Great NBA players come alive when it matters the most. Wilt, Bill, Kareem, Michael, Magic and Kobe. When the NBA Finals were on the line, those players recognized the moment and took advantage of the opportunity to be champions.
LeBron James wants to be in that class and could be in the near future. But in the 2011 NBA Finals, James disappeared when his team needed him the most.
His play in the fourth quarter of each game was so atrocious that it often seemed as if he had forgotten how to play the game of basketball. He made rookie mistakes and was passive when he needed to be aggressive.
Although the entire Miami Heat team should take blame for missing 13 free throws in game six, a 105-95 loss to the Mavs, James will be most criticized. He had an efficient game on paper by scoring 21 points on 15 shot attempts. But the Heat needed him to be as good as Wilt, Bill, Kareem, Michael, Magic, Kobe or even LeBron, circa 2007. There was a time when he could carry his team on his back with ease.
During a playoff game against the Detroit Pistons in 2007, he scored 29 of the Cleveland Cavs’ last 30 points. It was one of the most amazing scoring performances in NBA history.
But in this year’s finals, James failed to score more than 21 points. James’ teammate, Dwyane Wade, had two MVP-like performances in the finals by scoring 36 and 32 points.
Uber-King James was nowhere to be found in this series, and his detractors will remind him of his subpar play during the entire summer. –amir shaw
A.R. Shaw is the sports and music director for rolling out magazine. He is also the author of the young adult novel, 23.