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Lebron James: Confessions of a Non-Hater

It has been more than three weeks since the Mavericks defeated the Heat in the NBA Finals, and the last of the confetti from the championship parade has (presumably) been swept off the streets of downtown Dallas.  But many, many fans in Dallas and elsewhere (especially in Cleveland) are, if no longer vocally, at least internally still reveling in the demise of the Heat, and in particular that of LeBron James.  He provoked the ire of a sporting nation one year ago this coming Friday with “The Decision”, and seemingly everyone who follows the NBA is delighting in his comeuppance.

But not me.
I’m not a “LeBron fan” per se; he doesn’t play for my team, so I don’t root for him as a matter of course. But I don’t root against him either, and I do enjoy watching him play. I like how on the court, he seems to focus more on the team than most other players of his caliber. I like how, even when he goes off for mega-points, he makes sure to include a healthy number of rebounds and assists, such as the 52-9-11 that he put up against the Knicks in February 2009, or the 51-11-8 he put up against Orlando this past February.  I especially like how he’s dedicated himself to defense over the past few years, turning himself from a defensive liability earlier in his career to one of the best defenders in the game.

All of these point to someone whose approach to playing the game is, at its core, unselfish (at times overly so), and at some level I have to think that part of the public’s overwhelmingly negative reaction to “The Decision” stemmed from the fact that it seemed so contrary to the way he plays. But that didn’t turn me into a hater, and nothing that transpired since has changed that.

Why have I not joined the LeBron Haters club? Here are the main reasons:

1.         I’m not from Cleveland

OK, let’s get the easiest and most obvious reason out of the way first. Because I’m not from the Cleveland area, I wasn’t nearly as emotionally invested in his free-agency decision. I can’t imagine the extent to which Cavs fans were on pins and needles leading up to “The Decision”, nor can I imagine how utterly devastating, humiliating and infuriating it must have been for Cavs fans to find out, not to mention the way that they found out, that he would be returning to Cleveland only in a visitors’ jersey. I understand that, as an outsider, there are limits to my ability to fully comprehend what “The Decision” did to Cavs fans. But there are some factors, as set forth below, that I think even Cavs fans, not to mention other LeBron haters, should consider in weighing their hate.

2.         He has significant character flaws, but he’s not evil.

This will no doubt come as news to LeBron haters, especially to Cleveland fans, most (if not all) of whom rate LeBron at roughly the level of Satan, or even worse at that of Art Modell. I think it’s important to break down exactly what “The Decision” was: an inconsiderate, thoughtless act of youthful arrogance by someone who was advised by people who were being paid to know better. (On a side note: the uncomfortable truth about “The Decision” was that LeBron’s advisors may have actually been right in terms of it helping to build his brand.  After all, this past season of LeBron hate was also the season in which his jersey became the league’s highest-selling jersey for the first time since his rookie season.  I doubt anyone bought his jersey this past season for purposes of burning.  All in all, though, I would still have to rate “The Decision” as a bad idea)

Three of the most widely-used adjectives to describe “The Decision” (one of which I just used myself) are: thoughtless, ill-advised and misguided. As far as can be determined, LeBron simply didn’t give any thought to how “The Decision” would be received in Cleveland and elsewhere; all he thought about were the ratings that would be generated, the platform that his personal brand would get and the money that the Boys and Girls’ Clubs would receive. On this count, he received spectacularly bad advice and errant guidance from his inner circle; many (Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe most recently) have commented that LeBron needs to rid himself of them, and I tend to agree.

But in my mind, all of this is still quite far away from being able to say that LeBron was or is evil. The reason is that there is no evidence to suggest that he had any overt intent, at any point, to “stick it” to Cleveland or to any other fan base. You’re probably saying to yourself, “It doesn’t matter, he still should have known how it would come across”, but the available evidence indicates that he really didn’t. Does that mean that he’s exceedingly tone-deaf and in his own world? Yes, it does. But to me, these are not attributes that warrant hate, let alone the level of hate that has accompanied LeBron for the past year. Disappointment? Sure. But hate? Not for me.

