LeBron James recognizes pressure. In game one of the 2011 NBA Finals, James played with the focus, emotion and desperation of a man whose livelihood depended on defeating the Dallas Mavericks.
Of course, this is the NBA Finals, and every player on the court strives to play at a higher level. But James’ case is different. If the Heat loses the NBA Finals, James will face more than disappointment. He will be ridiculed, laughed at and mocked by sports writers. Hateful fans will be ecstatic that his experiment of teaming up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh didn’t work. Those who were upset at James for “The Decision” will spend the entire summer finding pleasure in his pain.
Although Dirk Nowitzki of the Mavs is 32 and could have trouble returning to the NBA Finals, he won’t face as much criticism if his team doesn’t win. In fact, Nowitzki will likely be given sympathy for being a consistent NBA All-Teamer who has yet to capture a title.
James, on the other hand, won’t be given the same treatment if he doesn’t walk away as a champion this season. James scored 24 points and was the most energized player on the court in game one. He dribbled through the Mavs defense, dunked the ball with fury, executed tremendous passes and played defense better than any player in game one. He played like a man who doesn’t want to face the disastrous consequence of losing. –amir shaw