It’s been a while since I wrote about LeBron. About time to get back to some hoopserving about him.
If you’ve read my other postings about LeBron (and, if you haven’t, I encourage you to click the LeBron James tag and read them), you’ve seen me write that I don’t hate LeBron. Rather, I have problems with the way he is judged, basically all tracing from the fact that I have felt, for a while, that his hype was always a few steps ahead of his accomplishments.
Slight addendum to that feeling: I hate him now. Not “hate” the way that I hate criminals or dictators, but “hate” in the way that sports fans hate certain athletes. In that context, this is the purest, most intense hatred I’ve ever felt.
I’m not sure exactly when or why the hatred became so pure and so intense, but it was undeniable this morning. I was driving in my car, listening to Mike and Mike on the radio, as they debated whether it would “mean more to” Dirk or LeBron to win a championship this year. Mike Greenberg was arguing that it would mean more to LeBron, because, while it would be a great accomplishment for Dirk, it would “validate” LeBron’s decision to go to Miami, and bolster his legacy enough that he could start making a case for being one of the top 10, or even top 5, players ever. Some guest on the show was agreeing with him.
My head almost exploded.
I had to pull the car over, and roll down the window. The game I love has been hijacked by this putz, and these knuckleheads who analyze it are buying the snake oil he’s selling.
Lost upon them, apparently, is the fact that LeBron hasn’t been all that great in the playoffs this year. It’s like they entirely overlook the main criticism about LeBron’s move to Miami; HE TOOK THE EASY WAY OUT, surrounding himself with teammates who are perfectly capable of winning without him. The very essence of the problem with what LeBron did is that he’s now in a position to win without being great, yet these “experts” were saying that a Miami win would validate his greatness.
This got me angry. Furious, almost. Like any testosterone-driven, red-meat-eating manly man, when I get angry, I… get on the internet to look at basketball statistics. (What, that’s not what testosterone-driven men do?) The stats got me even angrier.
There’s a rant developing deep in my soul, but, at the moment, it hasn’t yet developed into words. For now, it’s just a bunch of numbers.
Let’s look at some of those numbers. The Miami Heat have played, as I type this, 13 games in this year’s playoffs. Let’s look at 3 categories: points, rebounds, and assists, and see how much leadership LeBron is providing this team…
Game 1 (vs Philly): He led them in rebounds, and tied for the lead in assists. By the way, the opening two lines of ESPN’s summary, which is entitled “Dwyane Wade’s late heroics help Heat open playoffs with tight win” say “Chris Bosh and LeBron James watched from afar when Dwyane Wade controlled the final portions of games during the Miami Heat’s championship run in 2006. They got a closer look Saturday, when Wade helped save Miami from a Game 1 collapse.”
Game 2 (vs Philly): He led them in points and assists.
Game 3 (vs Philly): He led them in rebounds.
Game 4 (vs Philly): He led them in points and assists
Game 5 (vs Philly): The ESPN summary of the game says “Dwyane Wade leads Heat into Eastern Conference semifinals.” LeBron was third – yes, third – on the team in points and rebounds, and led them in assists.
Game 6 (vs Boston): The ESPN summary of the game says “Dwyane Wade, James Jones help Heat stifle Celts, take Game 1.” LeBron was third – yes, third – on the team in scoring, and tied for the lead in assists.
Game 7 (vs Boston): He led the team in points.
Game 8 (vs Boston): He led the team in none of the three categories. None. As in, not a single one. (A/K/A zero. Zilch. Nada.)
Game 9 (vs Boston): He led the team in points and rebounds.
Game 10 (vs Boston): He led the team in none of the three categories. None. Again.
Game 11 (vs Chicago): He led the team in assists. He was the third highest scorer. Yes, the third. Again.
Game 12 (vs Chicago): He led the team in points, rebounds, and assists.
Game 13 (vs Chicago): The ESPN summary of the game says “Chris Bosh powers Heat to 2-1 series lead over Bulls.” LeBron led the team in assists.
Let’s tally up those numbers. In 13 games so far, LeBron has led the Heat in scoring 5 times. He led the team in rebounding 4 times. He led the team in assists (including two instances of being tied for the lead) 8 times.
Many, many, many more numbers to come over the next few days. Hatred this pure and this intense is backed up by plenty of numbers.
I think your hatred for Lebron – deserving as it may be for shorting his legacy – is clouding your judgment about his on court accomplishments this playoffs. Lebron was a notorious late game choke artist with Cleveland yet somehow, he has managed to become THE guy late in the game for Miami. That matters more than numbers (which btw have been impressive factoring in typical reg season >> postseason stat declines) in the playoffs.
A good point, Lusch. It will be addressed in one of the upcoming parts of my rant. (Which is shaping up to be a 3 or 4 part series, and will be developed over the next few days.)