, we’re weak and pathetic if we can’t survive it. I’ve seen plenty of players get just as debilitated as LeBron was last night with cramps. And yes, I too was sitting on my couch telling him to play through it but as my mother – the sage voice of reason – was telling me, how can I expect him to get out on the court and play through it when he can’t move. LeBron James would not have gotten help to the sidelines if he didn’t need it and he sure as heck wouldn’t have been on the sidelines if he could have been playing. If we’re going to get back to questioning LeBron’s competitive drive, then you can leave the discussion.
- I saw a tweet last night asking, “Why was LeBron the only one to have a problem with this? No one else cramped up.” Again, these are statements that show Twitter’s power to illustrate how dumb people are. Right, right, because the human body is exactly the same for every single person. LeBron was asked to do more on the court than anyone else. More than Parker, more than Wade and more than Duncan. He’s also built unlike anyone else out on the court, let alone unlike most any athlete we’ve seen. Should he have hydrated better? I don’t know. That’s a question for the Jay Sabol, the Heat’s head Athletic Trainer, and his staff.
- The Heat were leading by two points, 86-84, when LeBron left the floor with 7:31 remaining, and the Spurs closed the game on a 26-9 run to win 110-95. LeBron James was the difference of the game. The heat in the building was also the difference of the game, yes, but with LeBron out of the game, everything changed, and that is a testament to just how great of a player he is.
- To build off that last point, I too was sitting and watching the second part of the fourth quarter and saying, “Come on Dwyane and Bosh. C’mon Ray and Rashard and Mario Chalmers. You guys have got to step up.” The Spurs won this basketball game. They turned the ball over 22 times, yes, but Tim Duncan was big (21 pts, 9-10 FG, 3-4 FT, 10 rebs, 3 ast), Tony Parker was big (19 pts, 8-15 FG, 2-2 3-pt, 8 ast) and Manu Ginobili was tremendous off the bench (16 pts, 5-10 FG, 3-6 3-pt, 11 ast, 5 rebs, 3 stl). Heck, even Danny Green turned in a noteworthy performance (13 pts, 4-9 FG, 3-7 3-pt, 3 rebs, 2 stl). San Antonio shot 58.8% from the field and 52% (13-25) from beyond the arc. They won the game. Back to my point calling out the rest of the Heat: this is still a big three but with LeBron off the floor, no one’s looks are going to be nearly as good. The entire offense changes. Could the Heat win a game without LeBron playing? I believe so. But maybe not with such an abrupt change there.
- There is a fervor that is pervading the American sports fan and it is a hatred for LeBron James and it still doesn’t make sense. Yes, I am an apologist, it’s pretty obvious. I’m an apologist for a number of things, it’s in my nature. To know me is to know how often I play devil’s advocate in a given conversation. But when I say, “There is a hatred for LeBron James,” I know that the responses will be centered around how great Kobe and Jordan are and were, or at least how much LeBron pales in comparison. But these are symptoms of the problem. If someday Mr. James has more championships than Michael Jordan, those who do not like LeBron will return to pointing out that, “LeBron had Wade and Bosh and he couldn’t win on his own in Cleveland so he had to team up with two other superstars.” I have all kinds of problems with this.
1. No championship is ever won by one player. Jordan had Pippen, Grant and Paxson the first time around and Pippen, Harper, Kukoc, Rodman and Kerr the second time around. Kobe had Shaq, Dwyane Wade had Shaq, Dirk had Jason Terry and Caron Butler, I could go on and on.
2. You’re really going to fault the Heat for putting together the best roster they could with the money they had?
3. LeBron reportedly tried to get Chris Bosh to come to Cleveland. No one is going to Cleveland! Johnny Manziel may be in Cleveland now…because the Browns drafted him. Kyrie Irving may be in Cleveland now…because they drafted him. No one is going to Cleveland. LeBron had to get out.
4. People like to forget that LeBron – and Wade and Bosh for that matter – took less money to play together. They all could have gotten max deals if they’d stayed where they were, but chose to take less money in order to win a championship.
- I really can’t believe we’re still discussing “The Decision.” That was almost four years ago! Move on, folks! Cleveland fans, not asking you to move on. Having a superstar leave your city in free agency really sucks and can make you bitter. Just ask Yankees fans. Or ask me! I was incredibly bitter when Alex Rodriguez left for Arlington, Texas. Then again, I was somewhere around 8 years old at the time, but that’s probably about the same age as everyone outside of Cleveland who can’t get over that media blunder. If “The Decision” is the worst thing LeBron ever does, he’s lived a pretty great life. Remember, Kobe raped a woman.
- While I’m on the topic of transgressions/non-on court performances, y’all want to criticize LeBron for being soft or not being committed to winning and committed to the game? Michael took two years off! He went and tried another sport and could barely make it in minor league baseball! Don’t put Jordan over LeBron in the “who is more committed” argument. It’s ridiculous.
- Yet another reason why LeBron should never be compared to Michael — or anyone else for that matter: he’s the first player of his kind. He’s somewhere around 6’8″ 250 lbs depending on who you ask, yet he can pass like a point guard, hit threes, defend all five positions, score from anywhere on the court including down low. Jordan was a scorer, and score he did. No, I’m not taking anything away from Jordan’s defensive game because that grew over time. They’re two different players.
This has gone on too long. I would heartily accept any and all critiques/disagreements/differing opinions so that I can destroy you.
Wow that sounded harsh. Listen, y’all have a great weekend. All I’m asking is let’s watch the rest of the series and discuss how the players and teams performed and not draw wild and outrageous conclusions about certain players being soft or weak or not as good as Michael Jordan
I’ll leave you with some tweets that I either found interesting or agreed with.