LeBron James vs. Dan Gilbert: What actually happened to the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals?
First off, welcome to week six of The Bleacher Retort—the only cartoon published every Friday on the Swagger section of the Bleacher Report site.
Please bookmark or otherwise follow, as these will be getting progressively more risqué. (Unless my editor reads this, in which case, they will not.)
This week’s entry deals with what exactly happened to the Heat in the Finals. The cartoon suggests sabotage—which if you watched seemed like a distinct possibility—and I’d like to suggest something else…
I think Gregg Doyel turned the series. The last explicable game LeBron James had was game three. He was deferential, sure (and I was unimpressed in watching him be so), but LeBron James is the type of player who can be dominant and deferential at the same time. Starting in game four, however, whether through confusion or defiance, LeBron began to lose his flow. He lost himself on the floor, and then the Heat just lost him completely.
And it became a story between each game from that point on.
So…in honor of Greg Doyel…I’d like to present the top six questions I would’ve asked LeBron James post-game six of the NBA Finals:
- LeBron, when you tweeted “The Greater Man upstairs know” when you’re going to win a championship, were you implying that God asked you to throw this series?
- LeBron, do you think a title now validates the career of DeShawn Stevenson?
- LeBron, did you ask Bosh for advice on attacking the Maverick defense?
- LeBron, on a scale of 1-10, how much does your elbow hurt?
- LeBron, under what circumstances would you allow Adrian Wojnarowski to perform your eulogy?
- LeBron, what’s the date of next season’s pep rally?
I guess this makes me a hater, though I hope, not entirely.
I don’t think these moments are too big for LeBron—there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary—but I do think he has the capacity to get inside his own head, to think too much, and to be too proud to admit that it’s the case.
To a Cavs fan, this is both wonderful and somehow still disappointing.
LeBron James has (had?) the capacity—physically—to be the best player any of us has ever seen. That he landed in Cleveland initially was a boon, and that he’s in Miami now is a noob (the opposite of “boon”). But my disappointment extends beyond the fact that he left. I’m disappointed that he’s seemed to lose that belief in his capacity for greatness. And I’m disappointed that he’s become progressively more arrogant in what seems to me an attempt to cover it up.
I didn’t know LeBron James when he entered the league, and I don’t know him now. But this LeBron James seems to me to be more cynical, of both the world and his abilities.
He’ll add a post game (he’s still only 26), and he’ll win a title (the Thunder are the only true up and coming team in the league), but he will never be what he could’ve.
We’ll never see him as a guy who maximized his opportunities.
- Rollin—for outstanding work in article editing.
- Nico Colaleo—for outstanding work in cartoon coloring.
- Center for American Athletic Progress.
Okay, just in case you’re interested…here are my Cavs thoughts in a length PS:
On the other side of the fence, it’s time for LeBron’s nemesis to turn the other cheek.
Though I am grateful for his passion, and think he’s potentially a better owner than Mark Cuban (the guy will spend whatever it takes to build a winner in Cleveland), this offseason marks a dangerous time for the Cavs. They’ll have opportunities to improve the team, but they need to be selective. Hitting the first and fourth picks would be the obvious place to start, but it is also important that they not improve too quickly—or really, irresponsibly.
I’ve worried since day one that this statement: "I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER 'KING' WINS ONE" might get us in a weensy bit of trouble. And not because of inaccuracy. Because of what it might force us to do.
The Cavs are sitting on a $14.5 million trade exception that will expire about one week after the draft. It’s essentially the only thing of value they got for trading LeBron, and now they risk losing it for nothing. They could use it as part of a deal to haul in an Iguodala-type, or at best, Rudy Gay.
And personally, I think they can afford to do neither. Should they not be able to swing it for a draft pick (or for a player and a draft pick), than they should eat it. As uncomfortable as that may be to do.
The worst thing the Cavs can do is attempt to live up to that Gilbert promise. At least proactively. If LeBron fails, it will be on his own merits (or lack thereof), if we succeed, it will be through the draft, and through the second stud we add in 2012. I can see no way around that. Kyrie Irving is a great pickup, and Kanter, Valanciunas, or (maybe?) Derrick Williams will hopefully be another. But the lead guy is not there. If I’m using the Thunder analogy, we’d be without the Durant.
And as much as I like Cleveland, the only way we’re getting that guy is through the draft—the 2012 one being particularly strong.