3.         He didn’t quit on the Cavs last year.

Game 4 of this year’s Finals (arguably the single worst game of LeBron’s career) caused at least some fans to re-assess their reaction to Game 5 of last year’s Cavs-Celtics series, when LeBron was so ineffective and passive that many accused him of quitting on the Cavs. There is no way that LeBron quit in Game 4 this year, not with the Heat just two wins away from the title that would have validated his move to Miami. Likewise, he didn’t quit in Game 5 last year. In both instances, he got frustrated by the opposing defense against him and his inability to crack it, and let the frustration take him out of his game. In both games he showed a lack of mental toughness which cost him and his team. But that’s not the same as quitting. If he had really quit on the Cavs last year, then why bother to show up at all for Game 6? Why turn in anything close to the 27-19-10 line that he turned in for that game? Yes, he shot poorly from the floor (7-21) and committed 9 turnovers, but surely the Celtics (who came within 5 points of winning last year’s title) had something to do with that. It was definitely not the effort of a player who had quit.

The other facet of this argument is that LeBron quit on the Cavs because he had already planned his departure to Miami to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Until recently, I also thought that the so-called “Scheme Team” had planned their union in advance. Then I remembered that on the morning of “The Decision”, Chris Broussard had reported on ESPN.com that LeBron had decided on Miami after Bosh had rebuffed LeBron’s efforts to get him to agree to a sign-and-trade to Cleveland. There’s also this column from Mark Heisler of the Los Angeles Times. These guys have no reason to lie for LeBron or to make up stories from thin air; their reports strike me as more credible than the mountain of rumor and innuendo, without any hard evidence to this point, of an advance agreement among the Big 3.

4.         Cavs ownership and management from 2003-2010, especially Dan Gilbert and Danny Ferry.

The morning of “The Decision”, I e-mailed two of my closest friends and opined to them that as a basketball matter, LeBron should not return to Cleveland. The reason was that Cavs ownership and management had 7 seasons in which to build a championship-caliber supporting cast around LeBron, and failed badly. They didn’t get a single impact player in the draft. (Varejao is a valuable role player, but not someone who will ever be mistaken as a consistent scoring option.) Their search for a legit #2 got them Larry Hughes, Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison, decent players all, but not of the required caliber for a championship team. They didn’t flip Wally Szczerbiak‘s large expiring contract for another piece at the ’09 trade deadline, when it was (or should have been) obvious that the ’08-’09 Cavs were overachieving like crazy (because of one player in particular) and were bound to be exposed come playoff time without further reinforcements. They dealt for Jamison at the ’10 deadline instead of including J.J. Hickson to get a younger, more explosive scoring option in Amare Stoudemire, as if to excuse themselves from going all-out to try to re-sign LeBron because they were afraid it wouldn’t pan out anyway. (rumor has it, the Cavs apparently resisted including Hickson in a deal for Stoudemire because they thought the world of Hickson’s potential.  In that case, they must think the earth, the moon and the stars of Omri Casspi, judging from last week’s trade).

LeBron no doubt noticed all of this, and it had to have left him seriously doubting the competence, or worse, the commitment, of Cavs ownership and management. Looking at it objectively, it would be hard to blame LeBron for having such doubts, esp. when the alternative was Pat Riley in Miami. For all the times that Dan Gilbert insisted that the Cavs had done everything they could to re-sign LeBron, the truth is either (i) No, they didn’t; or (ii) if they really did, then they were really, really incompetent.  Gilbert and Danny Ferry should be sending LeBron red roses, chocolates and champagne every week for making them look like innocent victims, when in reality they deserve to go down in history as The Men Who Lost LeBron.

