On Monday, CBS Sports columnist Gregg Doyel published “LeBron James: Story of an Incredibly Shrinking Superstar“. Doyel basically labeled James as a vanishing act in the moments that matter in these NBA Finals games that are quickly becoming primetime options for ESPN Classic. While other columnists still plant their lips square on the self-anointed King’s ass, Doyel called him out. Doyel even asked James about it after the Miami Heat won Game 3 and the guy that Scottie Pippen called the greatest player ever put the run-of-the-mill columnist in his place. Then Game 4 happened.
Dallas Mavericks 86, Miami Heat 83 (Series: 2-2)
I’ve followed Doyel with great fervor for quite some time because I get a kick out of his type and I know his ultimate MO. He’s a cartoon columnist, meaning that he writes to piss people off and get a reaction, and he’s great at it. In fact, he’s one of the best in the business when it comes to firing up the trolls because he knows the right buttons to push. If James scored 99 points in a game, Doyel would find a way to criticize him for not scoring 100, and he does it because it makes people angry and haters = page views. But even cartoon columnists can be right sometimes and last night was the best example of the sun shining on a dog’s ass, because for the first time since 2007, James was held to single digit scoring.
As the Mavs pulled off another huge but close win in what has become an incredible Finals series*, Dwyane Wade has me convinced that he could be the first player to ever win the Finals MVP even if his team loses. Granted, I’m not a fool and Dirk Nowitzki has the MVP trophy space on his mantle after last night’s fever of 102 performance, but Wade has been phenomenal. James, on the other hand, hasn’t even been a sidekick, save for a few great plays. Like a buddy of mine said, Wade has been Batman and Robin.
With a few seconds left in the game, Jason Terry hit two incredibly clutch free throws to give the Mavs a 3-point lead. I said that James would be the option for a 3-pointer to tie. Wade mishandled the inbound pass, so we will never know what could have happened, but I don’t think James was even the second option. The plan was all Wade. As I said last week, Wade is brilliant. But he’s also tied.
*The most incredible aspect of this series may be how much fans of both teams are destroying the officiating. It’s been horrendous. James’ flop last night was so obvious. Painfully obvious. And yet David Stern sits there and takes grapes from his servants as his minstrels provide him with joy. Stern says that everything is going great with the NBA, and there might not even be a lockout now, as the owners and union officials have been having long, serious meetings. But a blind man could see that the NBA needs a massive overhaul of officiating. If not for the integrity of the league, at least humor us with a smoke and mirrors act to make us think that change is coming. Because right now Tim Donaghy seems rational and logical, and that is a terrifying threat to the NBA.