Will any of us ever look at LeBron James quite the same way again? After Sunday night’s Game 6 shell-of-himself meltdown against the take-no-prisoners Dallas Mavericks in the series-clincher of the NBA Finals, one has to wonder if he’ll ever be viewed as the can’t miss, virtually unstoppable talent he’s been advertised as for much of his suddenly spotty NBA career.
Trapped somewhere between the lands of raised humility and stilled defiance, James himself tried to make sense of his stunning fate as it yet unraveled.
“The Greater Man upstairs knows when it’s my time,” James waxed on his Twitter page. “Right now isn’t the time.” James’ soul-searching revelations came just moments after he admonished the media and pretty much all of Hoops Nation in a far more dastardly rant.
“All the people that were rooting me on to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life they had before,” said James. “They have the same personal problems they had to today. I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want with me and my family and be happy with that.”
Just like that, in a span of mere minutes and with the pressure mounting all around him, James had morphed into another being. And therein lies the riddle of LeBron James and the question of what seems to plaque and hamper him most. There simply seems too much uncertainty over just who and what King James needs to be.
Now let’s be clear here, James totally ran afoul of all logic and rationale when he waged his verbal attack on NBA fans at large— and perhaps that somewhat explains why Miami forever seems to such a dwindling fan base— but I digress.The point here is LeBron James seems to suffer from an identity crisis that too often leaves him handcuffed and scrambling to defend himself.
When night after night, you’re the best and most riveting talent on the court why ever tinker with the benevolence bestowed upon you by the Sports Gods by taking your foot off the proverbial, competitive pedal?
Yeah, yeah, it sounds enticing, stupendous even, to be compared to a combination of Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson on the regular. But the bottom line is in games, big time ones like the NBA finals especially, teammates rightfully have to be able to depend on getting certain, almost guaranteed contributions from their best players.
In the first quarter, James provided as much, connecting on his first four before missing six of his final 10. And while that, in and of itself, isn’t an indictment of talents, don’t you wonder why James always seems to make the least use of them in the biggest of games and most critical of moments.
“LeBron is not Michael,” said NBA analyst Steve Kerr, who won three titles playing alongside Jordan as a reserve during the second of the Bulls pair of three-peats. He doesn’t have an offensive game that he can rely on: no low-post game, no mid-range jump shot so when the game really gets tough he has a hard time finding easy baskets and getting himself going. That’s what Michael did in his sleep so that’s why there’s no comparison. If he wants to be a champion he has a lot to learn.”
Not to mention looked at in that same way ever again. -Glenn Minnis