5.         His move to Miami was motivated by the desire for the best possible chance to win.

This is absolutely indisputable, yet LeBron is derided for it (more so, among many people, than even “The Decision” itself), because joining Miami didn’t fit with our vision of what LeBron should be. We wanted him to be the undisputed “alpha dog” of his team and to validate comparisons to Jordan and other all-time greats by leading “his team” to titles. Many of us also wanted, at some level, for “his team” to remain the Cavs because it would have made for the ultimate pro sports feel-good story of a local guy leading his hometown team to the pinnacle of success and raising up a downtrodden city and region in the process.

It’s a great script that we envisioned, but it’s his life and career, and shouldn’t he have the say-so over how it goes? Even when he was carrying the load on a nightly basis in Cleveland, many observers noted that he enjoyed being a passer and distributor as much as, or perhaps even more than, being a scorer. That’s why I thought Miami made sense for him; the level of talent on that team was well-suited for the type of game that he wanted to play. People have called him a “sidekick” as an insult and have unflatteringly compared him to Scottie Pippen, but they’re not insults to him; rather, they’re indicative of the role he’s most comfortable playing. Maybe it means he’s not the type of player we wanted him to be, but that’s not a crime against humanity.

At the same time, I completely disagree with those who say that LeBron took the easy way out by joining Miami. He went there because he felt that the Heat offered the best chance to win, but I don’t think he ever expected it to be easy. He probably surveyed the concentration of talent on teams such as the Lakers and Celtics, plus the Magic, Thunder, Spurs and, yes, the Mavericks, and thought to himself that beating those teams would still be hard with Miami, but would be just about impossible anywhere else.

All that being said, it appears that LeBron did underestimate the extent to which he would need to raise his own game even as a member of the Heat, and that brings me to the last and most important point …

6.         He’s being humbled, and he’ll be better for it.

LeBron picked a very, very bad time to have arguably the 3 least impactful games of his career, and has turned into a national punchline because of it. The loss to Dallas further exposed weaknesses in his game and, worse, in his head. He could certainly stand to further develop his post game and mid-range game, become more consistent with his outside shooting and improve his decision-making with and without the ball. More importantly, he needs to develop mental toughness in order to have the confidence to use his full arsenal in pressure situations, to not get frustrated by opponents’ schemes against him and to not let the moment get to him. In his post-mortem with the media the Tuesday after the Finals, LeBron admitted to putting an inordinate amount of pressure on himself, implying that he let the stakes throw him off his game. It also seemed to me that he lost confidence in his Plan A (never mind any Plan B) on offense, which reduced him a passive shell of himself.

This off-season (however long it may be owing to the lockout), I expect LeBron to make major strides in all of these areas. Why? Two reasons:

a.         For the first time in his career, he’s coming off a playoff defeat for which he must take the undisputed blame. Even in last year’s Cavs-Celtics series, one could point to subpar performances from Williams (who struggled with his shooting for the second straight post-season) and Jamison (who got murdered by Kevin Garnett) as a major reason why the Cavs lost. Not this time with the Heat; the “supporting cast” played well enough that even just an average series from LeBron would have catapulted the Heat to victory. By choosing Miami last summer, LeBron seemed to be saying “I’m good enough, and now my supporting cast is too.” The second part of that is true, but the first part isn’t. LeBron needs to get better, and he finally started to acknowledge that in the post-mortem the Tuesday after the Finals. I expect that the sting of this particular defeat will get him to confront his weaknesses head-on. As if that weren’t enough …

b.         Also for the first time in his career, his name is being tossed around as potential trade bait. The proposed LeBron-for-Dwight Howard swap, which started as an off-the-cuff suggestion from Jeff Van Gundy in the closing seconds of Game 6, has taken on a life of its own, exploding onto the basketball blogosphere and onto more mainstream media such as The New York Times. Whether anyone in the Miami or Orlando front offices is seriously pursuing this remains to be seen, but the fact that it is being discussed at all, as a swap that actually makes basketball sense for both teams no less, has to be an affront to LeBron’s pride, enough of an affront (I think) to make him want to show the Heat that dealing him would be a mistake.

