LeBron James’ Dominance Only Raises The Stakes
This is not an earth shattering concept. The best players, the all-time greats, carry their respective teams in the most important games. All the hate, all the criticism and all the backlash takes a back seat to heaping helpings of awe, praise and gospel.
With the Celtics just 48 minutes from a trip to the NBA Finals and the home crowd on their side, LeBron James made sure that his season would go on and that he would add yet another banner performance to his legacy. He didn’t stop tormenting the Boston defense until he had 45 points, 15 rebounds and five assists in a convincing Miami win; a win that would have to make the Heat the favorites going into a decisive game seven.
Is it really possible to stop someone who shoots 19-26 in a professional basketball game? Likely not. The praise and the gospel cannot be denied after a performance like that, even if it comes with reluctance from media and fans. Most people do not like LeBron James, but unquestionably have to respect when he puts up an other-worldly performance like he did on Thursday evening.
“He was absolutely fearless tonight, and it was contagious,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “The way he approached the last 48 hours, and not only LeBron, but everybody else. Nobody likes getting dirt thrown on your face before you’re even dead. He showed great resolve.”
Spoelstra was facing rumors that he would be fired if his team left the TD Garden in defeat. James and his teammates faced a barrage of media skepticism and the four-letter network openly wondered whether a member of the James-Dwyane Wade-Chris Bosh troika would have to be traded in order to create more balance and cohesion. James’ performance ensured that the only words uttered would be positive ones.
“He played amazing. He was locked in from the beginning of the game like I’ve never seen him before,” Wade said. ”I hope now you guys can stop talking about LeBron and he doesn’t play in big games,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.
The problem is that there’s another big game on Saturday night that is exponentially bigger than Thursday night’s game. What James did will be lauded during the pregame show and make for some nice fodder for Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy to talk about in the first quarter. But another big game is another opportunity for praise, but also another opportunity for all that criticism to return again. Even louder than ever before.