Give the devil his due

Ok, maybe calling Lebron the DEVIL is a little too harsh.  But let’s face it, we all hate him.  We all hate him, most of us hate the Heat, and there for most of us care more about them losing then any team they’re playing getting the win.  But to quote none of my former girlfriends…last night was something special.

Magic playing center for Kareem, Isiah on one ankle, Reggie at MSG, Jordan with the flu, Tyson Lowrie overcoming lack of talent, this is right there with all of them.  Now I won’t rank them, but its right there.  This team was under as much pressure as any I have ever seen in my 20 years of watching the NBA, and this player was under even more pressure.  And he didn’t just deliver, he put up an all timer.

People will forget (although it will get mentioned today) he had a performance close to this to lead the Cavs to the 07 finals.  Game 5 vs a pretty great Detroit team, especially great defensively.  He scored 25 of the final 28 points for the Cavs in the 4th quarter and overtime to upset the Pistons and give the Cavs a 3-2 lead heading home for game 6 which they eventually won.  But since then, outside of a miracle 3 vs Orlando in 09 Lebron has underwhelmed everyone in the sporting world.

It has been as if he is timid to take the team over from Dwayne Wade.  It is Wade’s town, of course he led the Heat to the 06 title and he is not only a great player but a great leader.  But Lebron is the best basketball talent on the planet.  He had to learn that if he takes over, any player will follow his lead.  Perhaps he has finally figured that out.

Now, all this won’t mean much if they don’t win game 7.  The Celtics won’t die easy.  It’s a cliché but the Celtics really do have the heart of a champion.  And it was very likely better for Boston to get blown out rather than lose a heartbreaker.  Now they go back to Miami with that enormous chip on their shoulders.  It will be a great game.

Also, at the end of the day the Heat won the way they usually do.  They blew the opponent out.  Had they won a tight game and Lebron been clutch down the stretch of that game, perhaps hit a game winning shot, the questions might be fading.  But that’s not how it all went down.  They still face “can the Heat win a big game?  Can they win a tight game?  Can Lebron show up in the 4th?” 

All that has yet to be answered despite what went on last night.  It could be the start of the Heat turning into a champion, or it could be yet another disastrous loss for the team and more specifically the player who said “not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5, not 6, not 7…”  Not 1 either hey “King”?  But he could get a step closer Saturday night.

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