LeBron is at the unquestioned low point of his career, but in defeat lies opportunity. I do think that when all is said and done, LeBron will benefit greatly from this Finals defeat; in fact, I predict that someday, he will look back and realize that he needed this experience in order to get to the top, just like Dirk Nowitzki needed the sting of prior playoff flops in order to get his team to the summit.  I am far from the first to make the parallel here between LeBron and Dirk, but it is an instructive comparison nonetheless.  When Dallas won this year’s title, I couldn’t help but think back to a Bill Simmons column which posted on ESPN.com on May 4, 2007. The night before, Dirk had played the single-worst game of his career, and had reached the undisputed low point of his career, as Golden State finished off its historic first-round upset of Dallas with a 111-86 romp in Game 6.  Here’s how Simmons started his assessment of that game, series and season for Dallas and especially for Dirk:

Dirk Nowitzki was outscored by Maurice Ager. Dirk Nowitzki didn’t attempt a shot from closer than 13 feet. Dirk Nowitzki got dunked on by Matt Barnes. Dirk Nowitzki finished with more turnovers than field goals. Dirk Nowitzki‘s 67-win team got bounced in a deciding game by 25 points … by a No. 8 seed.”

But then, after going through all the things that went wrong for Dirk and Dallas in that series, he closed with the following:

“Still, I’m not willing to write off Dirk Nowitzki as a Pantheon player. He’s only 28. He’s shown flashes of brilliance in the past. … Maybe he needs to spend the next few months answering “What happened to you?” questions to be properly toughened up down the road, like how years of public doubt toughened Peyton Manning in the end.[10] …”

Reading that now shows just how far Dirk has come, and how the journey made Dirk who he is now.  But doesn’t it feel like that last sentence in particular could just as easily be applied to LeBron?  It does to me.  He is going through the fire now, but will emerge stronger and tougher for it.

Related posts:

  1. Why Lebron James Can’t Win
  2. Should Lebron James Be Considered A Legend?
  3. The Psychology of Lebron James
  4. LeBron James vs. Dwyane Wade – Who Should Be The Miami Heat’s Closer?
  5. Lebron James and Dwyane Wade: Performance In Elimination Games

Discussion

21 Responses to “Lebron James: Confessions of a Non-Hater”

  1. Nice article you have and well delivered.
    well sometimes i agree that if lebron did a good play in the finals heat can win the finals.

    Posted by Christian Rey | July 14, 2011, 1:29 am
  2. Just for the record, I don’t hate lebron, but I certainly root against him, so I guess most would say I’m a hater. It’s just that the media and lebron himself pumped him to be the greatest thing ever, and he’s certainly shown he’s nowhere near that.

    He’s a special player, but you couldn’t be more wrong about #3. Watch those games again, against c’s last year and against the mavs this year. He’s just moping around, standing in the corner for a lot of the game, not engaged much in the game at all. Sure, he’s not mentally tough, but what he did was absolutely inexcusable, and it was basically quitting. In game 6 against the c’s last year, sure he had a stat line, but you could tell he wasn’t that effective and still figuring out stuff out. Lebron fools us with us stat lines more than any other player, which was why you need a lot of context when looking at stats. That was a not a good game for any superstar, and there’s more superstars than just him in the league.

    As for #5, sure, it seemed like the best chance to win a title, but he couldn’t have been more wrong. Just look at the 2011 mavs, as eerily similar team to the 09 and 10 cavs, and frankly, not as good. Remember, those 09 and 10 cavs teams led the league in wins each year, something the 11 mavs did not, and the mavs were without their 2nd best player in the playoffs, butler. Lebron bailed out early on the cavs in the c’s series, knewing he’d be already leaving. Sad departure. And he didn’t really grow up anymore in miami this past season either. We’ll see how the new CBA affects the nba, 2011 might’ve been the best chance for the heat, especially in a severely watered down year when most of the contenders had serious problems without the year.

    Posted by boyer | July 14, 2011, 6:56 am
  3. reading blogs like this… just makes me want to see him lose some more.

    ugh.. all this post is gonna do is reignite old flame wars.

