LeBron James, the media darling, is in many ways getting what he wanted. What he didn’t seem ready for was the immense pressure and accusations that come from playing at a sub-standard level. Of course he wanted ALL of this attention. The easy part is getting the media to notice you, the hard part is fulfilling whatever the media believes you are capable of, and in the post-Jordan era the bar is set extremely high.
Throughout LeBron’s career he has put up tremendous numbers and during this postseason he has carried the Heat past the Sixers, Celtics, and Bulls. During the Finals though when “greatness” is measured James has faded away from the spotlight deferring to teammates. There is nothing wrong with trusting in your teammates, but there is a big difference in being a facilitator and vanishing completely.
After a Game 3 win on Sunday night he was asked about shrinking in that fourth quarter, and he was defensive and pointed in his response: I do more to help my team than just score. There is nothing wrong bing the second-fiddle to Dwyane Wade, but on Tuesday night Wade needed help and LeBron, guarded by the likes of Jason Terry, and Jason Kidd vanished offensively.
Jason Kidd, and Jason Terry were not the guys any of us expected to contain LeBron. Of course Dallas’ zone, and constant double teams are proving difficult for James. He has also played at least 45 minutes of each game, but fautige for a 26 year-old is a tough excuse.
James spoke to reporters after the game about his play “[I've] got to do a better job of being more assertive offensively, not staying out of rhythm offensively the whole game,” said James. “But I think one thing I try to concentrate is, if I get two guys on me, try to make my teammates better, hit those guys for open looks. They made some great looks, but at the same time I have to keep myself in rhythm while I’m doing that as well.”
With the series going to a best of 3, James will have an opportunity to quiet the critics, not only by playing at his normal level of greatness, but also winning that coveted first championship. It’s all up to James.
The incredible tarp of greatness that Michael Jordan has covered the NBA with over the last three decades has become nearly impossible for many players to remove. Kobe Bryant has managed to carve out his own legacy, while still falling one ring short of MJ(so far). Last week, Scottie Pippen drank two many rum and cokes proclaiming LeBron was better then Jordan from his estimation. Ironically, LeBron could, and should be more like Pippen, if the Heat are going to win the series.