NBA Finals: Let the LeBron, Heat haters be silenced
It pains me as much as the next person to say this, but LeBron James has stuck it to his haters. The guy that goes by King James now has his ring and he did it in style, completely dismantling all opponents that stood in his way as if he was on a mission to prove the doubters the wrong.
For all the evil that the Miami Heat represents, they are now the NBA Champions and none other than LeBron James was at the forefront. Sure there was Mario Chalmers‘ 25 point performance in Game 4 of the Finals and Mike Miller’s insane three-point barrage en route to 23 points in Game 5, but LeBron was so dominant that it made people oblivious to Dwyane Wade’s struggles for most of the postseason. Where was the hate on D-Wade?
Count me as one of the seemingly millions of people that despised LeBron for the way he left his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers through The Decision. He went from one of the most beloved players to the most over scrutinized and polarizing athlete this side of Tim Tebow. Even I thought LeBron was under the microscope way too much.
Through all of my hate though, there was no lost respect for the player on the court. No, even as a Chicago Bulls fan, I was not blind to the truth that there is no more dominant player in the game than LeBron James (my apologies to Derrick Rose). He may never be MJ, but has the game ever seen anyone that possessed a more dominant package of power and strength yet played the game with more speed and grace than one would expect from a 250-pound freak of nature? Combine that with an incredibly high basketball IQ and you’ve got a three-time MVP with many more to come. The only thing that was missing was the bling on his ring finger and supposedly the “clutch gene.”
And with one swift run through the 2012 playoffs, LeBron vanquished all of those questions. Even the biggest LeBron haters can’t deny the facts. With his team down 2-1 against the Pacers in the Eastern Conference semifinals and everyone saying the Heat were down for the count, all James did was put up 40 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists in evening up the series. The next game, he dropped a 30-10-8 line as Miami seized the lead and won the series in 6.
Fast-forward to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals at the Garden against his nemesis, the Boston Celtics. Facing an elimination game, James sent the series back to Miami with 45 points, 15 rebounds and five assists and followed that up with 31 points and 12 rebounds in the clinching Game 7 to book his second straight trip to the finals.
Even that wasn’t enough to silence the critics, who said he needed to do it in the Finals. Fair enough given his career average of 19.5 points per game in 10 career NBA Finals games, his lowest average of any postseason round. Well long story short, all he did was average 28.6 points, 10.2 rebounds and 7.4 assists in the Heat’s five-game beat down of the Oklahoma City Thunder. He bested his previous single-game Finals career-high of 25 points in each of the five games. Oh yeah and he topped it off with a triple-double of 26 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds to capture his most-coveted first championship ring.
All in all, postseason averages of 30.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 5.6 assists to go along with 10 double-doubles and that one triple-double in 23 games. From LeBron to the haters, “TAKE THAT.”
This was a different LeBron James. This was an immensely more mature player on the court and a guy that was much more comfortable in the “villain” role off the court. This was his time and he wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass him. What’s left is the newest NBA Finals MVP.
James and his Heatles may never reach “Not five, not six, not seven” status, but they’ve got one and for LeBron, it’s the one that’s eluded him his entire career. In the process, he took over ownership of the Miami Heat from D-Wade. This is his team now.
The guy has his ring and is as unselfish as they come. It’s time for LeBron to rightfully take his place among the game’s all-time greats now and even more importantly time for critics like myself to shut up.
If anyone still has any criticism of the guy that took his talents to South Beach, well there’s only one word to describe them: naïve.