    Posted by Chris | July 14, 2011, 9:45 am
  4. Yes Boyer, you are clearly a hater. You rehash all the nonsense quite well.

    Posted by ks | July 14, 2011, 1:24 pm
  5. Boyer, I’m not excusing LeBron’s play in Game 5 of last year’s Cavs-Celtics series, or in Game 4 of this year’s Finals; those were the two worst performances of his entire career. But quitting is the most damning accusation one can make about an athlete, and I think it’s an accusation that many have made too easily here. Looking at it objectively (which, granted, many can’t or won’t when it comes to LeBron), I just don’t think the evidence is there to support this claim.

    By the way, Cavs fans are entitled to feel many things about LeBron, but in my view, they are not entitled to accuse him of being a quitter. Why not? Because if LeBron had re-signed with Cleveland last summer, Cavs fans would have welcomed him back with open arms, forgiven his shortcomings and defended him to the death against any accusations of quitting. You know it’s true, Cavs fans.

    Lastly, as far as the ’08-’09 and ’09-’10 Cavs teams being better than this year’s Mavericks-uh, that’s a joke, right? Comparing each team’s supporting cast makes this one no contest. Varejao’s a good role player, but is he better than Chandler was this past season? It’s debatable at best. I would take Jason Terry over anyone on the Cavs supporting cast those two seasons. I would take Jason Kidd over Delonte West. No one on those Cavs teams other than LeBron was as much of an offensive threat as J.J. Barea, for crying out loud. And this isn’t even factoring in a healthy Caron Butler. The Mavs, from top to bottom, had more talent than the Heat, and perhaps more than anyone else in the league, this year, and could have finished with the best record in the league if not for the injuries to Dirk and Butler. They are a deserving and worthy champion, all the focus on Miami notwithstanding.

    Posted by E-Dog | July 14, 2011, 4:20 pm
  6. E — let me chime in here. I have to slightly disagree with you here. I think you’re engaging in wordplay by saying Lebron didn’t “quit”. I don’t think people are implying he didn’t give any effort (clearly he did). I think what people are saying is that if you look at his body language on the court during those games, his demeanor to his teammates, his involvement in the game — he clearly made a conscious decision to take himself out of the game. Did you see Lebron yell/cajole/do anything with his teammates during that game? That was as passive as you’ll see a player of his caliber. Or how about letting the last minute go by in that game while still within reach without fouling? Seriously? Do you think MJ/Kobe would have done that? That may not be quitting exactly, but it’s a serious flaw for the self-anointed Chosen One.

    But let’s get to why people “hate” on Lebron. In my view, it’s really because that guy turned out to be a fraud, thus disappointing the legions of fans who had invested in him. For all his carefully crafted image as a team guy/someone who wasn’t about me first, everyone Lebron has done since The Decision has seemed to be almost diametrically opposed to this. Not that he cares, since at the end of the day, I have my own personal problems to deal with anyway.

    Posted by Brown Mamba | July 15, 2011, 9:40 am
    • Just a straight answer to your question Mamba.

      Would MJ have done that? I can’t remember a time when he did.

      Would Kobe have done that? He obviously has quit by your definition, most egregiously in game 7 of the 2006 first round against Phoenix. One shot in the second half? Disgraceful when you’re your team’s only scoring option and when you averaged over 35 PPG in the regular season. Kobe’s had a number of awful performances in elimination games as is well documented. To act as if he’s never quit on his team in a major game is completely out of sync with reality.

      Posted by Lochpster | July 19, 2011, 11:13 am
    • It’s a little funny to compare him to Kobe when this post season the Lakers bombed out and Kobe missed all kinds of shots, even and especially clutch shots. His stats in post season (and regular season) are below LeBron’s.

      Fraud? Did you not watch the amazing play in Boston or Chicago games? Even in the Finals, does a fraud get a triple double when he’s struggling, and play more minutes than anyone else? Did you not see how disappointed he was?

