“People are writing Miami off, but if they come back and win then win a championship, this will be the game that defines their post-season (and dynasty?) run. These are the games that make heroes, kids.”
These words were said before Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Miami was down 3-2, coming off a Game 5 loss where Paul Pierce buried a three in LeBron James’ eye that had every bit of “dagger shot” written over it. I didn’t say this though. David D. did. If you chose not to read the rest of this, I understand. Really, I do. So stop reading now. Just don’t say I never gave you the opportunity to abandon ship when there was still a chance. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
(looks up Juwan Howard’s “We goin’ to the chip!” YouTube clip from his Fab Five days)
Still here? Just don’t say I never attempted to warn you. LeBron James has a ring folks. And messed around and got a triple double in the deciding game, too. While I don’t know every fan of the dude, I’m pretty sure there aren’t 10 more people who aren’t apart of his family or directly employed by the Miami Heat more excited than I am. I didn’t tweet the entire game. Not even when Miami was up 25 in the fourth. Maybe it was a sign of maturity. Maybe it was paranoia. On second thought, it was paranoia. As a James fan, his entire career has been a real life Charlie Brown cartoon. The face of his brand has become – like his game – a nonstop locomotive, but also a running joke. His killer instinct wasn’t reminiscent of Kobe Bryant’s and damn sure not Michael Jordan’s. He was afraid of the moment. He was everything his enablers said he wasn’t.
And I’ll be honest, throughout the years, all the criticisms became stressful. It was only so much longer quoting stat lines would hold weight. It’s the reason the 2012 NBA playoffs meant as much as they did. Last year, when the Mavericks earned their title, I was sick. Sick to my stomach. So sick, even, I refuse to watch any footage from that series to this day. There wasn’t anything I could do but hope. Hope somehow Bron could get back to the Finals and redeem what was the most embarrassing moment of my sports fan life. Hope somehow he would develop a back to the basket game. Hope somehow the outcome would be different.
Then, Carmelo and New York got the boot. Danny Granger acted like a tough guy, but forgot how to score and the Pacers were gone. I didn’t know it then, but LeBron’s Game 4 jackhammer would ignite a run for the ages seeing him average 30-10-5 for the entire postseason. It was almost like LeBron realized how unstoppable he actually could be. Then, the Celtics – the same Celtics everyone counted out before the All Star break – pushed LBJ and the Heat to brink of elimination. And finally, the delayed sweep of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder happened.
So you’re damn right I’m on Cloud 9 right now. Being on the wrong side of destiny on repeated occasions can produce such a feeling. Now there’s stats supporting one of the greatest playoff runs in history – the first player ever to amass 650+ points, 200+ rebounds and 100+ assists in a single postseason – to go along with the one stat (a ring) that means a damn in so many eyes. Having said that, there are still doubts tossed my direction, which I expected.