Jobu gives credit where credit is due.
Before I start this post, let me assuage all the haters out there. I am not… I repeat… I am NOT jumping on the Lebron James bandwagon. He’s still a douche, he’s still absurd and I still want him to lose every time out. I’m just not as angry when he wins anymore, and it’s because of his performance in these playoffs.
Yes, he’s a crybaby flopper who gets more calls than anyone has ever deserved (I’m not even sure Jordan got this many calls against the Jazz). That being said, Lebron showed me something during these playoffs. His performances (a record fifteen straight playoff games with at least 25 points) and his cold blooded three-point shooting (in game four against the Thunder and game six against the Celtics) really carried the Heat to their championship.
No one, not even the biggest Lebron haters, ever doubted the man’s talent. Everyone has known how good he is since he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated in high school. What everyone doubted, and rightfully so, was his ability to show up during important games. He never got the Cavaliers to the promised land, and it was often his own fault, as he tended to fade when things mattered the most. Plain and simple, he didn’t have the heart (or a couple of lower body parts) to be the next Michael Jordan, as everyone thought he would be when he was a teenager.
I mean, that’s a lot of pressure to put on a teenager. Many criticized him for signing with the Heat because it showed that he was unwilling to be “The Man,” and would rather be just another great player on a team full of great players. His story, all along, has been that he wanted to win championships, and signing with the Heat, with Chris Bosh and Dwanye Wade, was the best way to do that. Maybe it was his way of telling everyone that only Lebron James is in control of Lebron James, and no one but Lebron James would decide Lebron James’ future (Lebron James!). I dunno what his motivation was, but it clearly doesn’t matter now that he’s a world champion.
I was pretty darn happy when the Heat lost to the Mavs last year. I think them winning last year would have felt cheap, like a purchased championship. It would have been an immediate payoff for their big free agency off-season (I will ignore that the Celtics won their title in the first year of “The Big Three”) Also, Lebron was coming off one of the biggest streaks of douchery anyone had ever put together (remember when he announced his decision, and when the Heat introduced their big three with that ridiculous press conference/party/fashion show?).
A year removed from that, and with his cold blooded, unselfish but clutch play in these playoffs, Lebron seems a lot less evil than he once did. This was especially true right before the celebrations after beating both the Celtics and the Thunder, when Lebron was seen embracing his opponents and telling them how much he respected them (that’s what he said to Doc Rivers anyway, so I assume he was doing that to the rest as well). I thought that was a classy move on his part, which is one of the few classy things I’ve ever seen Lebron do.
Sure, I still like making fun of his douchey clothes, the hairline that is receding at ludicrous speed and the accompanying never-ending headband (pretty sure he’s just going to start wearing knit caps on the court soon), but the look on his face when he finally got to hold the NBA championship trophy melted my hate a bit…
Just enough to say congratulations, and that I hope the Celtics (or Thunder) thump them in the playoffs next season.
Featured image courtesy of: Mike Ehrmann, Getty Images Sport