      LeBron works damn hard, AND he gets results with few exceptions. Maybe you don’t like him, but he’s no fraud.

      Posted by B GIRL | July 19, 2011, 5:41 pm
  7. brown stain mamba

    you mean the same kobe who routinely gets blown out in close out games, the same kobe who failed or was too lazy to rotate to barea or jason terry and allowed barea lanes to the basket in game 3, to lead to a mav comeback (the mavs outscored the lakers by 12 in the 4th quarter and won by 6) and in game 4 terry hit what like 9 threes and it led to a blowout, the same kobe who was swept by a team he was expected to beat, the same kobe who scored 17 points twice in game 3 and 4 when his team down 0-2 ,oh yeah cant imagine kobe not stepping up.

    Posted by samtotheg | July 15, 2011, 1:09 pm
    • Two Finals MVPS.

      Posted by Gil Meriken | July 15, 2011, 4:20 pm
      • both times in the finals he was outplayed by pau gasol, you use final MVP’s, Ill use he was a sidekick for every championship won, EVERY ONE from shaq to gasol, He has been sidekicking it the whole time, and the pistons debacle was soley his fault, as was the 08 boston massacre, also the suns came back from being dow 3 to 1 with him leading the lakers, and this year he was favored to beat the mavs and was SWEPT ,explain Gil kobe slurper merkin

        Posted by samtotheg | July 16, 2011, 1:31 am
  8. and boyer you talk about fool us, the person who plays games is kobe, he goes to the media when he supposedly is gonna guard the other teams best player, he played us non injured ankle for the world, he went out to shoot after the heat game, when he blew it for them, oh yeah he is the king , of fooling you with his stat lines, like he would get 30 points on 30 shots under a decent percentage OFTEN , he is the guy whos stats you need to analyze more carefully.

    Posted by samtotheg | July 15, 2011, 1:23 pm
  9. Brown Mamba, I think that the difference between what happened to LeBron in Game 5 last year (and in Game 4 this year) and real quitting comes down to what was in his head. In both instances, it seemed to me that he simply froze up because he was frustrated by the way the opponent was playing him and confused about what to do about it. You could say that he choked in both instances, and in my view, you’d be right. But quitting is a willful act of surrender, a conscious choice to give up. I just don’t think LeBron did that; rather, he got overwhelmed by the situation against him and went mentally blank.

    As for him acting in a me-first way: yes, that could certainly be said about the TV special, but not about the decision to sign with Miami itself. If he were really in me-first mode when it came to where he wanted to play, he would have gone to any other team pursuing him because he would have been the undisputed alpha dog on all of them. The one and only team that could not offer him that was Miami because of Wade. This tells me that he picked Miami because he wanted the best chance to win, which is ultimately a team achievement. It seems to me that many fans deride LeBron for, in effect, not being me-first enough in picking a team, which is ironic and suggests that at least some of the reasons so many fans hate LeBron just don’t make sense.

    Posted by E-Dog | July 15, 2011, 4:08 pm
  10. too bad for lebron. if he only plays good when they are competing with miami they have a possibility to win the finals. but maybe he was just disappointed that he don’t have any chance to be the MVP.

    Posted by Christian D Rey | July 15, 2011, 11:23 pm
  11. The Kobe name dropping when it comes to discussions of other players astounds me; to say nothing of the polarizing effect the Bryant has.

    FTR: Bryant is probably the 13th or 14th best player in the history of the game behind Jordan, Russell, Kareem, Bird, Chamberlain, Magic, Duncan, West, Robertson, Hakeem, Moses Malone, and Shaq. You could argue whether Havliechek is ahead of Kobe or not.

    Bryant has never been a caddy for any title team, but often his relative greatness gets a touch overstated. Bryant is, without question, the benefactor and victim of the ESPN/Stern hype machine to sell the league using a single player.

    It would be hard to consider Bryant with 1 MVP award better than any in that group I listed. Kobe has rolled over in playoff series (including and especially in the 2004 Finals!) and his decision making combined with low (for a star) FG% and high TO rate put him behind the others.

