I’ll begin with the obvious: LeBron is great at what he does. But I’ll also be quite frank in saying that LeBron’s game is as impressive to me as Shaq’s game was during his prime, which is fine to watch and great for the Miami Heat, but it’s not really admirable enough to justify an entire fan base of followers switching allegiances from one team to another, and quite possibly to ANOTHER sometime in the next few years. Furthermore, it’s certainly not Kobe or MJ-admirable either (sadly this comparison must be addressed when talking to most LBJ fans).
Besides his dominant presence in the low post, which normally allows him to tank his defenders into the baseline cameramen, LeBron’s offensive prowess isn’t defined by much of an actual skill set, but more so by of his uncontainable strength and dominance in the lane and at the rim, combined with the convenience of sharp perimeter shooters whom he can easily dish the ball to once defenses close in on him. This certainly makes him a helluva task for defensive game-planning, considering defenders never know when to double him or when to stick with their man spotted at the 3-point line. He’s also a helluva task for offensive game-planning. Just ask Erik Spoelstra after last night when he cringingly subbed out his sharp shooter Mike Miller for the second best player on his roster, Dwyane Wade. Spo knew Miller’s value on the perimeter was important once LeBron went ape shit without a headband, but he also knew he couldn’t leave a player of Wade’s caliber sitting on the bench, especially with the end of regulation nearing. This proves that while James is great at what he does, the system he’s placed in is just as important.
There’s also that awkward moment when the guy defending the “greatest basketball player on the planet” feels comfortable enough to guard him up to five feet off the ball, daring him to shoot from anywhere beyond 17 feet from the rim. It’s obvious the defender is guarding LeBron from mercilessly crashing the lane but let’s face it, a lot of that strategy has to do with the fact that “the greatest basketball player on the planet” is a subpar ball-handler and has minimal value as a jump shooter. Without the use of force and/or his forearm, LeBron can easily be fazed out of an offense, especially when defensive adjustments are made to exploit those weaknesses, something Pop has accomplished all throughout this series.
So the fact that LeBron’s greatness is defined by these lesser appealing traits, and the fact that he’s a flopper, whiner, and habitual pusher-offer with an off-putting personality in the media, along with the most annoying fan base ever known to sports, I will continue to remain that “hater” Heat/LBJ fans loathe, and that’s mostly because they’ll never find a way to construct a valid counter response to the truth, not opinion, I’m spewing.
In a series where the question of LeBron’s legacy has already began to dominate conversations about this year’s Finals before it’s even over, LeBron needed to rise to the occasion well before the infamous headband was ripped from his head and became a Twitter headline. He needed to assert his domination before he started 3-for-12 from the floor, before he missed layups and before he sat on his ass barking at the ref about a no-call while the rest of his team was trotting back in transition. In the meanwhile, LeBron fans, you can thank whatever deity it is you worship for Ray Allen and Chris Bosh bailing your favorite player’s team out of four turnovers and a triplet of missed 3’s in the final three minutes of regulation.
But alas, my commentary will remain overshadowed by ESPN’s glorification of LeBron’s bare forehead (which for the record, should never be bared again), along with a fan base suffering from 5th degree delusion, who will counter my rant with stats and numbers and accusations of being a “hater.” Just remember, the legacy of a player is defined very strongly and carefully by those who watch and observe the game and not just by glancing at populated stat sheets.
I leave you with these simple questions: has LeBron’s performance in these Finals in any way been legendary? Has his performance justified his fan base’s claim of infallibility? Has it drawn him closer to the topic of greatest ever?
Far from it and if you ask me, he’s certainly not great enough for his fans to trust he’ll bring their team back from a 5-point deficit with 30 seconds left (via Bomani Jones Instagram). Instead, he left them drunk and pleading with the arena guards to let them back in to the stadium after they realized the game was going into overtime. Now THAT’S legendary.