LeBron James: “I’ve Got Dirk”

By: 06.13.11  •  57 Comments
LeBron James

LeBron James (photo. David Alvarez)

LeBron is the best player in the world. And LeBron is a killer. That’s why something isn’t adding up.

I love the little details of the game of basketball. Things like the fact that in the NBA the home team’s captain or best shooter picks the game ball before introductions. Last night, in the final moments of the Mavs’ clinching game, something happened that wasn’t discussed on the TV broadcast but I found really strange:

With about 90 seconds left in Game 6, the Heat trailing the Mavs by 10, and the series basically over, you could read LeBron’s lips seemingly yelling “I’ve got Dirk!” to his teammates. LeBron then guarded Dirk for the next two meaningless possessions.

Why then? Why did LeBron take it upon himself to check Dirk when the series was already over? Isn’t that something he should have done four games earlier?

In every single high school, pick-up run or rec league game I’ve ever played in – when someone on the opposing team is killing, someone (usually the best player) will step up and emphatically say “Let’s switch” or “I’ve got him.” It’s a matter of pride and being a competitor. And no, I don’t care if Erik Spoelstra signed off on it. It doesn’t matter.

Back in a February game, Rajon Rondo decided to guard LeBron – without discussing it with Doc Rivers first. Rondo pestered the hell out of LeBron and caused real problems for him.

Again, I’ll say I believe LeBron is the best player in the world. And we’ve seen that he can enter beast mode, strap on the backpack and become a killer. But where was that in this series? We all saw it. He had moments – several of them – where we expected him to get angry, get that look in his eyes, go bananas and take over. But it didn’t happen. As a lover of the game, I wanted it to happen. LeBron is capable of doing things no one else can, and when he goes into beast mode it’s a beautiful thing.

I found his post-game comments equally curious:

“At the end of the day, all the people that was rooting on me to fail – at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today … They have the same personal problems they had today … They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal, but they have to get back to the real world at some point.”

Huh? That’s what’s on his mind right now? LeBron’s postgame comments should have focused on three messages, period:

1. We lost to a great team.
2. I should have done more.
3. I’m going to remember this feeling and use it as motivation.

That’s what superstars are supposed to say and do.

I woke up to texts from friends and colleagues saying LeBron looked scared and nervous in the series against the Mavs. I’m not buying it. I don’t think LeBron gets scared or nervous. Not even close. But I will say something didn’t look right this series. He’s got WAY more fight in him than he showed.

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