    I feel the article has James pegged right. I have always seen a more Magic style of player in James than “the next Jordan”, just as I have always felt that Kobe was much closer to Dr. J than to MJ.

    This season was a transition for James, not a defining one. If we use (if you can) an objective approach there can be no other conclusion that the Heat are poised to make a run at multiple titles. The talented group of James Wade and Bosh are young, healthy and hungry.

    There seems to be a large misunderstanding that good players that can contribute to that team will begin to gravitate there in order to get the Ring.

    This will include veterans that can no longer play 36 minutes a night or great role players that have a singular weapon (great shooter, defensive specialist, floor leader, etc). the Heat will start to get theses players into the stable and cast away the “band-aids” they had to employ this year.

    Once the Heat decide to use James in the same manner that the Lakers used Magic, the Heat will find that comfort zone.

    And yes, LeBron will ultimately use this year as one to build upon, rather than to be torn down by it.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | July 17, 2011, 9:01 am
  12. Good article.
    I was a LeBron fan before he went to Miami, my like of him grew each year, but I really mostly just watched Raptor games (my home team).
    However, as I happened to be in Miami at the time of the Decision, I got pulled in and watched just about every Heat game this past season.

    LeBron is truly he best player to watch, he is far more team-oriented then a lit if people realize, yet he was second highest scorer of the regular season. He is solid. He sees so much and I became a total fan.

    And the more the media tried to pick him I was all the more impressed at how great he continued to play. That shows a lot if dedication, ability and inner strength. And so what if he knows it? It never interferes in his team play from what I could see.

    He is the reason they got to the finals, and I will be eternally disappointed in D. Wade and Spoelstra for screwing up and not helping him properly.

    Wade for not having his star’s back as LeBron did for him in the run to the Finals (by this I mean Wade gave in to his insecurity, jumping at the chance to proclaim it his team and get in LeBron’s face when he was first struggling – the opposite of how Wade was treated when struggled against Boston & Chicago).
    Spoelstra for just continuing to let him struggle rather than make some damn plays for him and not letting him rest. The guy was double triple teamed all the time, played the most and had to make his own plays ALL THE TIME (well until Game 5, but it was too late Eric!)

    I am not even an amateur player let alone as knowledgeable as some of you other fans are, but I have been watching NBA for years, and I had no allegiance to LeBron. After watching him a lot this year I’m 100% convinced he’s the greatest current player and he’s a joy to watch play. He accomplished sooo much despite Wade’s propensity to play selfish rather than giving up the ball.

    Tom H. and Brian W. and all those other writers are not true analysts, as evidenced by their attempts to psychoanalyze LeBron and speculate about what every little word he says means instead of writing about his play or the game. I mean, come on. Give it a break.

    Leave him be and just enjoy…

    Posted by B girl | July 17, 2011, 6:02 pm
    • It seems that people forget that when they bring up the exulted Kobe as a comp for LeBron that, with the exception of free throw shooting and POSSIBLY defense, Jame sis better at EVERYTHING ELSE than Kobe.

      In fact Wade is a very similar comp to Kobe with the exception of FT% and 3 pt%.

      James presence clearly allowed Wade to shoot a career best FG% and James himself set a career high in FG% while still keeping his 7.0 rpg and 7.0 apg.

      James is better than Kobe ever was and will only get better.

      Posted by Paulie Walnuts | July 17, 2011, 8:42 pm
    • jeeez, sorry for the typos!

      Posted by B GIRL | July 18, 2011, 4:51 pm
  13. Lebron James is the best complete player in the NBA. My thoughts on Lebron come down to two ideological differences. One side is frustrated with Lebron because he has failed to live up to what their expectation of him is/was. The other side see’s Lebron as what he is, perhaps not the Greatest of All Time, but most definitely the most exciting, talented, relevant player on the court at any given moment.

    Posted by Vincent | July 21, 2011, 9:56 am

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